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Cambodia: 133 CSOs call for the release of detained journalists and an end to media crackdown

Author: Narim Khuon, Khmer Times, Published on: 21 May 2020

"Groups want charges against journos dropped", 19 May 2020

Some 130 civil society groups and a union ... called on the government and court officials to drop charges against journalists Sok Oudom and Sovann Rithy, noting that officials have been targeting journalists over their reporting.

The groups, including Cambodian Journalists Alliance, Licadho, Adhoc and Center for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights, issued a statement appealing to the Kampong Chhnang provincial and Phnom Penh municipal courts to drop the charges against them.

“We, the undersigned civil society groups, urgently call on the government to drop all charges against imprisoned journalists Sok Oudom and Sovann Rithy and to halt harassment of other journalists in Cambodia who are facing prosecution for their critical reporting,” read the statement...

..., the Kampong Chhnang court charged Oudom for incitement to commit felony after allegedly inciting villagers to encroach on state land within Aural Wildlife Sanctuary.

This follows the arrest of popular journalist Rithy ... for allegedly misquoting Prime Minister Hun Sen’s statement on the government’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

... Nop Vy, executive director of Cambodian Journalists Alliance, ... expressed concern that freedom of the press has been restricted.

“We have seen recently the arrests of some journalists as well as the revoking of their media operation licences. We think that it is not a positive sign for the improvement of a free press,” he said...

Information Ministry spokesman Meas Sophorn said ... he encouraged the civil society groups to provide legal assistance to the journalists rather than issue a statement while their cases are proceeding in court...

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