Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Case against Cambodia Daily journalists progresses

Case against Cambodia Daily journalists progresses

Former opposition commune chief Rmam Yout (right), seen in a photograph with the current CPP Pate commune chief-elect Chhay Thy. Facebook
Former opposition commune chief Rmam Yout (right), seen in a photograph with the current CPP Pate commune chief-elect Chhay Thy. Facebook

Case against Cambodia Daily journalists progresses

After questioning three residents of Ratanakkiri’s Pate commune yesterday, the provincial court announced that two Cambodia Daily reporters would be summonsed in two weeks to respond to questions regarding a complaint filed against them for seemingly routine reporting.

Provincial Prosecutor Chea Pich said that plaintiffs Rocham Yi, 28, Sev Born, 35, and former CNRP Commune Chief Rmam Yout, 41, were questioned yesterday, after their summonsing on June 4. “I just want to tell you that they already appeared to be questioned,” he said.

He said the court would summons the two journalists for June 27. Pich said he was unaware of the specific charges against the two journalists. Previously, he had pointed to Article 171 of the Commune Election Law, which prohibits “causing confusion that leads to a loss of trust” and compromising the secrecy of a vote.

The journalists – Zsombor Peter and Aun Pheap – allegedly asked villagers why they had supported the opposition Sam Rainsy Party in the 2012 commune elections, while the rest of the province mostly voted for the Cambodian People’s Party.

Despite the routine nature of the interviews – which came in the lead-up to the June 4 commune poll – the trio lodged a complaint against the journalists on May 22 for asking questions that they said were “incitement with bad intention”.

The government was accused of creating a hostile press environment ahead of the poll, with the National Election Committee releasing a vaguely worded and restrictive code of conduct – dubbed a “code of censorship” by critics – for media outlets, accompanied by threats to revoke the licences of violators.

Born yesterday said he had asked for $3,000 to drop the matter, despite the fact that neither the Commune Election Law nor the article for incitement appear to allow for compensation. “I was asked whether I want to continue the case, or stop it here, or what I want. I said I need 12 million riel in compensation for me alone,” he said, and added that if the journalists failed to compensate him, he would ask the court to imprison them. “It’s incitement when reporting about politics during the [election] campaign.”

Fellow plaintiff Yout said he was questioned for about 10 minutes. “[The journalists] asked me who and what party I support. I did not tell them. I will vote for any party I like. It’s my right,” Yout said, adding that the court would decide on potential compensation.

Yi could not be reached.

Cambodia Daily General Manager Douglas Steele said he had heard of neither the questioning nor any summons. Asked whether the two reporters would appear, he said that “we will comply with Cambodian law . . . They committed an act of journalism, and that’s not a crime.”

Additional reporting by Leonie Kijewski

MOST VIEWED

  • All foreigners' accommodations to be inspected: Sar Kheng

    The Ministry of Interior is undertaking a serious effort to inspect all the accommodations of foreigners in Cambodia – except diplomats – in order to find and identify human traffickers. Minister Sar Kheng said this would include inspections on the homes of foreigners employed by businesses, private

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • NBC eyes KHQR payments in Laos, Vietnam

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is working with Lao and Vietnamese authorities to expand the use of KHQR code cross-border payment systems to promote trade and investment as well as increase the scope of regional economic linkages, and in particular, facilitate remittances from overseas