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Union urges customs officials to apply press law against reporters

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The customs bureau chief of Prek Chak checkpoint on Sunday filed a lawsuit against nearly 10 journalists for insulting and illegal interference with the fulfilment of officials’ duties after a video clip showing an argument between officials and the group of journalists came under fire. FACEBOOK

Union urges customs officials to apply press law against reporters

The Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia (UJFC) has called on Prek Chak customs officials in Kampot province to use the Law on the Press to avoid court action against 1 online reporters.

A lawsuit demanding $100,000 in compensation was filed against the journalists on Monday.

The statement came after Yi Thol, chief of the Prek Chak Bureau of Customs and Excise, filed a formal complaint with the courts on Monday for “insulting” and “illegal interference in their performance of duties” after a video clip showing a dispute between customs officials and the journalists drew criticism.

The UJFC on Tuesday urged the relevant parties and authorities to use the Law on the Press when dealing with complaints in connection with journalists. It also welcomed reconciliation between the two sides.

“We take this opportunity to call on reporters to kindly adhere to the Code of Ethics for Cambodian Journalists, especially when covering events, to avoid threats, abuse and the obstruction of the roles of the authorities and public servants, as well as encroachment on the body, rights, value and identity of the individual."

“Those involved, including officials of the state, please kindly avoid using insulting words, physical assault, and the snatching and destruction of journalists’ materials, to fully collaborate to give reporters information to promote ‘information law access’ and allow them to spread information that is of benefit to the public,” the UJFC said.

Man Boreth of the Kandal Provincial Court said a complaint had been received on Monday and had been forwarded to the prosecutor for approval.

Kampot Provincial Court Deputy Prosecutor Khan Sophal told The Post on Wednesday that the case was in the hands of the prosecutor but had yet to be decided upon.

“We have just received the case and have not yet looked into it,” Sophal said.

Sao Bophann, a lawyer representing Thol, told The Post on Wednesday that he had sufficient evidence to bring a case against the 10 reporters to court and rejected reconciliation outside the legal system.

“We have collected evidence and filed a complaint against them. Regarding negotiations, I cannot accept the idea because the customs officials called on me to work on the case,” Bophann said.

The two-minute video has been shared on social media since late May. It shows an altercation between a group of journalists and customs officials.

One reporter is seen pushing Thol after he snatched a reporter’s mobile phone while he was filming the alleged transport of contraband goods from Vietnam.

Following the incident, the two sides agreed to admit their respective mistakes and apologise.

However, following criticism on social media, the 41-year-old Thol, from the Prek Chak Bureau of Customs and Excise in Kampot, lodged a lawsuit demanding $100,000 in compensation from the journalists.

The UJFC said it would continue monitoring the case.

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