Cambodia’s COVID-19 “fake news” crackdown

The Cambodian government has undertaken a recent spate of arrests, charging people with spreading "fake news" regarding COVID-19. Rights groups have expressed concern that this is merely a pretext for a clampdown on political dissent.

For most of us, Facebook is a platform to share stories and ideas with friends and family, that hopefully ends with comments, likes and maybe some shares. For a 14-year-old girl in Kampot’s Kampong Trach district, on March 12, her social media post ended in her arrest.

Sharing her concerns over COVID-19 on Facebook, the girl was worried three classmates had contracted the novel coronavirus and had heard of multiple virus-related deaths in her local province.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) deputy Asia director Phil Robertson, authorities went to her home and arrested her for the social media post. “[It] is completely outrageous and unacceptable,” Robertson told the Globe. “The police who barged into her house and arrested her in front of her family should be eternally ashamed of themselves.”

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