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Ministry refutes press freedom report

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith speaks at a meeting in Phnom Penh in January. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Ministry of Information has issued a statement denying a report by the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media which said that press freedom in the country collapsed last year.

In its statement released on Friday, the ministry said that the CCIM report was unfounded because it surveyed a small number of journalists and could not represent the industry as a whole.

“The Ministry of Information flatly refutes the allegations and considers this report as a baseless assessment surveyed from a handful of journalists,” it said

“The news sector in Cambodia is protected and guaranteed by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Law on Media. The Government still supports the promotion of press freedom and continued collaboration by considering all press institutions indispensable partners in a democratic society.”

The CCIM report, which surveyed 75 media workers from 41 institutions, said the closure of some independent radio stations and newspapers, as well as legal threats against journalists, had a chilling effect on media freedom last year.

It showed that just 11 percent of journalists said the sector was moving in the right direction.

About 83 percent said media freedom had decreased over the past year and 38 percent of journalists reported that they were verbally attacked or physically assaulted during their work, while 47 percent said they were threatened in the past.

The report’s recommendations urged the government to provide support to journalists alongside civil society; promote freedom, safety and protection for media workers; expedite the draft law on access to information; amend the law on the media; decrease pressure on journalists and independent media; as well as increase the commitment to protect press freedom in the country.

Information Ministry spokesman Ouk Kimseng said that the report did not reflect the reality of media in Cambodia.

“Those who issued this report are misrepresenting the truth,” he said. “I cannot accept it.”

Mr Kimseng added that the media in Cambodia has full freedoms guaranteed by the law and the Constitution, and noted that Cambodia has nearly 5,000 national and international journalists registered at the ministry and hundreds of press agencies including radio, television, newspapers, magazines and online newspapers.

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