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Review of Press Law begins

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A newspaper stand near Wat Langka in Phnom Penh. Post staff

Review of Press Law begins

The Ministry of Information began reviewing amendments to the Press Law on Tuesday to bring it in line with recent developments in the media industry and current legal standards.

Phos Sovann, the director-general of the Department of Information and Broadcasting, told The Post that the Ministry of Information’s Press Law amendment working group had met for the first time on Tuesday.

Acting Minister of Information Ouk Prathna is to review the legal aspects of the amendment.

“All members of the working group discussed an initial step. All legal aspects of the amendments must be studied.

“The Press Law is 24-years-old, having been passed in 1995, so it must be reviewed to reflect the current media landscape,” said Sovann, who is also Ministry of Information spokesman.

Sovann said while the ministry had previously reviewed parts of the law before Tuesday’s meeting, input regarding amendments would continue to be gathered.

“We have yet to reach the step of revising the meaning or content of the law. We are still collecting comments from all the working groups and will have subsequent meetings to examine which articles of the law needed to be amended,” Sovann said.

He said regarding applications for establishing media institutions, there were currently no requirements as to the level of education, age or the ability of publishers as the current law was too open.

The executive director of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, Chhay Sophal, said its members and others in the media also wanted amendments made to the Press Law to bring it in line with current trends.

“There are still loopholes in some Articles of the current Press Law. I think the ministry also sees this, which is why a committee was formed to revise it,” Sophal said.

While the current Press Law consisted of five chapters and 22 Articles, the focus was only on print journalism, while digital and online media were on the rise, he said.

Sophal said: “Most of the provisions in the current Press Law restrict journalists. It fails to stipulate punishments for government officials who provide information [to reporters] in the first place, for example.”

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