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5 Jul 2020

Narin Sun, VOA

Cambodia: Independent media & journalists express their concerns about recent arrests and threats related to their reporting

"Cambodia’s Use of Incitement Law Chills Press Freedom", 03 July 2020

Cambodia’s use of incitement laws to jail journalists sends a threatening message to news outlets and could result in self-censorship, media experts say…

Recently, the law was used to jail three journalists, in a move that local press groups warn could silence critical reporting.

Ros Sokhet, publisher of the Cheat Khmer newspaper, was arrested …; Sok Oudom, owner of the Rithysen Radio News Station, was taken into pretrial detention in May; and Sovann Rithy, who runs the Facebook-based TVFB news outlet, was charged .... All three are in custody in Phnom Penh.

Ith Sothoeuth, media director at the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, said the government should not use criminal code provisions, such as incitement, against journalists, especially if they were only expressing opinions.

“We have the Press Law, and I think in cases related to journalists, we should use this law, especially when they are expressing opinions,” Ith Sothoeuth said…

Nop Vy, executive director of the Cambodia Journalist Alliance, said the arrests were a “threat” or warning to other reporters to refrain from critical reportage, and that authorities should use the Press Law rather than criminal charges.

“Journalists now are more fearful of writing their articles,” Nop Vy said. “Those journalists will restrict their freedom of expression [by not] writing opinion pieces.”…

Information Ministry spokesperson Meas Sophorn denied the arrests were related to press freedom or the right to free expression and said the reporters had broken the law…