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Jailed journalist writes to UN envoy

Jailed journalist writes to UN envoy

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Journalist Ros Sokhet leaves Phnom Penh Municipal Court after a hearing in October.

Photo by: Pha Lina
UN human rights envoy Surya Subedi arrives in Phnom Penh last week for his third mission to Cambodia.

A JAILED journalist has written a letter asking the UN’s human rights envoy to intervene on his behalf and urge the Appeal Court to hear his case as soon as possible.

In November, Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced freelance journalist Ros Sokhet to two years in jail for sending a series of text messages to well-known commentator and news anchor Soy Sopheap.

In a five-page letter dated Tuesday, Ros Sokhet told Surya Subedi, the special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, that his appeal has yet to be heard in the seven months since his conviction was handed down.

“Now my case is stuck at the Appeal Court, where I have appealed since November 16 after I was quickly convicted,” he wrote in the letter.

He added that allegations that he had spread disinformation by sending disparaging text messages to Soy Sopheap were clearly “politically motivated”.

“In a democratic society I have the right and willingness to interview whoever I need to write a story about, and my interviews can be conducted through many means,” he said.

Subedi is currently on his third mission to Cambodia, which is focusing on the state of the judiciary. During his last mission, in January, Subedi went to visit Ros Sokhet at Prey Sar prison, an event the journalist described in the letter as being “very beneficial”.

Ros Sokhet’s sister, Ros Rada, said Wednesday that she delivered the letter from her brother’s cell at Prey Sar to the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday evening, where it was accepted by UN officials on Subedi’s behalf.

Ouk Savuth, general prosecutor at the Appeal Court, declined to comment on Ros Sokhet’s case on Wednesday, saying the scheduling of a hearing was “in the hand of the judges”.

Judge Chuon Sunleng, deputy director of the court, said he did not know which judge was working on the case, but emphasised that the court makes an effort to hear all cases as soon as possible.

Subedi’s current mission is set to wind up with a press conference today.

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