Asia & Pacific

Cambodia: Freedom of press is in great danger

the Cambodian authorities has embarked on what it looks like a massive crack down on freedom of press after two of its prominent journalist are standing a controversial trial.

Aun Pheap, 55, and Zsombor Peter, 41, both award winning journalists living outside Cambodia, found themselves facing the Rattanakiri court for interviewing the residents of the Pate commune before the election and reporting on the story of how the opposition party won the commune in the Rattanakiri province. This seems to have annoyed the ruling party of the Cambodian People’s party, which has been the dominant force of the political life in Cambodia.

Pheap and Peter are facing up to 2 years in jail for “inciting felony” under the Cambodian penal law.

The trial of the two prominent journalists has been going on since 2017. A verdict was about to be announced on December, 25 but has been adjourned.

This latest trial is just the tip of the iceberg of an ongoing onslaught and curb on freedom of the press in the country which took the form of closure of many media outlets  including newspapers and radio stations. Some 32 radio station were pushed out of business because of broadcasting materials critical to the government. Two of the most influential main newspapers were sold of to pro government tycoons.

the 2019 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index has ranked Cambodia 143rd describing the government attack on the media a “pre-emptive war against the media”.

ADF International condemn this attack on the freedom of press and calls on immediate halt of all what could jeopardise the work of independent journalism, respect the human rights treaties and declarations on the subject matter such as the UN Declaration of Human Right which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”.

AFD International is appealing to the international community such as the European Union to cease all forms of trade with the regime in Cambodia including arm trades till it shows that it is no longer harassing or jailing journalists for carrying out their duty.

AFD International

Asia and the Pacific

January 3th 2020

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