UN Concerned About Recent Media Pressures

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Thursday expressed “concern” that the government has increased pressure against foreign and local media since the July 26 polls.

Since the election, the government has shut down one radio station, Beehive Radio, and suspended one opposition newspaper, Oudom Kati Khmer (Khmer Ideal). Several other opposition papers have been threatened with suspension.

Last week, the pro-CPP Ras­mei Kampuchea newspaper quoted government spokesman Khieu Kanharith as saying that two English-language papers might be shut down and the correspondent for Deutsche Presse-Agen­tur news service might be or­dered to stop working because of alleged irresponsible reporting.

“These actions are serious and have negative implications for press freedoms in Cambodia,” the statement from the UN hu­man rights center said.

The UN statement does not put government actions in context, said Sieng Lapresse, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Information.

“This kind of statement makes it seem that Cambodia doesn’t care about freedom of the press,” Sieng Lapresse said Thursday. “We have a press law here that is a guideline to secure these freedoms. But the statement doesn’t go into any of our reasons.”

The UN statement called on authorities to ensure press freedoms and “refrain from actions” that could put pressure on journalists.

“Responsible journalism is important, but a free press re­mains a cornerstone of genuine democratic societies,” it said.

Last week, Oudom Kati Khmer (Khmer Conscience) and Samleng Youvachun Khmer (Voice of Khmer Youth) newspapers were told they had to present proof for stories they printed alleging the government was still holding monks and demonstrators from September’s protests.

In September, the Ministry of Information closed opposition-leaning Sambok Khmoum (Bee­hive) radio stating the station’s coverage endangered social order. Moneaksekar Khmer was also suspended for 30 days be­cause of an article critical of King Norodom Sihanouk. The suspension was later lifted, Sieng La­presse said.


Related Stories

Latest News