Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Official refutes press freedom report

Official refutes press freedom report

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Journalists interview the lawyers of former CNRP leader Kem Sokha at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on February 16. Hean Rangsey

Official refutes press freedom report

A senior Ministry of Information official refuted a report released by the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media (CCIM) which claimed that press freedom in Cambodia in 2021 was worse than in 2020.

Ministry spokesman Meas Sophorn said such a report is misleading local and international opinion on media professionalism in Cambodia. He told The Post on March 13 that the report did not take into account or reflect all aspects of the practice of journalism and media professionalism in Cambodia.

“The role of professional journalists and the practice of professional media and broadcasting companies in Cambodia are protected by specific laws which align with the Constitution. With regard to observing these laws, the media – both published and broadcast – have been improving day by day,” he said.

Sophorn’s remarks came in response to a new report released by CCIM and CamboJA on March 10 entitled “Survey Report 2021: Challenges for Independent Media in Cambodia”.

An excerpt from the report said: “With regard to the challenges of independent journalist in 2021, we determined that there was less press freedom in Cambodia than in 2020.”

It said that from January to December 2021, CCIM and CamboJA recorded 51 cases of harassment against 93 journalists, with 32 arrested, 24 facing legal actions and 18 experiencing violence or harassment

“Reporting on sensitive issues is still a grave concern for journalists in Cambodia. The self-censorship among journalists resulting from laws, regulations and the political environment in Cambodia is also a threat to independent media in 2021,” the report said.

The report also highlighted the important role of citizen journalists, who faced similar challenges.

It also listed many recommendations that media or civil society organisations and the government could carry out to improve the situation.

CamboJA executive director Nop Vy said the report shows the challenges that journalists in Cambodia face, both from a legal aspect and in terms of direct threats. He claimed the Criminal Code is still used against journalists. He was also of the view that some other legal tools – such as the National Internet Gateway – are also curtailing press freedom.

He noted some other threats, like news reporting during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen some journalists arrested and some media licences being revoked for reporting the pandemic.

“These challenges require all of us to pay attention – and to respond to and address them – in order to improve the media climate in the Kingdom,” Vy said.

Sophorn disagreed, saying that the media and broadcasting sector in Cambodia is improving remarkably from day to day. Traditional and new media alike are providing quality local and international news.

“The report by CCIM and CamboJA on press freedom in Cambodia clearly has the intention to mislead local and international opinion on media professionalism in Cambodia as well as on the role of journalists in Cambodia,” he said.

He said the alleged threats could not be generalised as an issue of press freedom because they occurred on a case-by-case basis – verbal or physical threats could be just as easily linked to a tense situation which a journalist happened to be covering.

“As we all know, journalists should have full freedom to carry out their work, but when they are reporting on sensitive issue, they occasionally get nervous – especially when reporting on corruption. This nervousness can make a journalist feel like he or she is being threatened,” he said.

He noted that at the end of 2021, there were 787 digital media outlets – an increase of 118 compared to 2020. Traditional media sectors like radio and television also grew. There were around 6,000 local and international journalists in Cambodia.


  • Joy as Koh Ker Temple registered by UNESCO

    Cambodia's Koh Ker Temple archaeological site has been officially added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 17. The ancient temple, also known as Lingapura or Chok Gargyar, is located in

  • Famed US collector family return artefacts to Cambodia

    In the latest repatriation of ancient artefacts from the US, a total of 33 pieces of Khmer cultural heritage will soon return home, according to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. In a September 12 press statement, it said the US Attorney’s Office for the

  • Cambodia set to celebrate Koh Ker UNESCO listing

    To celebrate the inscription of the Koh Ker archaeological site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the Ministry of Cults and Religion has appealed to pagodas and places of worship to celebrate the achievement by ringing bells, shaking rattles and banging gongs on September 20. Venerable

  • Ream base allegations must end, urges official

    A senior government official urges an end to the allegations and suspicions surrounding the development of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, now that Prime Minister Hun Manet has addressed the issue on the floor of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78). Jean-Francois Tain, a geopolitical

  • CP denied registration documents by ministry

    The Ministry of Interior will not reissue registration documents to the Candlelight Party (CP). Following a September 21 meeting between ministry secretary of state Bun Honn and CP representatives, the ministry cited the fact that there is no relevant law which would authorise it to do

  • Manet touches down in Beijing for high-level meetings

    Prime Minister Hun Manet arrived in Beijing on September 14 for his first official visit to China, where he is slated to attend the 20th China-ASEAN Expo and meet other leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping. Upon his arrival, Manet laid a wreath at the Monument