Media experts say freedom of expression is on the decline in Cambodia, especially as journalists have recently been detained under criminal disinformation.
Hang Chakra, the publisher of Khmer Mchas Srok newspaper who was detained in 2010, told “Hello VOA” Thursday the paper had been doing well until he was held under criminal disinformation and defamation charges.
“That made me very disappointed, but now I continue with my work and reform that is balanced,” he said. He has again started publishing his paper, which is supportive of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, about a month ago, following more than a year’s absence.
Moeun Chhean Narridh, director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Studies, who was also a guest on “Hello VOA” Thursday, said journalists should not be punished under criminal laws.
“Criminal punishment with imprisonment for a journalist is not equal to the infraction,” he said. “We are not killers murdering someone, and we aren’t robbers.”
Such charges should not carry criminal jail time, he said, especially under a strong press law.
Cambodia is currently ranked as “not free” by the US-based Freedom House, and is ranked 141 of 196 countries by the organization.