PHNOM PENH - Phnom Penh authorities have ordered 12 newspaper kiosks to leave a major road in the capital, saying they need them to relocate for 12 months for construction but giving them no other place to go.
Owners of the kiosks, which are popular in the sale of papers around the capital, said the order would mean the end of their business, and journalism advocates say the closure will mean less access to information.
“I think it will be permanent,” said Hok Bunnath, president of the Newspaper Distributors Association. She called the order an “eviction.”
The order comes on the heels of several measures that shrink Cambodia’s already thin information environment. Earlier this month, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications ordered the closure of any Internet cafe within 500 meters of a school. And in September, the Phnom Penh court ordered independent radio owner Mam Sonando to 20 years in prison, for allegedly helping foment a secessionist movement in Kratie province.
A spokesman for City Hall said the newspaper vendors could request a new site from which to sell their papers.
Pen Samithi, president of the Cambodian Club of Journalists, said the 12-month period was a “critically long” time that could put the 12 stands out of business. The closure “impacts access to information,” he said. “In Cambodia, besides radio and TV, newspapers play a key role in news distribution.”