O fficials of two journalism associations are calling on the Information Ministry
to make changes to a draft sub-decree regulating newspapers.
But the officials generally approved of the draft's definitions of vague terms in
two controversial articles of the press law passed last July by the National Assembly
- Article 12, which makes it a crime to publish material that would "affect
national security or political stability" and Article 13, which criminalizes
"false information that humiliates national institutions". Some journalists,
though, called for elimination of provisions making it a crime to criticize the King.
The Khmer Journalists Association (KJA) was preparing a formal request that the ministry
take out of the sub-decree a long list of requirements that editors must meet in
order to start a new newspaper - including professional education. The vice-president
of the League of Cambodian Journalists (LCJ) agreed that a request be sent.
The officials made the suggestions at a seminar on the draft sub-decree Dec 9.
Pen Peng of the LCJ, urged journalists to fight to change the decree before the draft
Information Minister Ieng Mouly promised to issue the sub-decree defining vague terms
in Articles 12 and 13 as the National Assembly debated the law last year. The ministry
invited officials of the association and foreign legal advisers to discuss the draft
last month and made several changes.
Of primary concern to journalists at the seminar were the list of requirements that
editors or owners of new newspapers must meet in order to publish. They include that
they must have a degree, professional training or three years experience, a letter
of recommendation from a journalists association, a bank account with 2.5 million
riel (about $1,000) and a certification from a doctor that they have no mental illness.
Such requirements are "contrary to the press law and I think that there is no
need to put such unnecessary things like that in the draft," Peng told the journalists.
The press law requires only that newspapers inform the ministry of the names of the
papers, and their owners' names and address, and whether the owner has a criminal