Attacks on Journalists

Flash News
Former RFA Journalists Charged With Espionage

November 18, 2017 Two former Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalists were charged at Phnom Penh Municipal Court this afternoon on suspicion of espionage and sent to pre-trial detention at Correctional Centre 1 (CC1). Yeang Sothearin and Uon Chhin have been detained by police since Tuesday night, accused of sending news reports to US-based media.

Both men worked for RFA until the media outlet shut its Phnom Penh Bureau on 12 September 2017, citing government repression and the forced closure of its FM radio broadcasts.

Yeang Sothearin and Uon Chhin were charged under Article 445 of the Criminal Code which covers providing information to foreign states or agents which can “undermine national defence”. The charge carries a prison sentence of between 7 and 15 years.

Statement CSOs call for an End to Impunity in Cambodia on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

November 2, 2015audio available

To mark the United Nations’ second International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, we, the undersigned civil society organizations (“CSOs”), call upon the Royal Government of Cambodia to bring an end to Cambodia’s rampant culture of impunity, and to ensure that the perpetrators of human rights violations are brought to justice.

Vigil to end impunity against journalists in Cambodia

November 21, 2013audio available

On November 23rd, 2013, the international community will mark the Third International Day to End Impunity. In Cambodia, impunity continues to be one of the greatest obstacles to strengthening the rule of law and allowing citizens of the country to receive Justice. We are inviting reporters, media workers and victims who have been denied justice as a result of impunity to express their solidarity by joining together where journalist Khim Sambo was killed in 2008 and call the government to provide Justice.

Briefing Reporters Killed in Cambodia since 1993

November 21, 2013

This briefing paper offers brief capsule on all of the reporters killed in Cambodia since 1993.

Cambodia’s Government and Donors Must Act Now to Prevent Escalation of Violence

September 25, 2013audio available

Gravely concerned at the Cambodian authorities’ repeated use of excessive force to prevent and suppress the people’s exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, the undersigned non-governmental organizations call on the Cambodian and foreign governments to take immediate action to prevent the human rights situation from deteriorating further.

Appeal Court Orders Release of Mam Sonando, Kan Sovann and Touch Ream

March 14, 2013audio available

We, the undersigned civil society groups, welcome the Court of Appeal’s long-overdue decision today to release independent radio station owner Mam Sonando and his two co-appellants, Touch Ream and Kan Sovann, but caution that a long road remains to rehabilitate Cambodia’s democracy ahead of National Assembly elections in July.

2012 in Review: Crackdown on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly

February 15, 2013audio available

The most shocking attack on freedom of expression in 2012 came in September, when muckraking journalist Hang Serei Oudom was murdered. His battered body, hacked at least six times with an axe, was found in the trunk of his car. Oudom’s work had focused on exposing illegal logging and forest crimes involving the local elite.

Meanwhile, as Cambodia’s ASEAN chairmanship unfolded and the 2012 commune election approached, the government demonstrated increased intolerance for peaceful assembly and expression.

Phnom Penh Court Sentences Independent Radio Station Owner to 20 Years

October 1, 2012audio available

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, condemn the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s shocking conviction of independent radio station owner Mam Sonando today, and the draconian 20-year sentence that he received. At age 70, Sonando is likely to die in prison if he serves his full term.

Sonando, the owner of Beehive radio, was arrested on July 12 on charges that he masterminded a so-called “secessionist movement” in Kratie. Several co-defendants were charged with organizing the movement on the ground. They were all convicted as well, though two of the previously identified “ringleaders” had their sentences suspended, echoing the Prime Minister’s public statement that those who confess would be spared punishment.

Briefing The Mam Sonando Case Explained

August 30, 2012

On July 15, 2012, independent Beehive Radio station owner and director Mam Sonando was arrested on suspicion of leading an "insurrectionary movement" in Kratie province. A trial is scheduled for Sept. 11. He faces up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted of all charges.

This paper is summarizes the case and concludes that the charges against Sonando are unjustified and an attempt to suppress free speech. In the continuing absence of credible evidence, Sonando should be released immediately, and the charges against him should be dropped unconditionally.

Release Mam Sonando, Owner of Cambodia's Oldest Independent Radio Station

July 16, 2012

The undersigned organizations are deeply disturbed by independent radio station director Mam Sonando's arrest on Sunday, July 15, 2012, and call for his immediate release. Mr. Sonando, who holds both Cambodian and French citizenship, is the owner of Beehive Radio, which is among the few independent radio stations in Cambodia. Sonando is also the founder and president of the Democrat Association.

Cambodian Villagers Sentenced to a Year in Prison in Long-Standing Land Dispute

November 27, 2009

On October 27, 2009, the Siem Reap provincial court convicted Chan Norn and Chang Savoeun of assault and robbery, sentencing the two men to one year imprisonment each and ordering each to pay compensation of 3,000,000 riel (USD$750) to complainants Chey Sovann and Em Sothea. The complaint had stemmed from a long-standing land dispute which turned ugly on March 22, 2009, when police opened fire on a group of protesting villagers, resulting in four villagers being shot. The court acquitted seven other villagers who were facing the same charges.

The trial of the nine villagers, which had been held a week earlier on October 20, 2009, was heavily guarded. Initially 20 military police had been guarding the court; however, after over 120 villagers and supporters came to observe the trial, reinforcements were called in. Shortly after the hearing began at 8am, approximately 150 military police armed with guns, shields and electric batons arrived and surrounded the court compound, ensuring that none of the supporters were able to enter the court and observe the hearing. As the supporters waited outside the court, compound police harassed several villagers, accusing them of forming a demonstration to disturb the hearing and continually demanded that they leave.

Cambodian Opposition-affiliated Journalist Jailed for Disinformation

July 9, 2009

On June 26, 2009, opposition-affiliated Khmer Machach Srok newspaper director Hang Chakra was convicted in absentia of disinformation, sentenced to one year in prison, and fined 9 million riel (USD $2,250). Hours later, Hang Chakra was arrested in Cambodia's Northeast Battambang province and taken to Prey Sar prison.

Statement 2009 LICADHO Report: Cambodia's Media Continues to be Attacked, Threatened and Censored

May 2, 2009

Cambodia's media is often described as one of the freest in the region, especially relative to the likes of Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos or China where the media is all but controlled by the government. But the reality is that Cambodia's media still exists in a repressive environment where the government controls the majority of the media. Those that it does not control, it is not afraid to attack, threaten or censor.

Restrictions on the Freedom of Expression in Cambodia's Media 2008

May 2, 2009

This briefing paper updates the LICADHO report published in May 2008, Reading Between the Lines: How Politics, Money & Fear Control Cambodia’s Media . It highlights the ongoing restrictions to Cambodia’s media, providing an updated listing of Cambodia’s news media covering newspapers, radio, television and internet sites, and also has a table highlighting reported attacks and threats made against the media during the period 1 January 2008 to 31 March 2009.

Statement Action Needed Over Persecuted Human Rights Defenders

September 25, 2008

LICADHO calls for Cambodian authorities to take concrete steps to redress he persecution of human rights defenders, including by bringing the killers of trade unionist Hy Vuthy to justice and ensuring that Khmer Kampuchea Krom activist monk Tim Sakhorn is able to return to Cambodia from Vietnam.

“Cambodia is a dangerous place for human rights defenders and this will not change until some real action is taken to prevent and punish attacks against them,” said LICADHO president Kek Galabru. “The authorities cannot continue to commit or ignore serious abuses against people who try to defend or promote human rights.”

A LICADHO briefing paper issued today, entitled Attacks and Threats Against Human Rights Defenders in Cambodia 2007, records more than 50 incidents of intimidation or violence against rights defenders last year. They include the February murder of Hy Vuthy and the arbitrary deportation of monk Tim Sakhorn to Vietnam in June.