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Mixed reaction to jailing of editor

R EACTION to the jailing of the Daily News editor Nguon Noun was mixed. Human

rights advocates saw the jailing as a clear human rights violation, but

Cambodian reporters were more willing to see the government's side in the issue,

and to say that Nguon Noun made a mistakes that prompted his arrest.

The

Cambodian editor was arrested after publishing stories that inveighed against

government corruption. The Royal Government said that the proximate cause of the

arrest was his failure to respond to two court summonses. He was released two

days later.

Ang Eng Hong, General Secretary of the Cambodian Human Rights

and Development Association (ADHOC), had stronger opinions. "I think that Nguon

Nun's detention was a human rights violation. There was no trial, there was no

trial, he has not been determined guilty, how can he be detained."

"This

was a simple act of intimidation. They did not just detain him, they put him in

T-3, they made him change his clothes [into a prison uniform]."

Ang Eng

Hong said that the King and others intervened in the situation in order to

settle it. Nguon has now been released, and the matter appears to be settled,

but it is not. I think that this story will continue, it will not end."

A

reporter for a Khmer newspaper, and who declined to be identified, said: "More

than 50% of the people support Nguon Nun's side. We agree with the letter of

King Sihanouk who said that press should be given as much freedom as possible.

But we are between socialism and democracy, and people's ideas must change, this

will take a long time. We have finished socialism. We are moving toward freedom.

The situation is still mixed, the old ideas are still strong."

An

Cambodian newspaper editor said: "There were two mistakes made. The government

made a mistake by arresting Nguon. By the law in Cambodia, Nguon made a mistake

by making a charge against an individual without having documents or

proof."

The same editor was asked about the consequences of the arrest.

Was he more afraid to write what he considered to be the truth? The

editor said: "We are not afraid about the corruption. We are afraid of the

authorities. They act outside the law. You know, Nguon was on Funcinpec

committee before he became the editor of Morning News, and they could not

protect him. What will we do? We do not even have Funcinpec to protect

us?"

The news editor from another newspaper said: "This did not make us

more afraid, we have always been afraid."

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