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January 28, 2020

ABA Center for Human Rights TrialWatch Fairness Report gives D-grade to Cambodian journalists’ trial

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2020 – The American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights, in conjunction with the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch initiative, issued a TrialWatch Fairness Report with a grade of “D” after its monitoring of the public trial hearings in the Cambodian government’s prosecution of former Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalists Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin.

The report finds that the trial entailed gross violations of international standards, resulting in significant harm to the defendants. There was no evidence that the defendants were doing anything other than the work of journalists, as protected by international human rights law. In addition, the report found that the trial appeared to be inconsistent with several fair trial rights, such as the right to be adequately informed of the nature and cause of the charges, the right to an independent and impartial tribunal, and the right to the presumption of innocence.

This is a preliminary finding, as the trial is at present adjourned for further investigations. However, since Cambodian authorities are still pursuing the charges despite the lack of evidence, the report concluded the government is using the investigations to intimidate the independent media.

A copy of the ABA’s Center for Human Rights TrialWatch Fairness Report can be read here.

A statement and call to action from the Clooney Foundation for Justice on the trial can be read here.

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The Clooney Foundation for Justice's TrialWatch initiative monitors criminal prosecutions of vulnerable persons around the world. For more information, go to