[JURIST] Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen [BBC profile] has called for abolition of the country's criminal defamation law that was used to jail four government critics in January. Hun Sen said the offense should be made a civil one punishable by fine, continuing a softening of his initial support for the prosecutions [JURIST report]. Hun Sen called for the charges to be dropped [JURIST report], but a court refused [JURIST report] to do so, moving ahead with the proceedings.
Rights groups and diplomats have urged Cambodia [JURIST news archive] to make defamation a civil offense instead of the criminal law left over from UN involvement in the country in the early 1990s. Hun Sen has been accused of using the law to quell criticism of his administration. AFP has more.