The Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia has called on law enforcement agencies and provincial courts to apply the Press Law when dealing with complaints filed against journalists.
On May 28, eight journalists from Cambodian People News TV were involved in an argument at the Prek Chak checkpoint with checkpoint chief after he grabbed one of their mobile phones while they were taking footage of trucks transporting cooking oil from Vietnam.
Mr Thol filed a criminal complaint with the Kampot Provincial Court against the journalists, alleging that they obstructed the work of a government official.
A UJFC statement released on Tuesday urged authorities to use the Press Law against the journalists.
“Regarding the lawsuit by the Prek Chak customs officer in Kampot province who sued eight online journalists, the UJFC requests that all relevant parties and law enforcement agencies apply the Press Law,” the statement said, noting that Mr Thol is demanding $100,000 in compensation.
The statement also urged that Mr Thol and the journalists to compromise and drop the complaint.
“The UJFC welcomes both parties coming to a compromise and dropping the complaint,” the statement said. “The UFJC will continue to follow closely the proceedings of the court and the actions taken on this case.”
The statement noted that officials should provide information to journalists when requested to do so.
“Please cooperate by providing journalists with information to jointly promote access to information and the public dissemination of information,” it said.
Yesterday, the Association of Freedom for Cambodia Journalist issued a statement saying that it will monitor the case.
“Please respect the Press Law and apply it on journalists,” it said. “Local authorities should cooperate with journalists and provide truthful information, and avoid insulting journalists.”
Hun Sokha, general director of CPNTV, yesterday said the journalists are waiting to be summoned by the provincial court.
Mr Sokha said that meanwhile, he plans to file a complaint against the customs officials to the Anti-Corruption Unit over irregularities at the checkpoint and a bribe that was offered to the journalists to not publish their story.
“We will discuss this case soon and then we will file a complaint to the Anti-Corruption Unit,” he said, noting that he will not do so until the provincial court has finished its inquiry.
Khann Sophal, spokesman for the provincial court, said the court received Mr Thol’s complaint on Monday, noting that deputy prosecutor Moth Dara is in charge of the case.
“The court sent the case to deputy prosecutor Moth Dara who will continue the process,” Mr Sophal said. “I don’t know yet when he will summon the journalists.”
Mr Dara yesterday said he has yet to receive the case file, but noted that he will issue summonses soon.
“I will review the complaint and I will issue the summonses for those journalists soon,” he said.
Mr Thol could not be reached for comment yesterday.