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Friday, 19 October 2007

Khmer Amatak Newspaper Suspended

Local newspaper's license suspended [-Details on the suspension of Khmer Amatak newspaper]

The Ministry of Information suspends Khmer Amatak over dispute between the deputy prime minister and an editor Thursday, October 18, 2007

By Debory Li
AsiaMedia Staff Writer

The Cambodian Ministry of Information issued a suspension against Khmer Amatak, a local newspaper, for one month after editor Bun Tha refused to print a correction for an article about the deputy prime minister. According to the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), the article, published on Sept. 24, 2007, alleged that two senior officials of the ruling Funcinpec Party, Deputy Prime Minister Nhiek Bun Chhay and Minister of State Serey Kosal, removed the name of Prince Norodom Ranariddh (pictured), Cambodia's first prime minister and former chairman of the Funcinpec Party, from a school in the Battambang province that he had donated to. The school was renamed, but reports between the Southeast Asian Press Alliance and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) conflict as to whose name it was: Chhay's or Kosal's.Chhay and the Ministry of Information asked the newspaper to print a correction, but Tha refused, saying he had evidence to support the article's claim and was willing to face the deputy prime minister in court to settle the dispute. Instead, the ministry suspended the newspaper on Oct. 8, 2007."If a journalist can prove wrongdoing with hard evidence then it is their duty to report it to the public," said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.The Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ) also expressed its dismay at the ministry's decision."By issuing an order to have this newspaper suspended for a month without the court's consent, the [ministry] has clearly sided with [the deputy prime minister], thus violating…freedom of the press in Cambodia," said CAPJ.Both press rights groups urge the ministry to reverse its decision on the newspaper's suspension and reinstate its license soon.

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