Cambodian Broadcaster Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

Photo Credit: LICADHO

Update: Freedom House strongly condemns the Cambodian Court of Appeals’ decision to deny bail to independent radio station owner Mam Sonando while he awaits appeal. The 71-year-old radio station owner was convicted of sedition in October 2012 and sentenced to 20 years in prison, despite a clear lack of evidence. The charges against Sonando are unfounded and politically motivated, and stem from criticism of the Cambodian government that aired on his radio station in June 2012. Freedom House calls for his immediate release.

Freedom House condemns today’s decision by a Cambodian court to sentence human rights defender and independent radio station owner Mam Sonando to 20 years in prison on sedition charges and calls for his immediate release. The conviction of the 70-year-old radio station owner is a clear illustration of the Cambodian government’s determination to limit freedom of expression and silence its critics.

Sonando is the owner of Beehive Radio, one of only three independent radio stations in Cambodia, and the founder and president of the Democrat Association.

Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly called for Sonando’s arrest after on June 25, after he broadcast a presentation by the Khmer People Power Movement to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. The presentation accused the Cambodian government of human rights violations stemming from the forced evictions of landholders in the Kratie province and elsewhere. Sonando was arrested on July 15, barely 24 hours after foreign ministers and diplomats left Phnom Penh following the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit. Sonando was charged under Articles 28, 456, 457, 464, 504 and 609 of the Penal Code with ‘instigating insurrection’ at the Pro Ma Village in the Kratie province, and was convicted on all counts despite a clear lack of evidence.

Cambodia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2012 and Freedom of the Press 2012.

Learn More:

Freedom in the World 2012: Cambodia

Freedom of the Press 2011: Cambodia

Open Letter Calls on Donors to Address Increasing Human Rights Violations in Cambodia

Freedom House Calls for Release of Cambodian Broadcaster Arrested on Sedition Charges