In February, in a move greeted with widespread criticism, the Cambodian government closed down one of the country’s last remaining independent media outlets, Voice of Democracy (VOD). Commentators describe this as the latest in a series of actions that are weakening democracy in Cambodia. Democracy cannot exist without an independent media, says Dana Green, Chair of the IBA Media Law Committee. ‘The government’s closure of VOD is clearly a violation of basic principles of freedom of the press,’ she says.
VOD, created by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights in 2003 and later run by the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM), was an online media portal that offered coverage, in both English and Khmer, of Cambodian news, politics and human rights.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced via a statement in February that VOD’s licence would be revoked after it published what the country’s leader called an ‘attack’ on himself and his son and heir apparent, Hun Manet, which he believed had damaged the government’s ‘dignity and reputation’.