UN rights experts call on Cambodia to ensure media freedom ahead of vote
© WikiMedia (Dmitry A. Mottl)

UN rights experts call on Cambodia to ensure media freedom ahead of vote

In the days leading up to its July 29 election, experts at the UN Human Rights Council [official website] expressed concerns [press release] Friday over unclear media rules, calling on Cambodian authorities to ensure journalists’ freedom of opinion and expression.

The National Election Committee of Cambodia issued a code of conduct that may be construed to have banned journalists from expressing opinions and from publishing news that affects national security, and they are also barred from conducting Election Day polling station interviews.

The experts said that prohibitions on the media “use broad and imprecise terminology that could lead to sweeping restrictions on the media that would be incompatible with international standards.”

“Journalists have a responsibility to report on many issues in the run-up to an election, in particular controversial issues. Such reporting is an integral part of transparent and responsible media reporting during an election. It helps voters to make informed choices,” the experts said.

In March, at the UN Human Rights Council, 45 nations condemned [JURIST report] the increasingly authoritarian actions taken by the regime in Cambodia, warning against backtracking on progress towards democracy, and in fear of what it would mean for the election in July.