A former RT News translator and ‘fixer’ who was sentenced to two years in a Cambodian prison for his work on a prostitution documentary has appealed the Supreme Court over the decision.
Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia, said the case was an attempt to manipulate the media. saying: “It is painfully obvious that the authorities want to make an example of Mony and intimidate anyone else who seeks to uncover human rights violations in Cambodia.
The man jailed, Rath Rott Mony, 48, works as an English-Khmer translator. He was convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on 26 June 2019 for ‘incitement to discriminate’ under article 496 of the Criminal Code.
Amnesty International considers Rath Rott Mony a prisoner of conscience because he has been arbitrarily criminalised due to the “peaceful and legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression”.
The appeal was heard at the Cambodian Supreme Court at the end of June after the RT News fixer was convicted of ‘incitement to discriminate’ regarding the production of a 2018 sex-trafficking documentary called ‘My Mother Sold Me’.
The documentary featured poor families who allegedly sold their daughters’ virginity for about 400 USD (321 GBP) before forcing them into prostitution.
After it went viral, a mother and daughter in the news documentary retracted their statements after police questioning, according to reports.
Rott Mony was arrested on 9th December 2018 and was convicted on 26th June 2019 by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
He was sentenced to two years in prison before appealing at the Appeal Court.
On 29th November 2019, the Appeal Court upheld his conviction and he appealed to the Supreme Court.
During last week’s Supreme Court hearing, Rott Mony claimed that the sentence by the lower courts was unjust because he was not the producer of the documentary and only worked as a fixer and a translator with no say over the content.
Rott Mony has asked the court to drop the charge and release him from prison.
His lawyer Lor Chunthy told the court: “The judges at the lower courts have made a mistake in deciding to convict my client and sentence him to two years in jail because they did not properly study or inspect the elements of the accusation against my client.
“My client did not produce the documentary or the story. The film was produced by RT News.”
Deputy prosecutor Chhuon Chantha told the court that Rott Mony was heavily involved in the RT News production and that it could not have been made without his help.
A verdict is expected on 15th July.
The Supreme Court also reportedly heard a separate appeal from former Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalists Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin against the lower courts’ decisions to reinvestigate pornography charges against them both.
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