December 20, 2010
The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) condemns the groundless conviction of United Nations’ World Food Program national staff Seng Kunnaka by the Phnom Penh court on Sunday morning, December 20, 2010.
Seng Kunnaka was arrested on Friday before noon by the Russei Keo district police. The arrest occured after Kunnaka printed and shared material found on the website ki-media, an online blog dedicated to aggregating news articles and opinions on Cambodia including material critical of its government.
After spending a night in the police station, Kunnaka was sent to the Phnom Penh court for questioning before returning to police custody for another night.
The next day, on Sunday morning, the Phnom Penh court judge Kao Vandy declared Kunnaka guilty of criminal incitement – article 495 of the new criminal code – and sentenced the man to six months in prison and fined 1 million riel.
“This rushed trial and groundless conviction is further proof of the growing crackdown on freedom of expression by the Cambodian government”, says LICADHO Director Naly Pilorge.
“As we pointed out in our public analysis, the new criminal code in its current form is a threat to freedom of expression in the country,” Pilorge added. “This conviction, exactly ten days after the enactment of the new criminal code, is clear evidence of that.”
LICADHO urges the appeals court to grant bail to Seng Kunnaka pending a re-examination of his groundless conviction.
Furthermore, LICADHO renews its call for the new criminal code to be amended to insure the respect and protection of fundamental rights of every Cambodian to freedom of expression and information, as guaranteed by Cambodia’s constitution.
For more information, please contact:
LICADHO Director Naly Pilorge, 012 803 650
LICADHO Technical Supervisor Am Sam Ath, 012 327 770