T he nation's new press law is still on hold, this time until
after the ICOR meeting in Tokyo.
Minister of Information Ieng Mouly
denied the government had intentionally delayed moving on the press law to avoid
criticism prior to the important donor's meeting.
Many press and human
rights experts in Phnom Penh have worried that the new law would include
pre-publication censorship. Sources close to internal government discussions say
that there are those in the Council of Ministers who have pushed for
The new press law will replace the former State of Cambodia (SOC)
press law which is still on the books though not enforced.
In spite of
articulating a commitment to freedom of the press, the SOC law "included many
stringent censorship measures which even if they were not enforced would create
an environment of fear and motivate self-censorship," one law expert has
Mouly told the Post that the draft law sent to Council of Ministers
contained no provisions for pre-publication censorship. This contradicted the
statement of Sieng Lapresse, the Spokesman for the Ministry of Information,
given the same day, that the draft law contained pre-publication censorship as
Sieng said that the delay in the press law was due to the fact
that insufficient copies had been made for distribution to the sixty members of
the Council of Ministers.
H.E. Ieng Mouly said that even if the press law
was passed today, the National Assembly could not act on the law until it
reconvened in April.
"Whatever delays have been involved were necessary
for the fullest and broadest consultation before the next meeting of the
National Assembly" Mouly said. He said the draft press law would be ready at
that time, and it would be accepted by the Assembly.
Mouly added "the the
press law needs to be debated in the National Assembly, and the government has
made some progress, we did not set the law aside."