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Ministry defends newspaper closures

The Ministry of Information yesterday defended its closure of nearly 50 Khmer-language newspapers and magazines last month and said it was still considering shutting down additional outlets that hold expired licences.

On September 20, the Ministry announced the closure of 46 Khmer language newspapers, magazines and other publications, with 16 additional outlets under consideration for the same fate.

Yem Noy, director of the Ministry of Information’s Media Centre Department, defended the ministry’s decision yesterday against criticism that the move represented an attack on freedom of the press.

“This shutdown has nothing to do with freedom of the press. The licences were cancelled due to inactivity,” he said.

Yem Noy said that all of the publications involved in the closures had not operated for the past decade and lacked a proper address.

“After our investigation, we found that the newspapers and magazines in question had not been publishing, despite being licensed by the Ministry of Information,” he said.

The ministry would reconsider its decision, Yem Noy added, if publishers made a request to renew their licences.

Ek Visarakhun, secretary general of the Press Council of Cambodia, said that he had not yet received any complaints from affected publishers, but that the ministry should have notified them that they were in danger of being shutdown.

“Closing a newspaper without informing the individual publisher in advance is a violation of the principle of freedom of the press,” he said.

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