Cambodian radio journalist Mam Sonando in appeal gets slightly better deal

March 11, 2013

800 people gathered for a day and a half in front of the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal to support Mam Sonando.

(800 people gathered in front of the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal to support Mam Sonando (c) Clothilde Le Coz)

Arrested on July 15th 2012, Beehive Radio journalist and director, Mam Sonando, was sentenced in the first instance to twenty years in prison in October 2012. He was charged with instigating villagers and peasants to protest against lands expropriation, in Kratie province. He was convicted and sentenced for “aggravating circumstances rebellion, unlawful interference in the performance of public functions, insurrection, inciting people to take arms against the state authority”. After spending already eight months in prison, his appeal started on 5 March 2013.

After a two-day hearing, the prosecutor asked on 6 March 2013 the Phnom Penh Court of Appeals Court to drop the two main insurrection charges against Cambodian activist Mam Sonando. However, the judge added a new charge for “inciting the clearing of  forest land”.  Still, “this is a positive move” said Sa Sovan, one of Sonando’s lawyers. Mam Sonando’s wife also said she was hoping for the best and that the decision of the Prosecutor was positive and proves the Court was listening to the case. According to the prosecutor, he decriminalized the case because he was told to do so. Amnesty International has sent a trial observer.

The remaining charges are now: fomenting opposition to government officials (article 28 of the Penal Code), and opposition to legal authority (art 504 and 609). These two are not criminal charges but correctional ones, that could still condemn Sonando up to at least four years in jail. Moreover, before leaving the courtroom, the Judge added a charge of “inciting the clearing of forest land and claiming ownership”, which could equate to five to 10 years in jail according to the Foresty Law. Ou Virak, Director of the Cambodian Center for Human fears that this decision can lead to set him as an example for all land activists – such as MEA 2012 Laureate Luon Sovath – trying to defend their rights, especially now that the National Assembly elections are coming.

The accused asked  Avocats sans Frontières, France (translation: Lawyers without Borders France) to support his defence. The NGO agreed in view of the symbolic nature of this case and ASF France will give a technical and legal support to Mam Sonando’s Cambodians lawyers.

4 Responses to “Cambodian radio journalist Mam Sonando in appeal gets slightly better deal”

  1. Hello and thanks for referring to my article about it. Could you please put the copyright on the picture and also, I wanted to mention that Avocats sans frontieres and Lawyers Without Borders are two different organizations so please just tell everyone that it is a translation. Not the official name of the organization, or refer simply to ASF. Thanks and keep in touch ! Clothilde (

  2. […] Cambodian radio journalist Mam Sonando in appeal gets slightly better deal ( […]

  3. […] Cambodian radio journalist Mam Sonando in appeal gets slightly better deal ( […]

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