The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the move by the National Assembly of Cambodia to abolish the jail term for defamation.
The move to decriminalise defamation was passed in Cambodia’s National Assembly on Friday May 26, and is welcomed as a considerable development towards press freedom and democratic rights in Cambodia.
“The IFJ and the Cambodian Association for Protection of Journalists (CAPJ), welcome the removal of criminal sanctions for defamation as a step towards greater press freedom in South East Asia,” IFJ president Christopher Warren said.
“The IFJ has long urged authorities in Cambodia to remove defamation from the criminal statutes, so the recent move to abolish the jail term is a great result in the campaign for press freedom,” Warren said.
Criminal defamation is an affront to free speech, and the IFJ argues that jailing journalists for defamation is wholly inappropriate as a penalty, as it diminishes journalists’ basic human rights and deprives them of their liberty, their income and their career.
“In light of these recent developments, the IFJ calls on other countries in the region to follow Cambodia’s example, and urges them to uphold the values of freedom of speech by bringing an end to criminal defamation and implementing appropriate checks for civil defamation,” Warren said.
As part its global campaign to decriminalise defamation, the IFJ has called on governments of South East Asia, particularly Thailand, Indonesia, East Timor and the Philippines to follow suit and promote the use of reasonable civil remedies, and remove defamation from their criminal codes altogether.
“As seen by the developments in Cambodia, and recent decisions in Thailand, the region is heading in the right direction, however it is important that we keep up our efforts to ensure that no journalist is ever jailed for performing their duties of reporting information to the public,” Warren said.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries