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Cambodia


-  Surface area: 181,035 sq. km
-  Population: 13,104,000
-  Languages: Khmer, French, English, Vietnamese
-  Type of State: unitary monarchy
-  Head of State: Norodom Sihanouk
-  Head of Government: Hun Sen

Cambodia annual report 2002

Press freedom improved again in Cambodia in 2001. But three journalists, accused of complicity with a terrorist organisation, remain in jail even though the government has not proven their guilt.

The absence of any major political tension in 2001 was advantageous for the Cambodian press: Reporters without Borders noted no publications closed this year. However, parties of the governmental coalition still control almost all the country’s television and radio stations, and the main opponent, Sam Rainsy, was again refused a licence for a radio station. To get around these hurdles, Sam Rainsy’s party has been broadcasting a radio programme entitled "The Voice of Justice" from a foreign country since February. Inhabitants of Phnom Penh can also listen to the international radio stations RFI and BBC on FM. Written press remains highly politicised, and attacks among parties, through their newspapers, occur continuously. To improve the quality of the country’s media, several international organisations have focused on training journalists.

A certain amount of tension was caused by the implementation of an international tribunal to judge the Khmer Rouge. Political leaders lashed out at media who accused them of having belonged to Pol Pot’s regime. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hor Nam Hong, won a libel trial against The Cambodia Daily in September after the newspaper mentioned his past as a member of the Khmer Rouge. In 1977, Hor Nam Hong was indeed in charge of the Beng Trabek re-education camp.

Three journalists jailed

Since 24 November 2000, Bun Chanto, a reporter with the opposition newspaper Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Thou Tara, editor with the private weekly Pesakacchun, and Ly Chun Huong, a reporter with the public press agency AKP, have been detained by police. These arrests occurred several hours after an attack on official buildings by militias who claimed to be Cambodian Freedom Fighters. According to the police, who gave very little information about the reasons for their detention, their names were found on a list written by the chief of the militia, Richard Kiri Kim. Thou Tara was arrested near the place of the attack. Bun Chanto was arrested in Pailin (west of the country) and later transferred to the capital. Ly Chun Huong was arrested at his home in Kompong Cham (east of the country). The police had no warrants when they arrested the journalists. A court in Phnom Penh charged them and some forty other suspects with "terrorism and involvement in an illegal armed group". Lach Samrong, publisher of the newspaper Sathearanak Mateak, was also accused of complicity with the terrorists, and he took refuge in Thailand for a year before returning to Phnom Phen. Following an intervention by Reporters without Borders, the Minister of Information announced that Ly Chun Huong could soon be released on bail. But, as of 1 January 2002, the authorities have made no initiatives in his favour.



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see also
Introduction
Annual report 2002

Hard times for press freedom
Africa annual report 2002
Americas annual report 2002
Europe annual report 2002
Maghreb / Middle-East annual report 2002