RFA reporter to file lawsuit

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Sok Ratha claims he was not paid severance. KT/Mai Vireak

A former Radio Free Asia staffer is preparing documents to file a lawsuit in the US against his former employer to seek severance pay after the organisation shuttered its Phnom Penh office in September.

Sok Ratha, a former reporter under the name Ratha Visal, said yesterday that a lawyer is preparing the lawsuit to sue RFA in the near future over its failure to pay severance.

“I’m owed $28,000 based on my seniority, but if we sue, I will also claim compensation, because we know that RFA has not compensated us according to the Labour Law,” he said, noting he worked for RFA for 13 years.

“They only paid the last four months of salary.”

The news broadcaster shut its local office amid a crackdown on media by the government, which saw dozens of radio stations closed and the Cambodia Daily newspaper shuttered after it could not pay a $6 million back tax bill.

RFA said at the time that it was closing its office while under intense pressure from the government.

Mr Ratha, who leaked information about RFA’s closure before it became official, said more than 30 RFA staffers have received proper severance from the station, but he had not.

Huy Vannak, president of the Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia, said a solution must be found that abides to the Labour Law.

“Sok Ratha worked for this institution for a long time, so RFA should not avoid responsibility,” he said.

“I insist on resolving the issue using the Labour Law.”

Rohit Mahajan, director of public affairs and digital strategy for RFA, said the broadcaster does not publicly discuss internal issues with its employees, citing privacy concerns.

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