Police arrested Cambodian journalist Sok Oudom in Kampong Chhnang City on May 13, 2020. He is currently serving a 20-month sentence for disseminating false news with intent to cause incitement.
Oudom is the owner of the local Rithysen 99.75 FM radio station and news website, and frequently reports on land disputes between officials and farming communities, according to news reports and a statement released by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, a local nongovernmental organization.
The incitement charge, defined under Article 495 of the criminal code, stemmed from a May 12, 2020, news broadcast aired on the station about a local land dispute, which authorities alleged incited people to encroach on state-owned land, according to those reports.
On May 12, 2020, after the report was aired, the Information Ministry revoked Rithysen 99.75 FM’s media license for allegedly disseminating news that was “exaggerated,” “contains incitement to violence,” and caused “social insecurity and chaos,” according to the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Voice of America.
On December 22, 2020, the Kampong Chhnang Provincial Court convicted Oudom of broadcasting false news with intent to cause incitement. The court ordered him to be imprisoned for 20 months and to pay a 20 million riel (US$4,915) fine, according to a report by CamboJA, a news website run by the Cambodian Journalists Alliance, a local press freedom group.
Oudom was in the process of appealing his conviction in September 2021, after changing his personal lawyer in mid-2021, according to Him Khortieth, CamboJA’s advocacy and research manager, who communicated with CPJ by email. The journalist was being held in Kampong Chhnag provincial prison in late 2021, Khortieth said.
Cambodia’s Interior Ministry, which oversees the country’s prison system, did not respond to CPJ’s emailed requests for comment about Oudom’s status and health in prison in late 2021.