Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Opposition, media plead for release of journalists

Opposition, media plead for release of journalists

Opposition, media plead for release of journalists

Newspaper publisher Hang Chakra was jailed earlier this year.

It is just a statement, which has no power on the judicial system.

CAMBODIAN media groups as well as opposition lawmakers have urged authorities to release two journalists who were jailed amid controversy earlier this year.

Representatives from 50 Cambodian news organisations issued a statement calling for the release of Hang Chakra, publisher of the opposition-aligned Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, and freelance journalist Ros Sokhet, said Pen Samitthy, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ).

“We are calling on the Cambodian government, under the intelligent leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen, to request the King to pardon the two jailed journalists,” said Pen Samitthy, who is also the editor-in-chief of the Rasmey Kampuchea newspaper.

In a separate letter to the National Assembly, 16 parliamentarians with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party also urged the Ministry of Justice to take action.

Hang Chakra was convicted in June of spreading disinformation after publishing a series of stories accusing officials of corruption. Ros Sokhet was convicted of disinformation charges in November after a court ruled that he sent disparaging text messages to CTN anchor Soy Sopheap.

A government official defended the journalists’ convictions Monday and downplayed the CCJ’s demands.

“It is just a statement, which has no power or influence on the judicial system to force them to reverse the courts’ decisions,” said Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan. “The court has made the right decision to find them guilty.”

Previous appeals from journalists’ organisations, opposition parliamentarians and even King Norodom Sihamoni have so far failed to reverse the convictions. The King has the power to grant pardons under the Cambodian constitution, but a sub-decree stipulates that the Prime Minister must issue a formal request before amnesty can be granted.

Meanwhile, Ros Sokhet has written that he “regrets” sending the text messages to Soy Sopheap, according to a copy of the letter given to the Post.

In the letter, he says he never believed the messages, which appeared to allege corruption, would land him in prison.

“I wholeheartedly inform all of you that I had no intention to publicise the allegations in any newspapers, as they were just rumours,” Ros Sokhet wrote. “I am very regretful for those messages.”

Rights groups and journalists’ groups have criticised Cambodian authorities, citing a lack of press freedom in the Kingdom.

“Cambodia does not have a free media in the true sense of the word,” a briefing paper on freedom of expression in the press released this year by local rights group Licadho stated.

In its Press Freedom Ranking this year, international press watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked Cambodia 117th out of 174 countries.


  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group