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CCJ critical of defamation cases

THE Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) on Thursday urged Kampong Chhnang provincial court officials to review two cases in which three journalists have been accused of defamation, saying an investigation had revealed that the charges facing them were baseless.

In one of the cases, Chheang Tharith, a reporter for Kampuchea Thmey, was sued for defamation following an April story in which provincial anti-human trafficking police Chief Prak Sao Ny was accused of releasing a rape suspect who had paid compensation to his alleged victim, according to a CCJ statement.

The second case concerns two journalists – Koh Santepheap reporter Pov Sok Hean and Nou Chan, a photographer for Khmer Sthapana – and Sok Ny, a Forestry Department official, all of whom, the statement says, have been charged with defamation in connection with a story published last year concerning the illegal clearance of state land.

“According to the printed articles, CCJ found that the articles followed professional standards,” the statement says. “There were no points that could lead to defamation or disinformation.”

It goes on to say that if the cases proceed, court officials should try the suspects under the Press Law, which does not allow for prison sentences.

Pov Sok Hean said the article at issue in his case detailed the clearance of 4 hectares of land by Nuon Sovannarith, who responded by filing a defamation complaint against him. He added that his reporting had been sound.

Nuon Sovannarith could not be reached Thursday.

Investigating judge San Sophat said that, in both cases, the charges facing the journalists should be disinformation, not defamation. “The evidence revealed that this is disinformation, which could lead to a sentence of one to three years in prison,” he said.

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