Journalist summoned for questioning after reporting on bribery


On May 23, a journalist from HPN News in Ratanakiri province was questioned by the provincial court after he published a report about “local authorities taking money from villagers”.
He said the court asked him to prove that his report was true.
On April 11, 2024, HPN News published a report that the authorities at the Virakchey national park in Ratanakiri province’s Andong Meas district took money from villagers in exchange for them to enter the forest to collect fruit.
On April 25, the provincial court issued a summons, ordering the journalist to appear in court on May 23, 2024 to answer questions. He said the summons was not sent to him directly, but disseminated via Telegram channel.
The journalist was accompanied by a lawyer, who was provided by a local NGO, where questioning went on for two hours in the morning.
The journalist said he was asked by the court to produce evidence of the report. He said he showed the court a receipt of 50,000 riel ($12.50) issued by the authorities to the villagers. Based on the receipt, one person was required to pay 50,000 riel to enter the forest.
The journalist said he was also asked by the court to be a co-plaintiff to facilitate investigations in the case.
He viewed the summons as a form of intimidation and a restriction on press freedom.
“Other media outlets also reported this issue, so why only question me? The court should summon the officials for questioning and not take action on journalists.
“If I had published wrong information, I could make corrections, but it was not [wrong information]. I think that this is an intimidation and a restriction on press freedom.”

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CamboJA interviewed with the affected journalist.