Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Press freedom group decries arrest warrant

Press freedom group decries arrest warrant

Press freedom group decries arrest warrant

Reporters without Borders is calling on the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to quash a seven-year sex-trafficking sentence handed down to French journalist Daniel Lainé late last month, and for Interpol to lift an international arrest warrant against him that is tied to the case.

In early 2012, according to a summary of the events provided by rights group Adhoc, Cambodia requested that Interpol issue a red alert – which essentially operates as an international arrest warrant – against Lainé in connection with his conviction on sex trafficking charges in 2010.

After Lainé’s lawyers successfully petitioned for a retrial, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court reconfirmed the verdict of seven years late last month.

Lainé was unaware of the first conviction, and only learned of it after he was briefly arrested on the red notice while working outside of France in 2012. He returned to France, where he lives now, in circumstances that haven’t been fully explained. His lawyer said that once Interpol issues a red notice, every country is free to respect it or, in the case of France, do nothing.

Should Lainé leave the country, however, which he often has to for work, anything could happen.

Lainé’s legal troubles are connected to a 2003 film he made about the sex tourism industry in Cambodia, which appeared on French television and angered people depicted in it. Adhoc says the documentary had also irked officials who deemed it portrayed Cambodia in an unflattering light.

His supporters say the original complaint against Lainé, which led to the 2010 conviction, came from three women – one of whom says she appeared in the film against her will – and that it had nothing to do with sex trafficking.

“Only one of them mentioned Daniel Lainé: she pretends he filmed her with a hidden camera while she was going home (Sihanoukville) and that she is identified as a prostitute in the French documentary,” said his lawyer, Clémence Witt, in an email from France. “It’s the only element motivating the sentence of seven years of jail for the crime of [pimping].”

In its statement, Reporters Without Borders, which monitors press freedom around the world, called for the “immediate withdrawal” of the red notice, and urged the court to drop the charges.

But Keo Vannthan, head of Cambodia’s Interpol bureau, said that was unlikely to happen.

“Interpol can withdraw it in the case of his arrest or if his jail term ends,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Freeman at [email protected]
With assistance from Cheang Sokha

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • China-Cambodia tourism forum held

    The Cambodian tourism sector must be prepared to welcome a growing number of Chinese tourists, as they lead the globe in the number of outbound travellers and were responsible for the most visitors to the Kingdom last year, the country’s tourism minister said on