A Court of Appeals in Phnom Penh is set to rule on December 30, 2019, on an appeal by Yeang Sothearin and Uon Chhin, two former reporters from Radio Free Asia, to cease a reinvestigation of pornography charges against them. A decision on a second investigation into charges of espionage against the pair remains outstanding, according to the report. An appeal hearing on the espionage investigation is due to be held on January 20, 2020.
The two journalists were initially taken into custody on November 14, 2017, charged with illegally collecting information for a foreign source under Article 445 of Cambodia’s Criminal Code. The two former reporters each face a potential prison term between 7 to 15 years. On August 21, 2018, the former Radio Free Asia reporters were released on bail and placed under judicial supervision. Despite a lack of credible evidence, the court is continuing in its determination to reinvestigate the journalists.
Meanwhile, another two Cambodian reporters, Aun Pheap and Canadian Zsombor Peter, are also facing charges of incitement, after conducting interviews with villagers ahead of a commune election on August 28, 2017. The journalists were working with Cambodia Daily when they conducted the interviews in Pate Commune, in Ratanakiri Province in Cambodia’s northeast. They were scheduled to appear at a trial hearing on December 25, but the trial was delayed due to absence of one judge assigned to the case. A new date is yet to be set.
The IFJ said: “We join the call, together with other civil society organisations, to urge the authorities in Cambodia to drop the charges against these journalists. We also reiterate the demand for the government to take immediate action to cease the harassment, arbitrary detention, threat and intimidation of, as well as discrimination against independent media in Cambodia.”
Read the joint statement here.