The U.S. says it is “deeply concerned” about the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision Wednesday to sentence the translator for a documentary about alleged underage sex trafficking to two years in prison for “incitement to discriminate.”
The statement from the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh came after Moscow’s RT news service, which produced the film titled “My Mother Sold Me”, said it was “extremely disappointed” by the decision to imprison Rath Rott Mony, 48.
The U.S. Embassy said the sentence raised serious questions about the judiciary.
“We are deeply concerned by the sentencing of Cambodian labor activist Rath Rott Mony to two years in jail for his assistance in the production of a documentary about sex trafficking. Reports on Mony’s trial suggest that he was not provided fair trial guarantees,” said Emily Zeeberg, a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy.
“His sentencing further erodes the credibility of the Cambodian judicial system.”
The statement added that the U.S. “supports freedom of expression worldwide as a key component of democratic governance” and said that the jailing of Rott Mony impacted efforts by the Cambodian government to fight human trafficking.
“Freedom of expression is also essential to documenting and raising awareness of Cambodia’s human trafficking problem,” the U.S. statement said.
Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin accused the U.S. of interfering in Cambodia’s internal affairs by commenting on a judicial decision.
“We think that the U.S. Embassy statement is an interference in court affairs. It means their assessment was not based on legal grounds,” Malin told VOD. “The court sentence was not because of [Rott Mony] practicing journalism but because of acts that were committed against criminal laws.”
Released in October, “My Mother Sold Me” tells the stories of Cambodian girls who were allegedly forced into sex work to help alleviate their families’ poverty.
(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)