The Ministry of Information has allowed an opposition newspaper to resume publishing after a 20-day suspension, but plans to pursue its court case against it, officials said Thursday.
The court case against Udom Katte Khmer (Khmer Ideal) is still pending despite receiving a formal apology by the paper’s publisher, said Khieu Kanharith, secretary of state for Information.
“It was too late,” Khieu Kanharith said, referring to the apology.
The court is investigating defamation and incitement charges against the newspaper in connection with an Oct 1 article alleging that monks and demonstrators were being detained on a raft.
The ministry suspended the newspaper on Oct 9 after it failed to meet the government’s request for proof of the detentions.
The ministry was also pursuing charges against Samleng Yuvachum Khmer (Voice of Khmer Youth) for a similar article, but on Wednesday dropped the case after the publisher apologized, Khieu Kanharith said.
The ministry’s actions against the press since the July 26th elections drew a letter of concern earlier this month from UN rights envoy Thomas Hammarberg.
The ministry also released a statement Wednesday reminding “editors of all local and international media” of a ministry regulation that says stories “concerning national security and political stability must contain at least two confirmed sources.”
“In case of publishing untrue news either intentionally or unintentionally, the Ministry of Information will take measures in accordance with the law,” the statement signed by Khieu Kanharith said.
Khieu Kanharith said Thursday that he was dissatisfied with reporting in the local press “mostly from the opposition” on a series of skirmishes that broke out in the northwest last week.
In particular, newspapers reported that “thousands of [government] soldiers defected to the other side,” he said. The army reported that about 20 soldiers had defected to the resistance, while military analysts said the number was about 100.
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