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Information Ministry repeals newspapers' licences

(CCHR/IFEX) - Phnom Penh, 4 August 2011 - The Cambodian Ministry of Information has rescinded the licenses of two newspapers owned by the same publisher - "The Water and Fire News" and "The World News" - and has ordered the two papers to cease publication. A notice outlining the decision was signed by Minister of Information Khieu Kannharith, and stated that the order was effective as of 3 August 2011.

According to ministry spokesperson Yeam Noy, the order was issued after the failure of both papers to publish any address despite repeated requests by the Ministry that such information be provided, but also as a result of a perceived insult to the Ministry of Information. In an article in "The Cambodia Daily" on 4 August, Mr. Yeam is quoted explaining that the motto of "The Water and Fire News" - "News that doesn't cover outside the 181,035 km square territory" - referring to Cambodia's land area, which was published on the front cover, amounted to an insult to the Ministry of Information, without offering any further explanation.

The two newspapers, according to their director Keo Amnot Sangkhem, are independent of any political party but run articles which are critical of the ruling Cambodian People's Party. In the article in "The Cambodia Daily", Mr. Keo explains that he previously halted publication of "The Water and Fire News" three years ago by his own volition after he was threatened by a government official, following his publication of an article after the death of National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy. Since being notified of the decision to rescind the licenses of the two newspapers, Mr. Keo has written a complaint to the Minister of Information.
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