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Journalists seeks changes to press sub-decree

Journalists seeks changes to press sub-decree

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

is adopted.

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

record.

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