Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cables reveal US positivity

Cables reveal US positivity

Cables reveal US positivity

Meas Nary in February last year. The court sentenced her to 20 years in prison – the maximum under human trafficking laws – for her role in detaining and abusing an 11-year-old girl.

DIPLOMATIC cables from the United States embassy in Phnom Penh released online yesterday by Wikileaks cast developments in two high-profile court cases last year in a positive light.

One cable, signed by Ambassador Carol Rodley and marked “unclassified/for official use only”, recounts in detail the conviction of three Cambodians for the trafficking and physical abuse of an 11-year-old girl, one of the Kingdom’s first human-trafficking prosecutions.

On February 19 last year, Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Chan Madina gave Meas Nary the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for purchasing the girl, forcing her to work as a domestic servant and beating her repeatedly.

Meas Nary’s husband, Va Savoeun, earned a 10-year sentence for failing to do anything about the abuse, and Thoeung Reth received a five-year term for selling the girl to the couple in 2008 for US$400.

The cable, sent on February 23, said the verdict “showcases the improving capacity of the court to evaluate the circumstances of a complex case and use the 2008 [Human Trafficking] Law to obtain significant punishment.”

It continued: “Moreover, the widespread publicity coupled with the sophisticated protection mechanisms employed in this case could serve equally as a deterrent to employers and as a training case for police and other interventionists”.

The International Labour Organisation said that the case was a “rare example of authorities rescuing a domestic servant from an abusive situation at the hands of an employer”, according to the cable.

Another cable, also signed by Rodley with the same classification, reported on the acquittal of Radio Free Asia reporter Sok Serey for disinformation charges in February last year.The complaint stemmed from a November 2008 radio report by Sok Serey about a dispute between Rim Math and about 200 members of his mosque in Takeo province.

The sentiment expressed in the cable echoed comments at the time by observers who hailed the acquittal - which noted that there was no “malicious intent” as required by the 1992 UNTAC penal code, the prevailing law at the time.

The cable was sent on the same day as the ruling, February 19, and said the outcome “would be a welcome sign of new-found sophistication by a provincial court”.

“Other courts usually do not evaluate whether malice was present in a particular incident when ruling on a case,” the cable said.

Nearly 800 documents from the US embassy in Phnom Penh are among more than 250,000 cables from US diplomatic sources around the world that Wikileaks claims are in its possession.


  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting