Thursday, March 14, 2013

Statement A Good Day for Mam Sonando; A Bad Day for Rule of Law in Cambodia

A Good Day for Mam Sonando; A Bad Day for Rule of Law in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, 14 March 2013 – Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 21 NGOs members, is pleased that the Court of Appeal today ruled to release Mam Sonando, KanSovann and Touch Ream; however, CHRAC cannot welcome this decision as they remain convicted on a number of spurious charges, which should have been dropped altogether.

Mam Sonando– the owner of independent Beehive Radio station and President of the Association of Democrats – was sentenced to 20 years in prison in on 01 October 2012, in relation to a so-called secessionist movement in Broma village, Kratie province. No credible evidence was ever produced to support the politically motivated charges against him. Mam Sonando should have been acquitted at the Appeal Court today; instead it upheld three of the original charges – articles 28, 504 and 609 of the Penal Code – and added another qualification – article 97(6) of the Forestry Law – in a move that raises serious concerns with regard to rule of law and rights of the defense.

CHRAC strongly supports Mam Sonando’s commitment to democracy and human rights. His decision to confront the charges against him demonstrated the failings of the Cambodian judicial system as it became evident they were baseless. A full investigation should be launched into his arrest, investigation and detention so lessons can be learned and the judiciary strengthened.

The ruling of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to sentence Mam Sonando to 20 years in prison in October 2012 raises serious questions into the competence and independence of those judicial authorities which erroneously convicted him of crimes it is clear he did not commit. Mam Sonando was arrested shortly after a speech was made by Prime Minister Hun Sen calling for his detention. The Cambodian courts have repeatedly shown themselves to be pliant to the will of the government, contrary to the separation of powers enshrined under article 51 of the Cambodian constitution.

CHRAC again calls on the judicial authorities to launch an independent investigation into the events that took place in Kratie province last year, in particular the forced eviction of Broma village residents, land grabbing by the concessionaire company, Casotim, and the killing a 14 year old girl, Heng Chantha.
The case against Mam Sonando, Touch Ream and Kan Sovann was political theatre. All charges against them must be dropped since Cambodia is earnest in its commitment to the rule of law.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Sok Sam Oeun              Chairman of CHRAC and Executive Director of
Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP)                                             Tel: 012 901 199
Mr. Ny Chakriya                 Head of Monitoring section of ADHOC                                         Tel: 011 274 959
Mr. Mak Chamroeun         President of Khmer Youth Association (KYA)                              Tel: 097 444 5777
Mr. Run Saray                     Executive Director of Legal Aid of Cambodia (LAC)                  Tel: 012 838 341
Mr. Yong Kim Eng              President of People Center for Development and Peace (PDP)  Tel: 016 828 211
Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC)
Address: # 9E0, St. 330, Sangkat Boeung Keng Kong III,
Khan. Chamcar Morn, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Tel/Fax: (855) 23 218 759, Tel: (855) 23 301 415, 305 609
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