Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sonando bail rejection draws rights groups’ ire

Sonando bail rejection draws rights groups’ ire

Sonando bail rejection draws rights groups’ ire

121217 02

Beehive Radio director Mam Sonando (centre) arrives at the Appeal Court on Friday in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Beehive Radio director Mam Sonando (centre) arrives at the Appeal Court on Friday in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Backlash against the Appeal Court decision to deny jailed Beehive Radio director Mam Sonando bail continued over the weekend, with civil society groups calling on the government and Supreme Court to overturn the ruling.

The court’s decision to deny the 72-year-old’s request on the grounds that his dual citizenship made him a flight risk and that his release posed a threat to public order was decried by rights groups as a clear case of government judicial interference.

Licadho technical adviser Am Sam Ath yesterday expressed disappointment at Friday’s decision, saying that he had been optimistic beforehand, given the evidence in Sonando’s favour.

“We think that this decision does not have decent reasoning, and it is based on the political behaviour” of the judge, he said. “However, we called on the appeal court to speed up the case of Mom Sonando for [an appeal] hearing, as well as to decide his case based on the law, events and witnesses.”

On Friday Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said in an interview that though the appeal court rarely reversed decisions, he thought bail might have served as a roundabout way out for Sonando.

“We hoped that maybe the tide had turned a bit and the government and Hun Sen were saying, ‘that’s enough of a crackdown’ . . . but I guess the backwards movement and the repression of human rights continues.”

In a statement released the same day, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee – an alliance of 21 NGOs – said that it was “deeply concerned about the connection between political motivations and the court’s verdict”.

Tith Sothea, a spokesman for the government’s Press and Quick Reaction Unit, said on Friday that rights groups were confused about their roles in society.

“The court has reached a fair judgment, so the question is whether civil society wants to have the court system or not,” he said. “What they are doing is interfering in the task of the defence lawyer.”

MOST VIEWED

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh