April 6, 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 deeply disturbed by the Information Ministry's decision to suspend the publication of the Cambodia News Bulletin (Pritbat Pordamean Kampuchea), a bilingual weekly newspaper published in English and Khmer from the capital city, Phnom Penh.
On April 4, the Ministry of Information ordered the weekly to suspend publication for 30 days, for publishing news articles that allegedly defamed "members of the Royal Government," according to a statement released by the paper's editorial board. The statement adds that the ministry's notice did not cite any specific issues or articles in support of its allegations.
That same day, the ministry also notified local printing presses that they are not allowed to print copies of the Cambodia News Bulletin while the suspension is in effect.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of press freedom around the world, CPJ is dismayed by your government's censorship of the Bulletin. While the paper is known for its controversial stories exposing government corruption and mismanagement, that in no way justifies suppressing its publication. If any individual finds a particular article defamatory, then recourse should be sought through Cambodia's judicial system.
CPJ urges Your Excellency to ensure that the suspension order is lifted immediately.
We thank you for your attention to this matter, and await your response.
Ann K. Cooper