Saturday, June 14, 2008

Jailed Cambodian publisher appeals for release on bail

By Puy Kea
The jailed publisher of a Cambodian opposition newspaper has appealed for release on bail, saying his detention is not according to law, a journalists' group said Friday. Club of Cambodian Journalists said a five-member delegation made a visit Friday to Dam Sith in Prey Sar Prison, where he has been detained since Sunday after being charged with ''disinformation, defamation and insult'' by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong. ''Through the Club of Cambodian Journalists, Mr. Dam Sith has appealed to Phnom Penh Municipal Court to expedite legal procedures so he can be released soon,'' the Club said in a statement.
In a separate statement released just hours after Dam Sith's arrest Sunday, the CCJ said that according to the press law a lawsuit shall not be filed against a newspaper whenever the newspaper quotes ''politicians, lawmakers or senators.'' Dam Sith, 39, is the publisher of Moneaksekar Khmer and was charged for running an article quoting Sam Rainsy, leader of his self-named opposition party, that allegedly accused Hor Namhong of having been a Khmer Rouge official. Hor Namhong has denied any involvement with the regime during his time as a prisoner at the Boeung Trabek camp in Phnom Penh .
He has successfully sued people in the past after they accused him of Khmer Rouge links. Dam Sith, is also standing as an opposition candidate in next month's parliamentary election. In the wake of his arrest, local and international human rights advocacy groups, in addition to media groups, have expressed concern over the press freedom ahead of Cambodia 's general election set for July 27 and called for his release.
They said the arrest betrays the Cambodian judiciary's ''continued disregard for the civil provisions of the 1995 Press Law.'' The Southeast Asian Press Alliance, a coalition of press advocacy groups from the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, joined the Cambodian groups in calling for Dam Sith's release and urged the government to allow free expression and press freedom.
KyodoJune 13, 2008