Journalist's Prison Sentence is a Legacy of Outdated Laws in Cambodia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its local

affiliate, the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ)

in calling for the immediate repeal of a prison sentence against journalist

Hang Chakra.

 

Hang Chakra, the publisher and editor-in-chief of Khmer Machas Srok, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and

fined 9 million Riels (approximately USD 2,250) on charges of ”disinformation”

and ”dishonouring” public officials on June 26, CAPJ reports.

 

The charges related to a series of articles published in Khmer Machas Srok which alleged the involvement of Cambodian

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in corrupt activities.

 

Chakra was charged under an interim law that was instituted by the United

Nations Transitional Authority of Cambodia (UNTAC) set-up by a United Nationis

peacekeeping mission to Cambodia

in 1992-93 to improve the country’s democratic governance. For all intents and

purposes, this law has since been superseded by the 1995 Press Law.

 

According

to CAPJ, both laws characterise the distribution of false information as a

criminal, rather than civil, offence. However, the UNTAC criminal code

prescribes more severe punishment, including imprisonment and higher fines.

 

“The IFJ encourages all journalists to ensure the accuracy of their

information, though any legislation that imprisons journalists for their

professional work reflects a system of governance that is positively inimical

to press freedom and freedom of expression,” said IFJ

Asia-Pacific Director, Jacqueline Park. 

 

“Cambodia’s

Press Law is clearly the most relevant legislation to be used for any judicial

proceedings involving media personnel and their professional work. An

explanation for applying a more stringent criminal code in this case must be

provided”.

 

The IFJ joins CAPJ in calling on the Cambodian Government to

uphold the formal processes laid down in the country’s Press Law as the

applicable legal instrument on media workers’ rights and responsibilities.

 

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide