Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Defamation still a crime

Defamation still a crime

Defamation still a crime

Recent public statements of the Cambodian government and its affiliated media obscure

facts and misrepresent the issue of decriminalization of the defamation law.

In its editorial of 3/4/06, Reaksmei Kampuchea declared that "press freedom

watchers worldwide applauded the government's declaration to retrieve criminal punishment

from the defamation law." However, in fact, criminal punishment has not been

removed entirely. Criminal punishment stands by way of criminal fines and more.

Not just Article 63 of the Transitional Law (Law) relates to defamation but also

Articles 59 and 60 on criminal incitement; Article 61 on discriminatory incitement,

Article 62 on "disinformation," and Article 63 on defamation and insult.

Conviction under the last four Articles carries penalties of significant terms of

imprisonment. These five Articles are the product of the cutting-and-pasting of Articles

23, 27 and 29 of the French Press Law (1881) by French magistrates Serge Durond and

Gerard Porcell (Head of UNTAC Civil Administration Component) who drafted the Law.

The UNTAC drafters' intention and wording is relatively clear that these articles

were meant to relate to the press.

If imprisonment is taken out from Article 63, therefore, the Press (the accused)

is not off the hook. There are three more Articles (60, 61, 62) in the Law that can

continue to be used against them, especially Article 62 which is vague and more dangerous.

So "press freedom watchers" don't get too excited - you are being misled.

Further, what has been generally ignored by the Cambodian judiciary and government

is the fact that Articles 59-63 of the Law have been repealed since the Press Law

1995 came into force (see Article 21 in particular). This Press law too carries criminal

fines.

As such, the arrests, the imprisonment and the punishment of people accused of breaches

of Articles 59-63 of the Law since the Press Law 1995 came into force have been illegal

and the police, judicial members and those who ordered arrests, imprisonment and

punishment under those articles of the Law are guilty of violation of the accused's

physical integrity and illegal confinement under Articles 35 and 57 of the Law respectively.

If the victims have not filed criminal complaints for this abuse, they should do

so.

Bora Touch - Sydney

MOST VIEWED

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget