International Human Rights Representatives Visit Jailed Editor

Representatives from the International Federation for Human Rights and the World Organization Against Torture yesterday visited Hang Chakra, the imprisoned newspaper editor, according to Mong Kimheng, director of the correctional facility for adult males at Prey Sar prison.

Four foreign men met with Mr Chakra for about an hour yesterday morning and were able to talk to him freely, Mr Kimheng said.

“Mr Chakra’s health is good,” he added.

Chheav Hourlay, prison researcher for local human rights group Licadho, said he accompanied the foreign visitors to the prison and that Licadho Director Naly Pilorge accompanied the men into the prison.

Ms Pilorge said following yesterday’s visit that her organization hoped Mr Chakra would soon be able to return to his family.

Chum Sophal, editor of the SRP-affiliated newspaper Khmer Mchas Srok, who replaced Mr Chakra after his incarceration on charges of spreading disinformation, said Mr Chakra has had many visitors.

“Although [Mr Chakra] has been in there for eight, he still has four months more of prison,” he said yesterday. “We are hopeless about him.”

Reporters Without Borders, a press freedom organization based in Paris, called for the release of Mr Chakra and Ros Sokhet, another jailed reporter, on Monday.

The organization ranked Cambodia 117 out of 175 countries on its press freedom list in October.

Mr Chakra was found guilty in June of spreading disinformation for publishing an article that alleged government corruption at the Council of Ministers. He was sentenced to a year in prison. Mr Chakra unsuccessfully tried to appeal his conviction in August.

“Living in prison is an ordeal. The tension, the violence, the lack of proper food. I get weak very quickly,” Mr Chakra told Reporters Without Borders when staff from the organization went to meet ahead of publishing their report.

        (Additional reporting by Christi Hang)


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