Online journalist detained for quoting Cambodian prime minister’s advice on COVID-19

Cambodian journalist Sovann Rithy of the TVFB digital news outlet was arrested on April 7, 2020, for publishing a video report quoting Prime Minister Hun Sen. The report contained Hun Sen’s advice to drivers to sell their motorcycles in order to avoid being bankrupt during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic since the government has no money to help informal workers. The president made the remark while discussing the economic impact of the COVID-19 measures that the government will implement like movement restrictions and reduced business activities.

But the police said the prime minister was joking which means it should not be repeated to avoid causing public confusion. They arrested Rithy under Articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code for “incitement to commit a felony” which includes a prison sentence of six months to two years. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court ordered Rithy to be detained the following day.

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