Latest Press Freedom Index Says No Gain for Cambodia

Press freedom in Cambodia showed no sign of improving last year, according to the 2015 press freedom index released on Thursday by Reporters Without Borders.

In the annual index, compiled by the Paris-based advocacy group, the less freedom a country’s press exhibits, the higher its rank and absolute score.

Although in 2015 the index ranked Cambodia 139th out of 180 countries surveyed, better than its 144th place ranking the year before, it raised its absolute score by a fraction from 40.97 out of 100 in 2014 to 40.99.

“Cambodia actually registers a degradation of its situation,” explained Benjamin Ismail, head of the Asia-Pacific desk for Reporters Without Borders.

Although at least two journalists were killed last year, Mr. Ismail said the report did not recognize them because Reporters Without Borders was not able to confirm unequivocally that their deaths were directly related to their work as members of the media.

One of the journalists, 49-year-old Taing Try, was shot in the head in October in Kratie province’s Snuol district after newspapers had published a series of his stories on alleged illegal logging activity in the area.

“We do not consider that this murder is 100 percent confirmed to be in relation with his work,” Mr. Ismail said.

He added that the murders of Taing Try and Suon Chan—a 44-year-old reporter killed in Kompong Chhang province in January last year—were still being investigated when Reporters Without Borders began compiling the report.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodia Institute for Media Studies, said that he agreed with the report’s findings, especially since several journalists were injured during the government’s lethal suppression of violent garment worker protests in January 2014.

“The worsened situation of press freedom in Cambodia was compounded by the attacks on journalists at Freedom Park by unruly security guards, including the…beating of [a] Voice of Democracy radio journalist,” he said in a Facebook message.

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