Freedom of the Press - Cambodia (2005)
|Publication Date||27 April 2005|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press - Cambodia (2005), 27 April 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4734515223.html [accessed 28 November 2015]|
Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 17
Political Influences: 24
Economic Pressures: 21
Total Score: 62
Life Expectancy: 57
Religious Groups: Theravada Buddhist (95 percent), other (5 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Khmer (90 percent), Vietnamese (5 percent), Chinese (1 percent), other (4 percent)
Capital: Phnom Penh
Freedoms of expression, the press, and publication are provided for in the constitution, and the government publicly professes to support these rights. However, although the press law provides journalists with several safeguards, it also permits the Ministry of Information to suspend newspapers, broadly prohibits the publication of articles that affect national security and political stability, and subjects the press to criminal statutes. In recent years, authorities have used the press law to suspend newspapers for 30-day periods for criticizing the government or monarchy and have limited media access to government facilities. An increasing number of media outlets were charged with defamation during 2004, and two reporters were convicted and ordered to pay fines to the defendants.
Journalists are occasionally beaten, detained, or otherwise harassed by authorities. In July, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that two prominent reporters – English-language Cambodia Daily editor Kevin Doyle and Radio Free Asia stringer Sok Rathavisal – were arrested, detained, and forced to sign confessions that they had engaged in human trafficking before being released two days later. They were arrested while reporting on the situation of the Montagnards, Vietnamese ethnic minority refugees who had sought refuge in Cambodia. This incident illustrates the risks that investigative journalists have to live with in a country with democratic trappings whose tradition and leaders are solidly authoritarian.
Although some journalists practice self-censorship, print media outlets, many of which are aligned with or subsidized by the three main political factions, offer diverse views and provide some criticism of government policies and senior officials. Meanwhile, the broadcast sector remains controlled by the state or ruling party and programming reflects official viewpoints. Independent broadcast outlets' operations are constrained by the refusal to allocate radio and television frequencies to stations that are aligned with the opposition. In addition, the economy is not strong enough to generate sufficient advertising revenues to support truly neutral or independent media. Access to foreign broadcasts and to the Internet is generally unrestricted.