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Cambodian Court Overlooks Civil Press Law

Cambodian Court Overlooks Civil Press Law in Defamation Case

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is dismayed by a decision of the Phnom Penh Court in Cambodia to overlook the country’s civil Press Law in dealing with a defamation case against freelance journalist Ros Sohket.

According to the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ), an IFJ affiliate, the court applied an outdated law from the interim United Nations Transitional Authority of Cambodia (UNTAC) to sentence Sokhet to two years’ jail for defamation on November 6.

UNTAC was instituted by a United Nations peacekeeping mission to Cambodia in 1992-93 to support the country’s democratic transition.

In 1995, Cambodia’s National Assembly formally adopted Cambodia’s Press Law, under which defamation is to be dealt with as a civil matter.

“Criminal defamation remains a major hurdle in Cambodia’s process of securing press freedom and journalists’ rights,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

“But there are appropriate civil laws in place to resolve media-related disputes, and Cambodia’s Press Law should be applied to assist in the resolution of media-related disputes in all circumstances.”

The IFJ stands in solidarity with CAPJ in calling on Cambodia’s Government to ensure the laws appropriate to defamation do not contain criminal penalties.


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