Censorship in Cambodia

On the annual world press freedom index of ‘Reporters Without Borders’ the Southeast Asian countries all rank more or less low. The ‘freest’ countries in this sense are among the European Democracies as Finnland, the Netherlands, Norway and a few others. Cambodia ranks in 2013 on 143 out of 179 listed countries. It dropped compared to 2012 for 26 ranks down.

The Cambodian constitution guarantees the freedom of speech, press freedom, freedom of publication and freedom of assembly. In reality this legislation means little or nothing.

Almost all the Cambodian medias are owned by political parties or persons who are close to a political party – the concentration is clearly in the hands of the ruling Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP). All the eight TV-stations are connected to the CPP. Very few radio broadcasters can be seen as politically neutral. Therefore the information is tinted by the interest of the government. Critical reports are rare, oppositional medias are under pressure and intimidation. Their number shrinked considerably in the years since 2008. Self-censorship happens as a result.

The professional level of journalism is generally on a low level in Cambodia. The tone is frequently very aggressive, insults happen in many cases. In the last ten years there have been about ten journalists killed; foreign observers blame the government for being behind the killings. In none of the cases one of the committers has been hold responsible. In other cases journalists have been arrested.

In a 2009 poll of the human rights organization ‘Licadho’ 52% of the interviewed Cambodian journalists said they have been threatened with physical violence at least for one time.

Governmental influence on the freedom of media are often justified by maintaining the national security and stability, although it is not backed by the Cambodian laws. National security is not precisely defined by the law, though, it seems to be when the government can do what it want, without control or critique.

In June 2013, while the July 28 election campaign was running, foreign broadcasters as ‘Voice of America’ and ‘Radio Free Asia’ were banned to report in Khmer language on campaign matters. This edict was reversed again later after severe protest, particularly from the USA.

It seems now that the internet comes more and more into the focus of governmental surveillance. The internet is a growing power and offers manyfold opportunities to publish critical content. The official justification for controlling the internet is always the ‘public moral’: pornography and games could harm children…

Know…

This is only a part of the illustrated article ‘Cambodia’. Read the whole article on Cambodia by Asienreisender.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

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