Cambodia’s Hun Sen Destroys Last Remnants of Free Press as Elections Approach

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has shown that he has no intention of allowing the national elections scheduled for July 2023 to be free and fair by smashing the country’s last remaining avenues for freedom of information.

The Voice of Democracy (VOD), which published in Khmer and English, on Feb. 13 saw its media license arbitrarily revoked by Hun Sen for simply reporting the words of a government spokesman. An article by VOD stated that Hun Sen’s son Hun Manet had signed an authorization for aid to earthquake-stricken Turkey in his father’s absence.

VOD is run by an NGO, the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM), which has funding from Western embassies, and press freedom groups including Reporters Without Borders and Transparency International. Hun Sen has told them to simply take back their money. The method of the closure shows what passes for governance in Cambodia. There was no semblance of due process or independent review of the article in question. A public demand for an apology by Hun Sen was followed by an announcement on his Facebook page that the license was being withdrawn.

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