Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Reporters Without Borders ranks Kingdom 143 of 180

Reporters Without Borders ranks Kingdom 143 of 180

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Journalist Lay Samean lies on the road after being beaten by municipal security personnel near Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park in May 2014. Photo supplied

Reporters Without Borders ranks Kingdom 143 of 180

A government official has said that Cambodia dropping one place in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2019 press freedom index did not “reflect the reality” of the media situation in the Kingdom.

Paris-based press freedom monitoring non-governmental organisation RSF published its 2019 World Press Freedom Index – A Cycle of Fear report last Thursday, in which Cambodia fell from 142 of 180 countries last year to 143rd this year.

“Worried by the prospect of losing the July 2018 general elections after more than 30 years in power, Prime Minister Hun Sen launched a pre-emptive war against the media in which around 30 radio stations were silenced and Cambodia Daily, an English-language newspaper that had helped to nurture Cambodia’s fragile democracy, was forced to close.

“As a result of this clean sweep, Cambodians now only have access to news provided by major media groups directly linked to Hun Sen, such as the online news agency Fresh News, which pumps out pro-government propaganda,” the report says in its section on the Kingdom titled Ruling Party Eliminates Critical Media.

Cambodia was last ranked 143rd by RSF in 2013. Its highest position was in 2016 when the Kingdom was placed 128 out of 180. RSF said censorship in Cambodia was the result of “China’s growing influence”.

‘Sounds illogical’

Pen Bona, the president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) and the editor-in-chief of television station PNN, said RSF’s reasoning was nothing new.

“They based their score on the closure of the Cambodia Daily, Radio Free Asia and the change of ownership of The Phnom Penh Post. And they said all of this meant [last year’s] national elections went under-reported; when the elections went under-reported, they dropped the ranking for Cambodia – this sounds illogical,” he said.

Bona said Cambodia had made big progress in terms of press freedom over the past 15 years. Cambodia did not have any reporters killed or injured in wars as had occurred in other countries. However, he said there was still room for journalists to improve themselves professionally.

“What journalists should do is strengthen their professionalism, give value to their job and respect the code of conduct. This will promote freedom of the press in Cambodia. What rank RSF gave us is up to them,” he said.

Ministry of Information spokesman Meas Sophorn said press freedom was respected in Cambodia as part of a multi-party democracy. He added that Prime Minister Hun Sen had promoted press freedom in Cambodia by organising every year a forum with journalists and other members of the media.

“The ranking for Cambodia does not reflect the reality of overall press freedom,” he said.

Ministry of Justice spokesperson Chin Malin said the methodology used by RSF to rank press freedom was questionable.

“They define independent media as that which is critical of the government and supports opposition groups. For media that covers all aspects and is neutral, maybe they don’t call that independent,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Police arrest Canadian with 167kg of drugs

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on November 15 placed a Canadian national in pre-trial detention in connection with smuggling and possessing 167kg of illegal drugs. Deputy National Police chief in charge of anti-drug enforcement Mak Chito told The Post on November 15 that the man was arrested