Hun Sen Calls for Controls on Online Expression

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Hun Sen speaks at the opening ceremony of the 16th Asia Media Summit in Siem Reap on Wednesday. Image: Facebook

In his keynote address at a U.N.-linked regional media conference, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged tougher legal action against online insults and provocations.

“There needs to be stronger legal enforcement and ethical codes to prevent the broadcasting of: fake news; revenge; insults; the incitement of anger, hatred, discrimination, conflict between nations and regions; and the exaggeration of the truth that causes social insecurity,” Hun Sen said at the opening ceremony of the 16th Asia Media Summit in Siem Reap on on Wednesday.

Each amounted to cybercrimes that threatened individual rights and security both regionally and globally, he said.

The summit’s organizers, the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development, was founded in 1977 with the support of Unesco, the U.N. agency whose mandate includes promoting freedom of expression and press freedom.

Human Rights Watch earlier this week criticized the hosting of the summit in Cambodia after two years of declining media freedom. In 2017, dozens of radio stations carrying independent news were shut down, two reporters jailed over accusations of espionage and the independent Cambodia Daily shuttered over a contested $6.3-million tax bill. The following year, The Phnom Penh Post was sold to a ruling party-linked PR firm amid a similarly controversial tax bill, while a translator involved in a documentary was jailed for alleged incitement.

A month ago for World Press Freedom Day, however, Hun Sen called on journalists to hold a mirror up to officials’ misdeeds and dare to report the truth about the failures of governmental leadership.

May Titthara, executive editor of the government-aligned Khmer Times, told VOD that reporters from some media outlets as well as citizen journalists needed better training about adhering to proper journalistic ethics.

“As we have seen, citizen journalists use Facebook and use it for news and to speak rudely to each other, and if they hate someone or don’t like someone, they strongly criticize them,” Titthara said.

“This severely affects the media sector,” he said. “For media outlets, we need to be clear before we publish. But for them, they just do it straight.”

Reporters Without Borders ranked Cambodia No. 143 among 180 countries for press freedom earlier this year.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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