A complaint against two Cambodia Daily journalists accused of incitement and violating voter rights by asking questions about Sunday’s commune elections has been rejected by a prosecutor at the Ratanakkiri Provincial Court due to a lack of evidence.
The provincial elections committee, which then reviewed the case, has also decided it will not pursue the matter, saying that it fell outside its jurisdiction.
On Thursday, a complaint was filed to the court against Zsombor Peter, a Canadian associate editor, and Aun Pheap, a Cambodian reporter, over interviews they had conducted as part of the newspaper’s coverage of upcoming elections in O’yadaw district’s Pate commune.
However, deputy prosecutor Hak Huon said on Tuesday that there was not enough evidence to pursue the case.
“We have reviewed the complaint and see that it’s not legally right. It’s kind of describing the activities and there is no evidence to back it up,” Mr. Huon said.
In the complaint dated May 22, Romam Yuot, Pate’s Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) commune chief; villager Sev Born; and one other man named Rocham Yi living in the area accused the reporters of “inciting to support [the] opposition party” and “violating our right of self-determination” while quizzing them on whom people had voted for in 2012. Pate was the only commune in the province to elect an opposition commune chief five years ago.
Pen Chhundy, chief of the provincial election committee, said the case also fell outside the body’s remit as a three-day deadline following the alleged offense had passed.
“We cannot resolve it because the statute of limitation ran out,” he said, adding that he had sent a letter informing the court of this.
A separate complaint—made by the same three men—to the commune election committee last week was earlier dropped.
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith had posted a photograph of Mr. Peter’s passport to his Facebook page, warning journalists to abide by election laws even as it remained unclear how the reporters’ line of questioning may have broken laws.
He later removed the post.
© 2017, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.