Journalist Daniel Lainé Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison
Phnom Penh, 30 January 2013 — The Phnom Penh Municipal Court confirmed yesterday the verdict pronounced against French reporter Daniel Lainé in 2010 and sentenced him to seven years imprisonment for sex trafficking. However, it is widely believed that Mr. Lainé, who is currently in France, has been targeted for his investigative work into sex tourism and sex trafficking in Cambodia. The trial, which took place on 10 January and which the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) monitored, only served to demonstrate the absence of credible evidence against Mr. Lainé. He may have been a victim of judicial persecution for informing the public about sex trafficking and painting a “bad” image of Cambodia.
In 2003, Mr. Lainé travelled to Cambodia to make a documentary on sex tourism, which was later broadcast on French television channel TF1. Following the broadcast, Mr. Lainé was threatened by a French citizen who lives in Phnom Penh and who had helped him to locate prostitution places. The man had spoken—with his face blurred out and his voice modified—about his frequent use of prostitutes. He later demanded $125,000 from Daniel Lainé as compensation for the harm he allegedly suffered (he declared having been recognized by relatives in the televised report).
In 2006, Mr. Lainé came back to Cambodia and was summoned by the Ministry of Interior, which confiscated his passport, but he managed to leave the country. In 2012, after having been arrested, and briefly detained, in a third country on the basis of an Interpol “Red Notice,” he found out that he had been convicted in abstentia by a Cambodian court in 2010, following a complaint filed by three women (one of them is a close friend of the man who was interviewed in the televised report). The Cambodian government requested Interpol to issue a Red Notice for Mr. Lainé earlier in 2012.
Because of gross violations of Mr. Lainé’s rights, his lawyers lodged an opposition motion against the 2010 judgment and obtained that a new first instance trial be held. The proceedings against Mr. Lainé were marred with irregularities and gross violations of his defense rights. For instance, Mr. Lainé and his lawyers were unaware a criminal case file had been opened against him; only one witness testified against him; and he was not notified of the judgment.
During the 2013 trial, no new evidence was presented by the prosecution. Witnesses’ testimonies appeared to be extremely weak and at any rate unrelated to the serious charges leveled against Mr. Lainé. In a nutshell, there was no credible evidence supporting the harsh sentence announced yesterday. ADHOC therefore calls on the Cambodian judicial authorities to review the case against Daniel Lainé in an independent and timely manner and to uphold fair trial standards and the rights of the defense. ADHOC also calls on Interpol to withdraw the Red Notice issued for Daniel Lainé so he can carry out his professional activities worldwide. Freedom of the press is at the core of this case, and Daniel Lainé may have been judicially harassed for informing the public about sex trafficking and painting a “bad” image of Cambodia.
For further information, please contact:
Mr. Ny Chakrya, Head of Human Rights Program at ADHOC: 011 274 959 (Khmer, English)
Mr. Nicolas Agostini, Technical Assistant: 078 405 024 (English, French)