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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Cambodia: ‘Sweeping restrictions’ in new media rules threaten press freedom

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen attends a rally in with garment workers in Kandal province, Cambodia May 30, 2018. Picture taken May 30, 2018. Source: Reuters/Samrang Pring
Cambodia: ‘Sweeping restrictions’ in new media rules threaten press freedom

Asian Correspondent | 15 June 2018

NEW rules for media introduced by the Cambodian government in the lead up to next month’s election could impose sweeping restrictions that prevent journalists reporting on controversial issues, UN rights monitors warned on Friday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, who will be running in the July 29 election without any credible opposition, has mounted a broad campaign against dissent and said this month his administration was watching out for any online news that causes “instability.”
Authorities have also promised to “control news content” while the National Election Committee has issued a code of conduct banning journalists from expressing opinions and from publishing news that affects national security.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which was dissolved by a court last November at the government’s request, has urged voters to boycott the vote.
The UN experts said voting was not compulsory.

“Whatever the nature of the election, all human rights must be respected and ensured. We encourage the Cambodian authorities to ensure that all people are freely able to express their political views and opinions, including on the option of abstaining,” they said.

The CNRP leader is in jail, on what he says is a politically motivated charge, while most of his senior colleagues are in exile, raising concern among aid donors in the West that some 25 years of effort to build democratic institutions have come to nothing.

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