The Appeal Court on Friday upheld the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s two-year jail sentence against Rath Rott Mony for incitement to discriminate for his work with Moscow-based RT News.
RT’s documentary, “My Mother Sold Me,” which was released last year, told the story of three young girls who were supposedly sold for sex by their mothers.
Rott Mony has maintained that he was a mere translator and fixer, but prosecutors have pointed out that he was credited as a producer and accused him of convincing the mothers to lie on camera.
Presiding Judge Plang Samnang read the verdict aloud in court, upholding the lower court’s verdict. He added that the defendant had the right to further take the case to the Supreme Court.
In the courtroom, Rott Mony once again said he was not a producer. He was paid $120 a day to help the visiting journalists, he said.
Long Kimhean, Rott Mony’s brother-in-law, spoke to reporters after the decision, saying he could not understand Rott Mony’s continuing detention.
“I think the Appeal Court’s decision to uphold the municipal court’s verdict is injustice, because he told the court that he was not a producer for the documentary,” Kimhean said.
Kimhean said the Appeal Court should have reviewed all documents provided by the defense before issuing its decision.
Rott Mony told reporters that he was feeling hopeless about Cambodia’s court system.
“It is very unjust for me because I was not a producer for the video,” he said.
He noted that he would appeal to the Supreme Court even though he did not believe in the country’s court system.
Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager at rights group Licadho, said the Appeal Court’s decision was regrettable.
“It is harsh, and puts pressure on other journalists,” Sam Ath said. “He was a translator and fixer.”
He said that instead of attacking the documentary, the government should work harder to prevent human trafficking in the country.
In the U.S.’s June “Trafficking in Persons Report,” Cambodia was upgraded from “tier two” to “tier two watch list,” indicating either that trafficking is rising or there are some shortcomings in efforts to address trafficking.
“If the court continues to punish Mr. Rott Mony like this, it makes international and national [observers] continue to criticize human right issues in Cambodia,” Sam Ath said. “The government should crack down on human trafficking activities rather than arrest a person who helped show the problem.”