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Groups Concerned Over Potential Media Gag During Elections

Cambodian's opposition party supporters gather during their party continuing of its mass demonstration at Democracy Square, in Phnom Penh, file photo.

A coalition of local rights and democracy groups says it is concerned over potential election reforms that will ban them from talking to media outlets during election periods.

“The introduction of such measures would only serve to stifle public debate, impair citizens’ constitutional right to participate actively in the political life of the nation, and undermine civil society’s legitimate role in holding public authorities to account,” nine groups said in a joint statement.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party and opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party are currently discussing electoral reforms, including campaign regulations.

Rescue Party lawmaker Kouy Bun Rouen said while the parties respect free speech, they do not want to allow outside groups to “insult” parties during elections.

“If you insult, it means you’ve abused the Cambodian constitution,” he said.