On 15 July 2012, Mam Sonando, a prominent Cambodian broadcaster, was arrested and charged with attempting to form a secession movement in the province of Kratie. The charges were wholly without merit, and the arrest was announced the day after Mr. Sonando appeared at the International Criminal Court for a presentation by the Khmer People Power Movement to the Office of the Prosecutor on alleged crimes against humanity by the Cambodian government. As a result of the timing of the arrest, the lack of evidence against Mr. Sonando, and the fact that Mr. Sonando had been arrested twice before on spurious charges after publicly criticising the Cambodian government, many in the international community believed that Mr. Sonando was arrested for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
At that time CLD, along with Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada and the International Federation of Journalists, wrote a letter to Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen protesting the arrest. On October 1, Mr. Sonando was convicted of the charges and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Cambodian authorities have still not presented any evidence justifying Mr. Sonando’s detention, nor have they given due consideration to his advanced age (he is 70 years old) or his ill health in their treatment of him.
CLD, along with the International Federation of Journalists, have now drafted another letter calling for Mr. Sonando’s immediate release, and calling on the Cambodian government to respects its international human rights obligations.