Cambodian journalist Youn Chhiv, owner of the local Koh Kong Hot News website, is serving a one-year sentence on incitement and false news charges over his coverage of a land dispute in the country’s western Koh Kong province.
On September 30, 2021, the Koh Kong Provincial Court convicted Youn Chhiv of incitement to cause a felony for posting disinformation about a land eviction at Botum Sakor National Park and sentenced him to one year in prison, according to news reports. The journalist was also ordered to pay a 2 million riel fine ($490) fine, the reports said.
Deputy Prosecutor Vey Phearom was quoted in reports saying Youn Chhiv had posted comments on Koh Kong Hot News’ Facebook page that caused “confusion” about a September 3 eviction of villagers and demolition of their property by police from the national park’s land.
Koh Kong deputy governor Sok Sothy, who led the police raid in question, filed the complaint against Youn Chhiv, according to news reports. The case was initiated on the order of Defense Minister Tea Banh, a Koh Kong native, Reuters reported.
Youn Chhiv was summoned by Botum Sakor district police for questioning on September 28 and was made to write a letter of apology to Sok Sothy over the Facebook posts, according to a statement by local rights group Licadho. He was arrested on September 29, according to a local report.
The Licadho statement said the case was sent to trial without a judicial investigation on the grounds he was caught in the act of committing a crime. It was not clear if Youn Chhiv planned to appeal the conviction.
CPJ could not confirm in late 2021 where Youn Chhiv was being detained. CPJ’s calls to the Ministry of Justice in Phnom Penh for comment on the journalist’s conviction and detention were not answered.