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

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light for anyone who contracts the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron mutation or any other variant to convalesce or receive treatment at home or in any other reasonable non-healthcare setting. The new decision supersedes a restriction on home care for

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42