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Association Notes 17 Threats on Media

The Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists said Wednesday the national media environment was mostly positive, but it noted 17 separate instances where journalists were threatened in 2007.

Cambodian journalists have faced threats from the Ministry of Information on closures and death threats from anonymous callers, among others, the association said.

“First, 2007 saw some progress on legal aspects, because Hun Sen’s government withdrew defamation from the criminal law,” said Samrith Duong Hak, vice-president of the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists. “Second, we see that there are some shortcomings, which are increasing threats, such as the burning down of a reporter’s house in Pursat province, the throwing of an unexploded grenade into a reporter’s house in Svay Rieng province, and some other forms of threat, in which the perpetrators were not found.”

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Wednesday some of the problems stemmed from Cambodian journalists getting involved in affairs outside journalism, “but using the journalistic name.”

The international monitor Freedom House rated Cambodia “not free” in 2007, citing Prime Minister Hun Sen’s “intensified suppression of all criticism” and a government that “does not fully respect freedom of speech.”