September 1, 2011 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Special Khmer Rouge court starts contempt proceedings against VOA

Reporters Without Borders is dismayed to learn that a UN-backed special tribunal that is trying former Khmer Rouge leaders for war crimes has started contempt of court proceedings against Voice of America’s Khmer-language service for allegedly revealing confidential information about a new case against the Khmer Rouge.

“It is shocking to imagine that an international court supported by the United Nations, one that took more than 10 years to set up, could prosecute a news outlet that was just doing its best to cover its work,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We urge the court to abandon these proceedings against Voice of America and to restrict itself to the mandate it received under the accords between the Cambodian government and the United Nations.”

Voice of America Khmer quoted an official court document in an article and a video posted on its website on 10 August that were about the court’s fourth and last case. VOA said the court was currently considering new allegations of mass killings by three Khmer Rouge officials between 1975 and 1979.

The court has issued several warnings in the past to news media and journalists that they could face contempt proceedings if they revealed confidential court information but, according to Agence France-Presse, this is the first time that the court has carried out its threat.

In a statement yesterday, VOA Khmer chief Chris Decherd said: VOA Khmer supports the work of the tribunal and helps to inform the Cambodian public by reporting about the court's work.”

He added: “The role of VOA Khmer is to serve the 14 million citizens of Cambodia by reporting, producing and broadcasting news reports about the world, the US, Asia and Cambodia that are important and relevant to Cambodian citizens, who deserve and are well-served by objective and quality news reporting about issues and topics that impact and affect their daily lives.”