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 For all intents and purposes, this law has since been superseded by the 1995 Press Law.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