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article imageOp-Ed: Journalist's March 5 Court of Appeal case: an update

By Robert G Cope     Mar 1, 2013 in World
Phnom Penh - Cambodia's record on human rights and freedom of expression is being freshly displayed as on March 5 a court began hearing an appeal of a journalist's conviction for “instigating an insurrection” regarding a land conflict in a Cambodian village.
As the Cambodian Center for Human Rights reports: On 1 October 2012, in a lower court, 71-year-old journalist and human rights defender Mam Sonando was found guilty of instigating insurrection in Pro Ma village … the site of a land conflict and forced eviction.
Inhabitants of Prey Lang  demonstrating against the destruction of their forest.
Inhabitants of Prey Lang demonstrating against the destruction of their forest.
Rainforest Rescue
His radio station reported the event, thus, he “supported” those seeking to preserve their homes and the nearby forests against the interests of lumber and rubber companies.
Radio Australia is following the appeal. There is no word yet (March 6) on how long the court will consider new testimoney.
Already in October 2012, Radio Australia saw the Mam Sonando case as an attempt to silence critics and rights groups, alleging political motivation (he did criticize, Hun Sen, the Prime Minister), even behind-the-scenes pressure by lumber company interests are suspected.
Mam Sonando  71-yr-old Cambodian journalist  and radio commentator  convicted for 20 years for accus...
Mam Sonando, 71-yr-old Cambodian journalist, and radio commentator, convicted for 20 years for accusing the government of crimes against humanity when he supported villagers' protests against eviction.
IFEX
In February, and as recently as March 1, authorities have told residents, who support the jailed journalist that calendars displayed on their homes and in shop windows, showing his days in jail and the date of appeal, are breaking the law. They have been told to take the calendars down.
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights, whose motto is “No Risk. No Change,” notes: “ … in displaying this Calendar [two names are mentioned] were exercising their rights to freedom of expression, as protected under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia and under international covenants to which Cambodia is a party.”
In 2012, Journalists Without Borders, noted Cambodia was making progress, and was leading nations in South Eastern Asia, allowing greater free expression.
The international pressure is building so that the Court of Appeal – never faced with this type of case before – will do the right thing.
Journalists Without Borders compile an annual view of where free expression is fostered. Cambodia is...
Journalists Without Borders compile an annual view of where free expression is fostered. Cambodia is shown as leading in SEAsia.
Journalists Without Borders
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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