Committee to Protect Journalists
Country Report: Cambodia
As of December 31, 1998

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Hotly contested elections in July, marred by charges of fraud, led to months of political stalemate. But in November, Prime Minister Hun Sen formed a coalition government that allowed him to consolidate the power he seized in a 1997 coup. And Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) has come to dominate the Khmer-language media. All six national television stations are controlled by the CPP, and 11 pro-Hun Sen radio stations are closely regulated. The sole independent radio station, Sambok Khmum, was closed by the government in September after it broadcast coverage of opposition rallies protesting election irregularities. In January, already tough press regulations were stiffened by decree allowing the government to indefinitely suspend publications on a variety of national security grounds.

The climate for the media in Phnom Penh has worsened; many journalists believe that government surveillance of the press, including wiretapping, is now routine. In October, the pro-Hun Sen Khmer- language newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea (Light of Cambodia) cited government spokesman Khieu Kanharith saying that the government planned to shut down Cambodia's two de facto newspapers of record -- The Cambodia Daily and weekly Phnom Penh Post -- for "serious professional mistakes" in their coverage. These rival English-language papers, owned by U.S. investors, were established in the early 1990s when the United Nations was overseeing attempts to normalize and democratize Cambodia. The threat was publicly rescinded following strong protests by CPJ and the American embassy in Phnom Penh.
Attacks on the Press in Cambodia in 1998
Date Journalist Incident
10/04/98 Cambodia Daily Threatened
10/04/98 Phnom Penh Post Threatened
10/04/98 Joe Cochrane, Deutch Press Agentur Threatened
10/04/98 All Journalists Threatened
06/08/98 Thong Uy Pang, Koh Santepheap (Island of Peace) Attacked
01/11/98 Nou Kim Y, Nokor Khmer Attacked
01/09/98 All media Threatened, Legal Action, Censored
01/08/98 Kumnit Koan Khmer (Thought of Khmer Children) Legal Action, Censored
01/08/98 Andarakum (Intervention) Legal Action, Censored
01/08/98 Neak Torsou (Combatant) Legal Action, Censored
01/08/98 Kolbot Angkor (People of Angkor) Legal Action, Censored
01/08/98 Samleng Samapheap (Voice of Equality) Legal Action, Censored
01/08/98 Proyuth (The Fighter) Legal Action, Censored

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