Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian media under threat: report

Cambodian media under threat: report

A man reads the Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh on its last day of publication after the paper was forced to close over a massive purported tax bill. AFP
A man reads the Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh on its last day of publication after the paper was forced to close over a massive purported tax bill. AFP

Cambodian media under threat: report

Media outlets in Cambodia have come under increasing threat over the past year, according to a new report by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), though the Ministry of Information, responding to a similar recent report, has insisted freedom of expression and the press is guaranteed in the Kingdom.

In its report, titled Cambodia’s Media on Edge and published on Friday, IFJ Asia-Pacific argues that Cambodia’s government has “politicized the country’s courts, restricted freedom of speech, assembly and association, and uses violence and imprisonment to suppress its political opposition, civil society and media”.

The report highlights recent developments like the shuttering of English-language newspaper Cambodia Daily, the closure of Radio Free Asia, the case of the so-called “Adhoc 5” and the forced dissolution of the country’s only viable opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and the imprisonment of its leader Kem Sokha.

The report also illustrates the pressure on reporters in Cambodia by anonymously quoting several local journalists. For example, one journalist is quoted as saying that “It’s very difficult for independent journalists to report on what we call ‘sensitive issues’ like politics, logging or corruption. We now worry if we are seen to be critical of the government or its minister that there will be serious repercussions. All [Cambodian] journalists are under threat.”

A foreign journalist “working at a pro-government news outlet” indicated editorial pressure in an interview with IFJ. “[Editorial independence] has started to disappear, while editorial interference has increased the closer we get to the election.

We’ll put the paper to bed in the evening and in the morning we’ll see that stories have changed – opinion inserted into a news story . . . and the balance taken out,” they said.

Speaking of the closure of Radio Free Asia – which decided to halt its in-country operations after more than a dozen frequencies carrying its content were shuttered – reporters also mention the loss of jobs.

“I’ve been a journalist for nearly two decades and this is the [worst] it’s been for a long time. Journalists who worked for the closed outlets are being denied press cards, some have been brought in for questioning . . . this makes it hard to work without self-censoring. If we can’t work how can we look after our families?”

The reports’ findings were similar to those of a survey released last week by the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM), which found Cambodia’s free press to be in a state of “collapse”. Responding on Friday, the Ministry of Information rejected the CCIM report, calling it a “baseless evaluation”.

The survey, they write, was “conducted on a handful of extremist journalists, with ill intentions to escape legal responsibilities, and put the blame on the Royal Government of Cambodia”.

The statement maintains that freedom of expression is guaranteed in Cambodia and had “brought rapid improvement to all types of media outlets: print, broadcast, and online”.

Representatives of the Information Ministry and CCIM could not be reached yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • NagaWorld protest part of ‘conspiracy’

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court and police held a joint-press conference on January 4 to clarify details concerning the arrest of nine former employees of the integrated resort NagaWorld and the charges brought against them, saying that the authorities had clear grounds for taking legal action.