July 18,, 2000
His Excellency Samdech Hun Sen
Prime Minister, Kingdom of Cambodia
Office of the Prime Minister
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
VIA FACSIMILE: +855-23-725-432
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is disturbed by the Information Ministry's decision to once again suspend publication of the Cambodia News Bulletin (Pritbat Pordamean Kampuchea), a bilingual fortnightly published in English and Khmer from the capital city, Phnom Penh.
On July 13, the Information Ministry issued three separate letters ordering the paper's suspension, according to a statement released by the Bulletin. The first, addressed to the Bulletin's editor, Khieu Phirum, announced that the paper was suspended for 30 days because of the July 10 publication of an article on royal succession in Cambodia. According to the Information Ministry's directive, the story, "The Search for One Who Would Be King," allegedly breached Chapter II, Article 7, of Cambodia's constitution, which states that "The King shall be inviolable."
The piece originally appeared on July 1 in the South China Morning Post and was translated from English into Khmer by the Bulletin.
The Information Ministry's letter to Khieu Phirum also accused the Bulletin of violating Article 12 of Cambodia's Press Law--which forbids the publication of "any information which may affect national security and political stability"--and cited the paper for not adhering to the technical publication requirements outlined in Article 9 of the Press Law.
In addition, the Information Ministry sent a letter addressed to the Interior Ministry, ordering the immediate seizure of all copies of the Cambodia News Bulletin. Finally, a third letter was addressed to the paper's printing press and called for a ban on the paper's production.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of press freedom around the world, CPJ objects to your government's censorship of the Cambodia News Bulletin. When the Information Ministry last suspended the Bulletin, on April 4, CPJ wrote Your Excellency noting that if a publication is suspected of violating the law, proper recourse may be sought through Cambodia's judicial system. We believe that the suspension of a publication is a serious matter--and that such a decision should be weighed in a court of law, not made by executive fiat.
CPJ urges Your Excellency to ensure that the suspension order is lifted immediately.
Ann K. Cooper