2009 LICADHO Report: Cambodia’s Media Continue to be Attacked, Threatened and CensoredCambodia's media is often described as one of the freest in the region, especially relative to the likes of Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos or China where the media is all but controlled by the government1. But the reality is that Cambodia's media still exists in a repressive environment where the government controls the majority of the media. Those that it does not control, it is not afraid to attack, threaten or censor.
The 15 months reviewed in the latest LICADHO briefing paper - from January 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009 - saw a number of cases of defamation lawsuits, repeated censorship, attacks, threats and intimidation.
The period review was crucial politically with the national election held in July 2008. The murder two weeks before the vote of opposition-aligned journalist Khim Sambo was a chilling reminder of the risks Cambodian journalists face for doing their job.
"The continued intimidation of the media through physical attacks, threats, charges of defamation and disinformation and murder ensure the lack of an environment free from political pressures for media to cover sensitive and important issues affecting Cambodians," says Naly Pilorge, Director of LICADHO.
As yet, no one has been arrested for the killing of Khim Sambo, a pattern consistent with the murders of journalists in Cambodia since 1993. In 2008, another journalist fled Cambodia with his family and has since been granted asylum in Norway after receiving death threats for his work for Radio Free Asia (RFA).
Most of the Kingdom's media outlets are aligned to a political party and most favor the Cambodian People's Party (CPP). All eight television channels are aligned with the CPP, as are 11 of the main 22 Khmer-language stations, and 13 of the 24 larger Khmer-language newspapers.
The briefing paper is titled Restrictions on the Freedom of Expression in Cambodia's Media, and is published in celebration of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2009. The briefing paper is an update to LICADHO's previous report on the subject of media restrictions which was published in May 2008 - Reading Between the Lines: How Politics, Money and Fear Control Cambodia's Media.
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Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
LICADHO is a national Cambodian human rights organization. Since its establishment in
1992, LICADHO has been at the forefront of efforts to protect civil and political and economic and social rights in Cambodia and to promote respect for them by the Cambodian government and institutions. Building on its past achievements, LICADHO continues to be an advocate for the Cambodian people and a monitor of the government through wide ranging human rights programs from its main office in Phnom Penh and 12 provincial offices.