Politics, fear, money control media: Licadho
Sunday, 04 May 2008 , Written by « Sam Campbell »   
The media’s pursuit of truth is undermined by political bias and corruption, and fear is a fact of life for many Cambodian journalists, claims a new Licadho report on the Kingdom’s media sector to mark World Press Freedom Day May 3.


The damning report found that reports of a free press without censorship are confounded by what journalists and editors describe as “a media closely controlled by politics, money and fear.”


Partisanship and a pervasive culture of corruption fosters an environment where self-censorship is rife, driven by both greed and fear, the report said. “The result is news coverage weighted heavily in favor of those who can pay, namely the government and the CPP,” Licadho claimed.


A new survey of 150 journalists shows 65 percent fear physical attack, 62 percent fear legal action and 54 percent have already been threatened. At least nine journalists are believed to have been murdered because of their work since 1993, the report said, though none of the killers has been brought to justice, “a powerful message of impunity for those who target journalists.”


Many others have been the victims of beatings, failed assassination attempts, mob justice or grenade attacks.


Legal attacks are also a tool of intimidation, the report found.


Complainants often choose to ignore the Press Law in favor of a lawsuit under the Criminal Code, which includes the offenses of defamation or libel, disinformation and incitement.


Licadho recommended that the Press Law be amended “to provide redress for defamatory or false publication of information,” along with changed to legislation that would ensure a free and fair media.


Licadho also urged that cased of intimidation and abuse should be investigated.


Publishers “should pay a livable salary to their reporters and editors,” and encourage staff to adhere to a code of ethics. Journalism training programs should be expanded to include “business skills, in cluding marketing, subscription and advertising sales skills” for senior management, said the report.


Extracted from:

-The Mekong Times , Monday, May 5, 2008 Issue No 60.

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