A Change of Guard

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Friday, 22 April 2016

Cambodia inches up press freedom report

A newspaper vendor lays out the day's issues in Phnom Penh in 2013.
A newspaper vendor lays out the day's issues in Phnom Penh in 2013. Hong Menea

Cambodia inches up press freedom report
Thu, 21 April 2016 ppp
Shaun Turton

Cambodia has moved up 11 positions to rank 128th out of 180 in an annual global ranking of press freedom.

The 2016 analysis, compiled by Reporters Without Borders and released yesterday, is based on questionnaires completed by in-country experts who assess countries by pluralism, media independence and self-censorship and legislative framework along with research by monitors looking at the dangers faced by journalists in each nation.

Cambodia’s score improved by 0.29 points to 40.99, placing it ahead of its neighbours Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, which finished 136th, 173rd, and 175th respectively.

However, Reporters Without Borders still noted issues, including the indirect control and monitoring by Cambodia’s government of media and the dangers faced by reporters when covering sensitive subjects such as logging, illegal fishing, trafficking and other natural resource exploitation.

It also expressed concern about proposed cybercrime legislation as well as the use of defamation charges and accusations that journalists were “damaging the country’s image” to restrict press freedom.

Information Ministry spokesman Ouk Kimseng said that the report focused too narrowly on negatives such as the dangers surrounding reporting on illegal activities. He said overall “freedom of the press is being enjoyed … by most journalists here in Cambodia”.

Finland, again, topped the list, scoring 8.59, followed by the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and New Zealand. China, Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea rounded out the bottom five.

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