Two Cambodia Daily reporters did not show up to Ratanakkiri Provincial Court yesterday following a complaint filed about election-related coverage in May and an alleged summons, which the newspaper’s management says it never received.
Chea Pich, the prosecutor handling the complaint, said the two reporters – Zsombor Peter and Aun Pheap – had been summonsed separately to appear yesterday morning and afternoon, but neither had done so.
“I sat waiting for them, but I did not even get any information from them,” he said.
The duo are the target of a complaint filed by former CNRP Commune Chief Rmam Yout and two villagers from Ratanakkiri’s Pate commune over seemingly routine reporting on the locale’s electoral prospects in the recent elections. The three were questioned by the court on June 14.
The three claimed the questions were intrusive, “incited people” and were against rules on reporting, though it is unclear which rules were violated. National Election Committee guidelines only restrict reporting 24 hours prior to the ballot; publishing “confusing information” that erodes trust in the election; publishing “personal ideas and prejudgments”; reporting on baseless information; and insulting a national institution or candidate.
Cambodia Daily General Manager Douglas Steele said they had not received any summonses and did not want to comment on something that was still not “real”. He also questioned the premise of the complaint, adding that no actual crime had been identified.
“If someone accuses you of inciting someone to take a walk – well, taking a walk isn’t illegal. And neither is journalism [illegal]. So where is the crime that is being incited?” he asked.
Pich, the prosecutor, said he was unaware of whether or not the summons had been delivered and declined to share a copy of the document, adding that he would issue another one at a later date.