The Club of Cambodian Journalists expressed its concern over the press freedom and Safety of Mr. Keo Sothea, the publisher Voice of Khmer Youth newspaper after he was charged by the Phnom Penh municipal hall authority for disinformation and he was forced by the Phnom Penh court to pay 2 million riel for his release on bail.
On 28 November 2007, the Phnom Penh court summoned Keo Sothea, the publisher of Voice of Khmer Youth newspaper to be questioned over a disinformation lawsuit filed by the Phnom Penh municipal hall authority after his newspaper published a story â€œ Kep Chutema sold out the Phnom Penh municipal hallâ€ dated 17 July 2007. Based on article 62 of the interim penal code, the Phnom Penh court asked Keo Sothea to pay 2 million riel (approximately USD 500) to be free on bail. This decision means that if Keo Sothea had no money to pay for his release on bail, he should have been arrested by the Cambodian court.
The Club of Cambodian Journalists sees the decision of the Phnom Penh court as unfair and a serious violation of the freedom of expression Â and a barrier on Cambodian democracy. The Club
stronglydemands that the court shall use the law on press regime adopted in 1995, of
which the final article says â€œNo person shall be arrested or put into prison for his or her expression of opinionâ€.
The Club of Cambodian Journalists thinks that the decision of the court is aimed at putting pressure on the publisher because the court used the interim penal code rather than the law on press regime to deal with the lawsuit against the journalist.
The Club will closely monitor the proceeding of the case to ensure that the press freedom is not violated and Keo Sothea will not be arrested for his work as a journalist.
Club of Cambodian Journalists is a neutral and independent non-profit organization whose missions are to promote the press freedom, to protect journalists and professionalize the Cambodian media.
Phnom Penh, 29 November 2007