Open Letter to Call for Charge Drop Against former RFA journalists

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 Open Letter to Call for Charge Drop Against former RFA journalists

 We, Cambodian journalists from various media outlets, are writing this open letter to ask all levels of courts to consider dropping charges against two Radio Free Asia journalists, Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, who were arrested on November 14.

On November 18, they were charged with “providing information that is destructive to national defence to a foreign state” which can carry a prison term of up to 15 years.

It is three months already that they have been imprisoned. In December, the Appeal Court upheld their pre-trial detention and their defence lawyer has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.

We would like to express our deep concerns in the letter, signed with thumbprints, that the charge against two RFA journalists is very severe. In a democracy, the press plays a significant role in disseminating the truth to citizens. Journalists also play a key role in reporting facts to the public. 

The charges bring fear to Cambodian journalists and put freedom under threats. Press freedom is guaranteed by the Cambodian constitution, which stipulates that Khmer citizens shall have the freedom to express their personal opinions, the freedom of the press, of publication and of assembly. This is also echoed by 1995 Law on the Press.

As stated in article 10 of the Law on the Press, if following a complaint by a plaintiff in a civil action the court finds that a publication is false, the court may order the press to publish a retraction and/or to pay compensation.

Cambodian journalists have adhered to article 5 of the press law, stating that the press has the right of access to information in government-held records, except for any information which causes harm to national security and harm to relations with other countries.

 Therefore, we as the journalists would like to respectfully ask the courts to consider dropping the charge.

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