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CCHR outlines political context behind rights defender's arrest


(CCHR/IFEX) - August 2012 - The following briefing note by CCHR provides an overview of the case of Mam Sonando - the Director of independent Beehive Radio and President of the Democrat Association - who was arrested on 15 July 2012 at his home by a group of around 20 police, on accusations of leading a secessionist movement in Kratie province. He is currently being held without bail in Prey Sar Prison, Phnom Penh, despite willingly returning from abroad for questioning. This is not the first time Mam Sonando has been imprisoned on politically motivated charges: his willingness to criticize the Royal Government of Cambodia (the "RGC") and his vocal stance against forced evictions and land grabbing in Cambodia have seen him put behind bars on two previous occasions.

The arrest and detention of the prominent human rights defender came just one day after the close of the Association of South East Asian Nations ("ASEAN") Regional Forum in Phnom Penh, which was attended by United States ("US") Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, European Union High Commissioner of Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and representatives of ASEAN member countries, and is yet another setback for democracy in the Kingdom of Cambodia ("Cambodia").

Mam Sonando's arrest is believed to be connected with a report that was broadcast on Beehive Radio, discussing the communication brought to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (the "ICC") by the head of the Khmer People Power Movement (the "KPPM"), Suon Serey Rath, alleging the RGC's involvement in crimes against humanity. The arrest of Mam Sonando came one day after the broadcast and serves as another example of the RGC using a politically pliant judicial system to intimidate and silence opposition.

Download the briefing note:
Cambodia_CCHR_MamSonando.pdf (624 KB)

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