On World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, an Appeal Was Made Not to Restrict the Freedom of Expression of Cambodian Journalists – Tuesday, 4.5.2010

Posted on 5 May 2010. Filed under: Week 663 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 663

“At least 11 journalists are reported to have been killed unjustly [since 1992 in Cambodia], and the perpetrators who killed them were not convicted according to the law. On the World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2010, journalists and civil society organizations in Cambodia appealed for the elimination of restrictions on the freedom of expression of Cambodian journalists, which until now result in suffering just because they write and express their opinions.

“Cambodian Journalists met to celebrate the World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2010 to assess the situation of journalists in the previous year, and to point to various difficulties they are encountering in Cambodia. The most noticeable issue is the creation of new Penal Code, where observers and especially legal experts consider that it contains several points which may newly define crimes of journalists.

“The president of the Press Council of Cambodia, which has 15 major press associations as members, Mr. Sok Sovann, said that the World Press Freedom Day is an occasion where Cambodian journalists can gather to commemorate national and international journalists who lost their lives, were arrested, or are jailed because of their work as journalists. Mr. Sok Sovann added that the Press Council of Cambodia used 3 May 2010 as the date to inaugurate its headquarters, and there will be a commemoration for the Japanese journalist who recently was killed in Siam [Thailand]. Also, there will be a celebration for the creation of a memorial monument to commemorate former leading journalists.

“The Director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Research, Mr. Moeun Chhean Narith, monitored the progress of the press in Cambodia and noticed that the freedom of expression in Cambodia in 2009 dropped, compared to 2008. He added that some journalists were arrested and some were intimidated while they were covering events.

“Also, Reporters without Borders issued a report in February 2010, saying that freedom of expression in Cambodia remains difficult, as many journalists had to face accusations at courts, and some others are in detention or in prison. Fulfilling the work of a journalist in Cambodia is difficult due to the restrictions on press freedom.

“High ranking officials of the Sam Rainsy Party noticed that the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression in Cambodia were restricted, narrowing the space of democracy. It is recalled that journalists with a tendency towards the opposition party had frequently received threats. Even the parliamentarian Sam Rainsy had the expression of his ideas restricted during the sessions of the National Assembly, making some parliamentarians to wear masks as a sign of the restriction of the freedom of expression.

“Also the Cambodian Center for Human Rights released a statement for immediate publication, saying that the International Press Freedom Day is celebrated this year to mark the downturn of press freedom in Cambodia. Since Cambodia has practiced democracy since 1992, at least 11 journalists and those working related to journalism who criticized the Cambodian government are reported to have been murdered.

“The statement continues to say that at present, journalists and those working related to journalism are challenged with mistreatments through accusations embedded with politics and criticism. This violates the fundamental rights for expressing ideas as guaranteed in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which are included in and protected by Article 31 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

“The statement adds that the overuse of laws to intimidate and to suppress the media through torture, criminal charges, and mistreatment, blocks the open development of journalism in Cambodia and forces journalists to use self-censorship when expressing their opinions, so that they do not irritate the rich and the powerful. The Cambodian Center for Human Rights asked the government to promote and to protect press freedom and the freedom of expression in Cambodia.

“The Cambodian Center for Human Rights supports journalists, as some have faced mistreatment, violence, and intimidation when they received complaints for trying to report truth, justice, and responsibility, and the report praised journalists who had sacrificed their lives, struggling to promote the basic principles of the freedom of expression and of democracy.

“The names of the 11 murdered journalists are given by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights as

  1. Mr. Thou Thormongkol murdered on 11 June 1994
  2. Mr. Non Chan murdered on 7 September 1994
  3. Mr. Chan Dara on 8 December 1994
  4. Mr. Thun Bunly on 18 May 1996
  5. Mr. Chet Duongdara on 30 March 1997
  6. Mr. Pich Em on 4 May 1997
  7. Mr. Michael Sokhan Sinea on 7 July 1997
  8. Mr. Ou Saroeun on 15 October 1997
  9. Mr. Chour Chetharith on 18 October 2003
  10. Mr. Pov Sam Ath on 26 April 2007
  11. Mr. Khim Sambou on 11 July 2008

“The Ministry of Information of Cambodia published in its 2009 report that in Cambodia there are 385 newspapers, 50 newsletters, 172 magazines, 21 journalists associations, and several radio and television stations. Frequently, the Minister of Information called on journalists to closely adhere to their journalistic and moral codes, so that they can avoid complaints and mistreatment.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3868-3969, 3-4.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #466-468, 1-4.5.2010

  • The Attempt to Present the Film “Who Killed Chea Vichea” [killed in 2004 – the head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Failed [as the police took the projection screen away – as there was no permission given by the Phnom Penh municipality]
  • China Announced to Provide Aid of Yuan 100 Million [approx. US$15 Million; plus 257 new military trucks and 50,000 soldiers’ uniforms] to Cambodia, and Continues to Support Cambodia
  • The Resulting Omen from the Royal Ploughing Ceremony: Corn Will Provide Good Yields, and Beans Offer Fairly Good Yields [there is no prediction about paddy rice yield, as the royal oxen ate little paddy rice]
  • One Day Before the International Labor Day, the Director and Staff of the Deum Ampil News Center Received a Letter with Death Threats from an Anonymous Sender

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2237-2239, 1-4.5.2010

  • Within One Year [from 3 April 2009 to 3 April 2010], Twenty Four Journalists Were Arrested [compared to the corresponding period in the previous year, when there were only two] and There Were Ten Complaints against Journalists [according to the Club of Cambodian Journalists]
  • Every Year Cambodia Imports Fruits from Thailand Amounting to About Baht 1 Billion [approx. US$31 Million]
  • [Minister of Information] Khieu Kanharith: The Opposition Party Still Uses Chea Vichea for Political Gain [as it implies that the government was behind his murder]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #271, 3.5.2010

  • Most Wood Traders Are Oknhas – Is It Therefore that [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Does Not Dare to Bring Them to Court?

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #644-646, 1-4.5.2010

  • The Right to Know Remains a Problem, if the Government Is Not Open to Support Press Freedom [according to the Club of Cambodian Journalists]
  • Chea Vichea’s Daughter, Chea Vichita, Asked Her Mom, ‘Why Was Dad Murdered while He Did Such Good Things?’

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6944-6946, 1-4.5.2010

  • The Government Starts to Conduct a New Census on Civil Servants to Control Their Real Number
  • An Anti-Drug Police Colonel Is under Arrest for Drug Smuggling [Phnom Penh]
  • While Gold Sellers Were Preparing Themselves in the Morning to Travel from Their Home to the Market, They Were Robed by [three] Robbers Who Took Away Jewelry Worth More Than US$100,000 [Battambang]
  • [The Mega] Night Club Was Raided by Police at Midnight, Arresting 109 Men and Women [Phnom Penh]
  • Seven Died and Thirteen Others Were Injured in a Traffic Accident When a Car Hit Cows Crossing the Road [Sihanoukville]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3868-3969, 3-4.5.2010

  • On World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, an Appeal Was Made Not to Restrict the Freedom of Expression of Cambodian Journalists

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #162-163, 3-4.5.2010

  • China Promised to Support Cambodia in the Fields of Military, Investments, and the Economy
  • Cambodia and Japan Will Sign an Oil Exploration Agreement Today [for the Tonle Sap area]
  • [Former Phnom Penh police chief] Heng Pov Claims that there Is Torture in the Prisons
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva: New Elections Can Be Held on 14 November 2010

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5186-5188, 1-4.5.2010

  • On the International Labor Day on 1 May Trade Unions Demanded that their Salaries Should Be Increased, and the Rules for Their Work Conditions Should Be Respected
  • The Prime Minister Called on Institutions Involved to Strengthen the Observation of the Labor Law
  • 10 Out of 1,000 Children in Cambodia Have Heart Diseases [according to Dr. Hav Rathneary, a Cambodia child heart disease expert]
  • The Preah Vihear Court Led Armed Forces to Confiscate More Than 100 Cubic Meters of [illegally cut] Wood
  • The Biggest Fertilizer Companies in Vietnam [PetroVietnam Fertilizer and Chemicals Joint Stock Company] Enter into the Cambodian Market [by establishing an office in Cambodia]

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“Cambodian Officials Need Education About Press Freedom” – Monday, 12.4.2010

Posted on 13 April 2010. Filed under: Week 660 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Because of the Khmer New Year holidays 14 to 16 April 2010, life during this whole week is different; actually, already since Friday last week, music and the voices of people playing special New Year games, and of groups of friends going out together, indicated that the festive season began already.

This affects also publications, and some offices – also the Open Institute – are closed for a week. Our regular publications will therefore start only on Monday, 19 April. But we will supply our readers with some information also during this week.

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 660

Concerned with the situation of journalists in Cambodia, Mr. Moeun Chhean Nariddh, the Director of the Cambodia Institute for Media Studies, Phnom Penh, wrote the following statement, which was published in The Cambodia Daily in the edition of Saturday-Sunday, 10-11 April 2010, from which we quote:

“As media professionals, we are very disappointed at the continued use of the court by Cambodian officials to sue journalists for defamation and disinformation.

“The recent lawsuits respectively brought by police officers in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey provinces against Koh Santepheap newspaper reporters have indicated officials’ lack of understanding of the press freedom enshrined in the Cambodian Constitution.

Article 31 of the Constitution states: ‘The Kingdom of Cambodia shall recognize and respect human rights as stipulated in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the covenants and conventions related to human rights, women’s and children’s rights…’

Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly says: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’

“Similarly, Article 19 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:

  1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
  2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; the right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art or through any other media of choice.

“To assert Cambodia’s obligation under these international treaties, Cambodia adopted the Khmer Press Law in 1995.

Article 4 of the Press Law states: ‘Publication of official information such as statements, meetings, meeting minutes or reports etc. may not be penalized if such publication is fully true or an accurate summary of the truth.’

“This is what the reporter in Siem Reap did by quoting a police officer’s report for his story.

“It’s sad that the two reporters in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey have been arrested and may face criminal charges of defamation and disinformation, though Article 20 of the Press Law says: ‘…No person shall be arrested or subject to criminal charges as a result of expression of opinion.’

“Of course, journalists may make innocent mistakes in doing their professional work to meet the public’s right to know.

“However, courts need to find two sets of evidence to find journalists guilty of defamation or disinformation.

  • “First, it needs to prove that an article reported is false and defamatory due to a journalist’s negligence or lack of information.
  • “Second, the court must show that the journalist has produced the defamatory article out of his or her malicious intent.

Yet, most journalists are just fulfilling their professional obligation to keep the public informed of what happened, whether it is good or bad news. They do not intend to harm anybody’s reputation though some stories turn out to be false.

“Meanwhile, journalists are bound by the professional code of ethics to balance their reporting as far as a controversial story is concerned.

. . .

“In a separate but related lawsuit, we highly commend the Takeo Provincial Court for acquitting a reporter of Radio Free Asia of criminal defamation and disinformation.

“We hope that the Siem Reap Court officials will follow this good example. We also hope that the Cambodian officials will study journalist’s rights and freedoms enshrined in the laws before another similar lawsuit is brought against another media professional.”

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Friday, 18.7.2008: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia Issued a Statement to Address the Impunity of Murderers and Attempts to Murder Journalists

Posted on 19 July 2008. Filed under: Week 569 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 569

“On 16 July 2008, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [OHCHR] in Cambodia issued an official statement with the title ‘The Murder of Khim Sambo, a Journalist of Moneaksekar Khmer, and of His Son’ on 11 July 2008. This statement has raised, in many paragraphs, the issues of press freedom, and of impunity for criminals. It started by sharing sadness as follows:

“The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia expresses its concerns and sadness about the murder of Mr. Khim Sambo and of his son, Khat Sarinpheata, on 11 July 2008 in the center of Phnom Penh. The OHCHR would like to share sad condolences with the family, friends, and colleges of the victims, and would like to join with others to express our sadness about their death with all who mourn together.

“While it is too early to decide whether his murder is related to articles that he had written, there is a certain context, raising the suspicion that ‘His work might be a reason for his murder.’

“Mr. Khim Sambo was an experienced journalist working with Moneaksekar Khmer which is oriented towards the Sam Rainsy Party, which is in the opposition.

“OHCHR stressed the following in the statement:

“By not thinking about the reasons for this murder, one could not influence the public view that causes fear of politics among the citizens and in their feelings. Therefore, it is very important that the authorities of the government investigate this case soon, fully, and dependably, and bring the criminals to be sentenced to the court, to resolve all doubts about this murder. Such action would be an assurance, better than anything else in the context of impunity, which still continues for the murderers of journalists in the past, with the impression that criminals are above the law, and journalists are not protected.

“The murder on a journalist is a denial of the basic right of the freedom of expression. A murder during the parliamentary election campaign towards the 27 July 2008 throws a shadow on the election campaign, where there had not yet been any serious violations so far, compared to previous elections. This murder not only destroyed the victim’s family, friends, and colleges, but it also destroyed newspapers, the journalists’ community, rights and freedoms of expression, and it destroyed as well the possibility of a proper participation by opposition parties in Cambodia.

“The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia recently noticed that violations against journalists had decreased significantly, compared to the 1990ies. More disputes with journalists are now solved by the courts, but regrettably, activities from criminals still continue stronger than the use of civil courts actions against destructive activities. This murder causes fear that journalists become shooting targets for murderers again.

“It is indispensable to secure the right to freedom of expression, based on the Constitution, where the authorities protect the journalists from violence; but defamation cases have been approached through criminal lawsuits rather than through civil court actions. The freedom of expression for anyone, to be used peacefully and freely, contributes to publicly discuss concerns in society – this is a key condition to develop a democratic environment.

“The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia is ready to cooperate with the Ministry of Information and other relevant institutions as well as with other concerned people to find what should be done to strengthen, to promote, and to protect the peaceful implementation of the rights of the freedom of expression and of press freedom, that are recognized by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

“Information background: Impunity – murders and attempt of murders of journalists in the past:

“The murder of Mr. Khim Sambo is similar to eight other murders and attempts of murder of journalists in Cambodia since 1994 – in all cases the criminals still continue to live happily with impunity. Those cases are:

“Mr. Nuon Chan, editor-in-chief of Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, was shot dead by two people riding on a motorcycle in Phnom Penh on 7 September 1994.

“Mr. Sao Chandara, a journalist of Koh Santepheap, was shot dead on 8 December 1994 in Kompong Cham. A military official was sued, but not sentenced, and he was free from any punishment. The Appeals Court decided to file an appeal against this decision to absolve him from punishment, but the appeal was not filed at the Supreme Court.

“Mr. Ek Mongkol, a reporter of Radio FM 90 MHz, was shot with many bullets while he was driving along a road in the center of Phnom Penh on 21 October 1995. He survived the shooting.

“Mr. Thun Bunly, editor-in-chief of Udom Katte Khmer was shot dead by two people ridding on a motorcycle in Phnom Penh on 18 May 1996. Half an hour before he was murdered, he told a friend that he was worried about his safety. In 1995, he had been accused and sentenced twice on accusations of publishing many articles criticizing the Royal Government.

“Mr. Leng Sam Ang, editor-in-chief of Kumnit Koun Khmer, was hit and shot by police on 2 January 1997. He survived the attack.

“Mr. Michael Senior, a freelance photographer who was originally Khmer, was shot dead by soldiers when he attempted to take pictures of many soldiers who were stealing goods in a market in Phnom Penh on 8 July 1997.

Additional Background Information

Tragedy in Cambodia hits home – A 23-year-old Canadian was among those killed in last months fighting in Cambodia

PORT MOODY, British Columbia/Canada — Cambodia’s tragedy was brought home when a 23-year-old Cambodian, adopted and raised by a Port Moody couple, was killed July 8 1997. Michael Senior ran afoul of rampaging soldiers in Phnom Penh.

A memorial service was held 12 July 1997 at Peter and Judy Seniors’ place of worship, Hillside Community Church in Coquitlam, when family members spoke about Michael and several representatives of the Cambodian community shared their thoughts about the crisis in Cambodia.

“Michael had just gone out of his apartment,” explains his father. “He had a still camera. He saw some soldiers looting stores, and started taking pictures. One of the soldiers shot him in the leg.

“His wife heard the shot, and came out. He was speaking in Cambodian, telling the soldiers he was sorry for taking the pictures. He and his wife started begging for mercy. The soldiers shot him in front of his wife, and she had to run for her life.”

“We had her flown out of there the next day,” says Judy Senior. Srey-Pov Senior and her daughter Nina, nine months, arrived in Canada soon afterward and met Michael’s parents for the first time. The family attended a Cambodian memorial service 26 July 1997 at Fraserview Alliance Church in Vancouver. “It would be dangerous for Srey-Pov to go back,” Judy says. “We’re hoping she’ll be able to stay in Canada.”

“Mr. Thong Uy Pang, editor-in-chief of Koh Santepheap was shot in Phnom Penh on 8 June 1998, but he survived the injury. Last year two grenades were thrown into this newspaper’s office.

“Mr. Chuo Chetharith, reporter of Radio Ta Prum was shot dead when he arrived at his workplace, by two people riding on a motorcycle, on 18 October 2003.

“Meanwhile, three other journalists died from violence, cases that have not been solved – Mr. Tou Chhom Mongkol, editor-in-chief of Antarakum died on 11 June 1994; Mr. Pich Em, technician of National Television of Cambodia in Sihanoukville, died on 5 May 1997; and Mr. Ou Sareoun, a journalist of Samleng Reas Khmer was also killed.

“The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Charge of Human Rights in Cambodia agreed with analysts that impunity is the one major barrier which destroys the rule of law in Cambodia. In most cases when journalists were shot dead, the authorities always said that investigations are being continued, or are not yet finished, or have achieved little results. As a consequence – according to the OHCHR, no criminals have been brought to court to be punished for these crimes.” Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3362, 18.7.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 18 July 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1696, 18.7.2008

  • Cambodia and Thailand Wait for a Result of Negotiations on 21 July 2008
  • Konrad Adenauer Foundation Was Asked to Continue to Help Cambodia [it uses Khmer human resources for 90% of its work to develop the country; this request was made during a meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Mr. Wolfgang Meyer, representative of the organization, finishing his mission in Cambodia]
  • Korea International Cooperation Agency – KOICA – Helps to Construct More than 14 km of a Road in Chea Lea and Sambour Communes, Batheay District [Kompong Cham]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #201, 18.7.2008

  • Khmer Soldiers from Two Regions [Battambang and Siem Reap] Are Sent to the Disputed Area; More Thai Para Soldiers Are Also Added


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #52, 18.7.2008

  • Nearly 500 Thai Soldiers Continued to Come into Khmer Land at the Preah Vihear Temple Region
  • Civil Society Organizations Call to Stop Violence during Election Campaign
  • Export of Garments Increase in 2008 [according to Mr. Mean Sophea from the Garment Export Department of the Ministry of Commerce, there is a 5% increase during the period of six months in 2008, and it will continue to rise up to 10% by the end of this year]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6400, 18.7.2008

  • [Khmer] Fishery Official Was Shot Dead [by Vietnamese navy] and Another Official Has Been Arrested in [the Khmer] Sea when They Stopped an [illegal] Yuon [Vietnamese] Fishing Boat [then the Vietnamese navy intervened there was shooting – 17 July 2008 – Kampot]
  • Thailand Continues Increasing Troops; Thai Protesters Who Tried to March to the Preah Vihear Temple Were Blocked by [Thai] Pro-Government Personnel [17 July 2008 – Sisaket Province]
  • [14-year-old] Girl Disappeared, Five Days Later Her Body Was Found in the Jungle; She Had Been Raped and Killed by Breaking Her Neck [Kompong Cham]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3515, 18.7.2008

  • If the Accused Can Talk to Each Other in Detention, It Might Affect the Investigation at the Khmer Rough Tribunal [but a co-lawyer of the former Khmer Rouge leader Mr. Nuon Chea, Mr. Son Arun, said recently that if the court would allow the five accused to sit and talk to each other two or three times per week, it might improve their health and help to release their stress and their hopelessness, so that this special court might finish the process with more success]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4644, 18.7.2008

  • Thailand Still Builds Up Its Troops at the Border; [Thai Prime Minister] Samak: The Three Thai People [who entered Cambodia] Are Provokers; the Thai Army Commander-in-Chief [Anupong Paochinda] Orders Troops to Come Close to Borders; Thailand Mine Action Center [TMAC] Clears Mines Unilaterally
  • Cambodian Prime Minister [Hun Sen] Asked Thai Prime Minister [Samak Sundaravej] to Withdraw Troops from the Region at a Khmer Pagoda [through a letter dated on 17 July 2008]
  • MIG Masters Investment Group Co., Ltd [a Chinese company] Plans to Invest in Public Bus Transportation Sector in Phnom Penh


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3362, 18.7.2008

  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia Issued a Statement to Address the Impunity of Murderers and Attempts to Murder Journalists

Have a look at the last editorial – The struggle towards openness and access to information happens in many places – and it may help to mutually learn from other experiences.

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