The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the threats made to Cambodian journalists by the Information Ministry on Friday, September 15, 2017. The IFJ calls for the Cambodian Government to end its attack on the independent media.
On Friday, Ouk Kimseng, an information ministry spokesperson, gave a speech, during which he said that while the government would not restrict Radio Free Asia (RFA) from continuing to broadcast from its base in Washington DC, USA, it would no longer be legal for RFA journalists to work in Cambodia. Kimseng went on to claim that RFA had ‘incited’ people against the Cambodia government.
Khieu Sopheak, an interior spokesperson also announced that government officials would no longer respond to interview requests from RFA reporters and would seek to take legal action against RFA journalists if a request was submitted to the information ministry. According to VOA Cambodia Sopheak said: “If the person is found guilty, they will be punished for several months.”
The comments from the government, came after RFA announced on September 12, it would be closing the Cambodia bureau in Phnom Penh after 20 years, due to the government-led crackdown on independent media. In a statement, RFA president, Libby Liu said that: "The government’s relentless crackdown on independent voices in recent weeks has made it impossible to keep the bureau open while guaranteeing the integrity of RFA’s journalistic mission…RFA will keep reporting on the most important and censored issues and events inside the country - and we will continue to broadcast and publish our programs, reports and content on shortwave radio, social media, and on our website. As history has shown, dictators may rise and force their will on nations, but the people will always seek truth in pursuit of freedom."
Press freedom in guaranteed in Cambodia’s constitution. However over the past two months, the Hun Sen government has orchestrated a crackdown on press freedom. On September 5, the Cambodia Daily closed its doors after the government handed them a USD 6.3 million tax bill. In August, Voice of Democracy (VOD), Voice of America (VOA) and RFA were taken off the airways and blocked across Cambodia, with the government claiming they had violated their licenses.
IFJ President Philippe Leruth said: “The systematic crackdown on independent media in Cambodia is a worrying pattern that is creating a culture of fear among the media. Journalists are been threatened with arrests and their employment is no longer secure with media outlets unsure of their future. The Cambodian Government needs to end its attack on independent media, and respect the Constitution, which guarantees press freedom.”
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