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Posted by: | Posted on: February 22, 2019

Fresh News and the Future of the Fourth Estate in Cambodia


“The slow eradication of the fourth estate by Hun Sen has left a cabal of state-owned, state-run and state-influenced media outlets. Fresh News is a symptom of that environment. ដំណើរកំចាត់យ៉ាងយឺតៗនៃអំណាចទី៤ដោយលោកហ៊ុន-សែនបានរុញច្រានស្ងាត់ៗនូវបណ្តុំពត៌មានអោយទៅជាកម្មសិទ្ធិរបស់រដ្ឋ ចាត់ចែងដោយរដ្ឋ និងរដ្ឋមានឥទ្ធិពលពីលើ។ ហ្វ្រេសនូសគឺជារោគសញ្ញាផុសឡើងក្នុងបរិដ្ឋាននោះ”

Fresh News and the Future of the Fourth Estate in Cambodia

In the Cambodian government’s ongoing war on the media, a website called Fresh News has become one of the country’s most useful sources of political misinformation and propaganda

When leading Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested shortly after midnight in September 2017, most media outlets were taken by surprise. Only Fresh News, a digital news provider with close ties to the government, was on hand to livestream the chaotic scenes which saw Sokha arrested at his home in an operation involving 100 armed police officers.

The arrest marked the culmination of a months-long smear campaign by Fresh News against Sokha, president of the now dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). Fresh News had linked Sokha to an American-backed conspiracy to overthrow prime minister Hun Sen’s Cambodia People’s Party, which has led the country for more than three decades.

After Sokha was arrested, Fresh News continued its critical coverage with articles like “Why was Kem Sokha arrested? Listen to his confession of treason!” The story contained a link to a 2013 video of Sokha thanking the US for political support and detailing strategies for democratic change. The government claimed Sokha’s comments qualified as a “red-handed” crime, allowing Sokha to be stripped of his parliamentary immunity.

The rise to prominence of Fresh News as a key player in Cambodia’s authoritarian landscape has arrived amidst an unprecedented crackdown on free press and civil society which has reduced the country’s once-robust media to rubble. The fiercely critical Cambodia Daily was shut down in 2017 over a disputed tax bill, publishing its final edition the day of Sokha’s arrest.

Then, last year, Cambodia’s oldest independent newspaper—the Phnom Penh Post—was bought by new owners with close ties to the government, who have enforced strict censorship guidelines. A slew of independent radio stations have also been shuttered, silencing crucial voices and forcing Radio Free Asia to abandon its operations in the country.

The government’s appreciation of the kind of journalism practiced by Fresh News appears to be considerable—Hun Sen has compared Fresh News to news organizations like Reuters.

Throughout the crackdown on traditional media, the digital-first Fresh News has become one of Hun Sen’s most useful instruments with an outsized influence over political misinformation and propaganda. Launched in 2014 with 20 journalists and described as a “bludgeon” by then-independent newspaper the Phnom Penh Post, Fresh News is now the country’s third most visited local site and has led the war against critics of the Cambodian government by spreading unfounded conspiracy theories, leaking private phone calls between opposition politicians, and even helping to give shape to anti-democratic policies.

The media organization, which now employs 200 people across its online, television, radio, Facebook and YouTube platforms, is regularly granted exclusive interviews with high-ranking government officials, including Hun Sen, who almost never give interviews to other outlets. In Khmer, English, and Chinese, Fresh News has become the state’s third arm in an ongoing campaign of media repression.

The government’s appreciation of the kind of journalism practiced by Fresh News appears to be considerable—Hun Sen has compared Fresh News to news organizations like Reuters. “Fresh News now is not only being watched in the country but also abroad, and we also have a quick information system that is no worse than AFP, UPI, AP or Reuters,” he said in a speech in September 2017, days after Sokha’s arrest.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan told the Phnom Penh Post that Fresh News is “a space for the government to share the news”, and said that the platform receives its information directly from government sources.

The success of Fresh News can also be viewed in the light of criticism of investigative journalism in a number of other countries across the world. Just as President Donald Trump has described CNN as “fake news” while giving access to broadcasters like Fox News, and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has called news website Rappler Inc. a “fake news outlet”, Hun Sen has asked local and international journalists to tackle “fake news” under the pretext of preserving national security. “Even the countries that claim to respect freedom of speech are concerned about cybercrimes,” he said recently. “Some countries which are regarded as [fathers of democracy] have laws to prevent and punish fake news [perpetrators].”

Exclusives and Leaks

Pro-government since its launch, Fresh News took on a more active role in the summer of 2017, seemingly anticipating or even precipitating the government’s shift towards authoritarianism. Prior to Sokha’s arrest, the government shut down the National Democratic Institute, a US-funded pro-democracy organization that Fresh News claimed was also part of the plot to initiate a “color revolution” to topple the government like those in Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring. NDI was closed and its three foreign staff expelled, a decision that the government justified with materials leaked to Fresh News.

In January, three high-profile Cambodian activists were charged with “breach of trust” in a case widely seen as politically motivated. The men first found out about the charges against them when the court documents were published on Fresh News.

The documents originated from a meeting between NDI and the CNRP during which the groups discussed election campaign strategies. In its defense, NDI claimed they held similar training sessions with multiple parties, including Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). Further evidence of Fresh News’s close ties with the government emerged when the platform released photographs of all three foreign NDI staff, taken during their exit from Cambodia at Phnom Penh International Airport. USAID released a statement condemning the “deeply disappointing” decision, while a number of US Senators, including John McCain, also denounced the move.

The document leak was part of a pattern. In contrast to other Cambodian media, Fresh News benefits from exclusive and regular access to government documents, including court summonses and arrest warrants which are made available to the public on the platform. In January, three high-profile Cambodian activists were charged with “breach of trust” in a case widely seen as politically motivated. The men first found out about the charges against them when the court documents were published on Fresh News.

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Posted by: | Posted on: February 18, 2019

Cambodia has slip to the bottom of world justice index

គំរោងយុត្តិធម៌ពិភពលោកបានរកឃើញចំណាត់ថ្នាក់យុត្តិធម៌និងនីតិរដ្ឋរបស់កម្ពុជាធ្លាក់ចុះខ្លាំងឆ្នាំ២០១៨គឺ១១២ក្នុងចំណោមប្រទេសទាំង១១៣។ ប្រទេសវេណេស៊ូអេឡាធ្លាក់ទាបបំផុតគឺ១១៣នៅពេលដែលកម្ពុជាបានត្រឹមវាយលុកយកឯកទកម្មទីពីរទាបបំផុតបន្ទាប់ពីប្រទេសវេណេស៊ូអេឡា។ ក្នុងចំណោមសុចនាករទាំងនោះ យុត្តិធម៌សុីវិល(civil justice)គឺមានកំរិតទាបបំផុត។


Op-Ed and Original Source for Reference: Key Page, PDF File, Interactive Page

Region: East Asia & Pacific
Income Group: Lower Middle

Overall ScoreRegional RankIncome RankGlobal Rank
Score ChangeRank Change
Factor TrendFactor ScoreRegional RankIncome RankGlobal Rank
Constraints on 
Government Powers
Absence of Corruption0.2515/1530/30113/113
Open Government0.2315/1530/30113/113
Fundamental Rights0.3813/1527/30104/113
Order and Security0.6614/1518/3081/113
Regulatory Enforcement0.2715/1530/30112/113
Civil Justice0.2015/1530/30113/113
Criminal Justice0.2715/1528/30110/113
Trending upTrending downCountryLowCountryMediumCountryHigh
Country2017-2018 ScoreCountry2016 Score
CountryCambodiaCountryEast Asia & PacificCountryLower Middle
Constraints on Government
1.1Limits by legislature0.41
1.2Limits by judiciary0.25
1.3Independent auditing0.23
1.4Sanctions for official misconduct0.30
1.5Non-governmental checks0.33
1.6Lawful transition of power0.39
Absence of Corruption
2.1In the executive branch0.28
2.2In the judiciary0.15
2.3In the police/military0.25
2.4In the legislature0.31
Open Government
3.1Publicized laws & gov’t data0.20
3.2Right to information0.20
3.3Civic participation0.35
3.4Complaint mechanisms0.17
Fundamental Rights
4.1No discrimination0.39
4.2Right to life & security0.33
4.3Due process of law0.29
4.4Freedom of expression0.33
4.5Freedom of religion0.51
4.6Right to privacy0.29
4.7Freedom of association0.45
4.8Labor rights0.44
Order and Security
5.1Absence of crime0.81
5.2Absence of civil conflict1.00
5.3Absence of violent redress0.17
6.1Effective regulatory enforcement0.25
6.2No improper influence0.21
6.3No unreasonable delay0.47
6.4Respect for due process0.15
6.5No expropriation w/out adequate compensation0.26
Civil Justice
7.1Accessibility & affordability0.30
7.2No discrimination0.22
7.3No corruption0.11
7.4No improper gov’t influence0.17
7.5No unreasonable delay0.17
7.6Effective enforcement0.07
7.7Impartial & effective ADRs0.35
Criminal Justice
8.1Effective investigations0.35
8.2Timely & effective adjudication0.38
8.3Effective correctional system0.24
8.4No discrimination0.24
8.5No corruption0.18
8.6No improper gov’t influence0.20
8.7Due process of law0.29
Posted by: | Posted on: February 14, 2019

ភាពឯកោរបស់ហ៊ុនសែន បុណ្យមាឃបូជានិងការចាប់ផ្សឹកព្រះសង្ឃហោ សុខុន

សប្តាហ៍នេះជាដើមខែនៃបុណ្យមាឃបូជា ជាបុណ្យសំខាន់សម្រាប់អ្នកកាន់ព្រះពុទ្ធសាសនា។ មាឃបូជាត្រូវបានពុទ្ធបរិស័ទចាត់ទុកថាជាថ្ងៃបុណ្យរំលឹកដល់ព្រះធម៍នៅពេលដែលវិសាខបូជារំលឹកដល់ព្រះពុទ្ធ និងអាសាឍបូជារំលឹកដល់ព្រះសង្ឃ។

តែអ្វីដែលធ្វើអោយពុទ្ធបរិស័ទទូទាំងប្រទេសនិងជុំវិញពិភពលោកភ្ញាក់ផ្អើលនៅពេលនេះគឺការចាប់ផ្សឹកព្រះតេជគុណហោ-សុខុនទាំងយប់អាធ្រាតថ្ងៃទី១៣ខែកុម្ភៈឆ្នាំ២០១៩នេះនៅវត្តបទុមវតី រាជធានីភ្នំពេញ។ សូមបញ្ជាក់ថាព្រះតេជគុណហោ-សុខុនជាព្រះចៅអធិការវត្តច្បារអំពៅមានទស្សនទានព្រះពុទ្ធសាសនាផ្សាភ្ជាប់សង្គមដ៏ខ្លាំងក្លា ហើយរមែងកោតសរសើរមន្ត្រីជាច្រើនក្នុងជួររដ្ឋាភិបាលមានលោកនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រីហ៊ុន-សែនជាដើម។ ជាពិសេសជាងនេះទៅទៀតនោះ ព្រះសង្ឃអង្គនេះហ៊ានចេញមុខតវ៉ានិងប្តឹងលោកខឹម-វាសនា មេដឹកនាំបក្សសម្ព័ន្ធដើម្បីលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យដែលរមែងប្រើវោហាសាស្ត្រអសុរសវាយប្រហារប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ ព្រះសង្ឃ និងប្រទេសជាតិខ្លួនឯង តែរមែងគេចផុតពីសំណាញ់ច្បាប់។

សារចុងក្រោយដែលអាចនាំទៅរកការចាប់ផ្សឹកនេះគឺការដែលព្រះតេជគុណហោ-សុខុនអានអត្ថបទឡាយតាមហ្វេសប៊ុកសរសើរដល់លោកស-ខេងប្រៀបប្រដូចទៅនឹងផ្កាយសំណាងរបស់កម្ពុជាដែលអាចស្រោចស្រង់ប្រទេសជាតិពីវិបត្តិបច្ចុប្បន្ន។ អ្នកដែលទៅសួរនាំលោកដល់វត្តអំពីសុន្ទរកថានេះគឺលោកជា-សុផារ៉ានិងអភិបាលរាជធានីភ្នំពេញខួង-ស្រេងដែលគេស្គាល់ថាជាមនុស្សស្និទនឹងលោកនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រីហ៊ុន-សែន។


ជារឿយៗ លោកស-ខេងត្រូវបានមហាជនស្គាល់តាមរយៈភាពមុឺងម៉ាត់ក្នុងការគោរពច្បាប់និងមានចំណេះដឹងខ្ពស់ខាងដឹកនាំប្រទេសតាមនីតិរដ្ឋ ដែលផ្ទុយពីលោកហ៊ុន-សែនដែលរមែងបត់បែននិងជាន់ឈ្លីលើច្បាប់ក្នុងន័យរក្សាអំណាចក្នុងមោទនភាពនយោបាយឈ្នះៗរបស់ខ្លួន។ អ្នកទាំងពីរមានទស្សនៈដឹកនាំប្រទេសជាតិខុសគ្នាឆ្ងាយណាស់រាប់ចាប់តាំងពីលោកជា-សុីមមកម្លេះ។ មហាជនយល់ថាលោកស-ខេងប្រៀបបាននឹងទឹកត្រជាក់ដែលត្រីទាំងឡាយរមែងមកស្នាក់អាស្រ័យ។ ចំណែងលោកហ៊ុន-សែនប្រៀបបាននឹងភ្លើងដែលរមែងឆាបឆេះជារៀងរហូត។ ជាលទ្ធផល មកដល់ថ្ងៃនេះលោកស-ខេងប្រមូលបានអំណាចទន់និងប្រជាប្រីយភាពខ្ពស់ក្នុងជួរថ្នាក់ដឹកនាំគណបក្សប្រជាជនកម្ពុជា នៅពេលដែលលោកហ៊ុន-សែនបានប្រឹងកៀរគរកំលាំងប្រដាប់អាវុធមកដាក់ខាងខ្លួនបានស្ទើទាំងស្រុងទាំងកំឡាំងយោធានិងប៉ូលីស។ លោកហ៊ុន-សែនមិនគ្រាន់តែស្ងប់ចិត្តជាមួយកំឡាំងប្រដាប់អាវុធ ទាំងកំឡាំងអង្គរក្សទាំង៦០០០ពាន់នាក់ដែលស្វាមីភក្តិចំពោះខ្លួននិងកំឡាំងយោធាជាតិដែលមានកូនច្បងរបស់ខ្លួនជាមេបញ្ជាការថ្មីថ្មោងនោះទេ លោកហ៊ុន-សែនបានប្រឹងកៀរគរច្បាមយកសេដ្ឋកិច្ចជាតិទាំងមូលមកដាក់ក្រោមចំណុះរបស់ខ្លួនផងដែរ។ តាមសារវីដេអូឃ្លឹបរបស់ព្រះសង្ឃហោ-សុខុន ព្រះអង្គសរសើរដល់គុណសម្បត្តិរបស់លោកស-ខេងចំៗតែម្តង ដែលជារឿយៗលោកស-ខេងមិនហ៊ានទទួលយកជាសាធារណៈទេ។ ការកោតសរសើរនេះកើតឡើងមិនប៉ុន្មានថ្ងៃក្រោយការលេចធ្លាយឯកសារអ្នកស្រឡាញ់ស្នេហាគណបក្សប្រជាជនកម្ពុជាវាយប្រហារខ្លាំងៗទៅលើលោកហ៊ុន-សែនដែលបានដឹកនាំប្រទេសកាន់តែផ្តាច់ការនិងគ្មានហេតុផលខ្លាំងឡើងៗក្នុងពេលបច្ចុប្បន្ន។

Bhikkhu Ho Sokhon was forcefully disrobed in the night of Feb. 13, 2019


ការសន្និដ្ឋានបែបនេះកើតឡើងនៅពេលដែលលោកហ៊ុន-សែនរើខ្លួនចេញរួចពីបាតុកម្មមហាជនរាប់លាននាក់ដឹកនាំដោយគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិក្នុងឆ្នាំ២០១៣ប្រឆាំងនឹងលទ្ធផលបោះឆ្នោត។ ពេលនោះលោកហ៊ុន-សែនរុញកូនអុកទៅក្នុងក្រឡា៥យ៉ាងគឺ

១. ប្រូម៉ូតខ្លួនឯងតាមបណ្តាញសង្គមហ្វេសប៊ុកដើម្បីយកប្រៀបលើសម-រង្សុី និងយល់ព្រមតាមសំណើររបស់គណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិតាមចំណុចណាដែលខ្លួនបានប្រៀប។


៣. បង្កើនថាមពលនិងសព្វាវុធដល់ក្រុមអង្គរក្សផ្ទាល់ខ្លួន កំណែរទម្រង់កងយោធពលខេមរភូមិន្ទនិងប៉ូលីសដោយដាក់មនុស្សសំខាន់ៗដែលទុកចិត្តមានកូនៗនិងសាច់ញាតិជាដើម។

៤.្ ពង្រឹងនិងពង្រីកអំណាចក្រៅច្បាប់របស់ខ្លួនដើម្បីធ្វើអោយប្រាកដថាស្ថាប័នព្រះមហាក្សត្រ រដ្ឋសភា តុលាការ និងមន្ត្រីរាជការសុីវិលមានមនុស្សដែលស្មោះស្ម័គ្រខ្លួន ហើយពួកគេអាចធ្វើសកម្មភាពបានគ្រប់ពេលវេលាទាំងល្មើសច្បាប់ក៏អាចធ្វើបានដោយគ្មានទោសទណ្ឌ។

៥. ប្រគល់ដងខ្លួនមួយកំណាត់អោយទៅវៀតណាមនិងមួយកំណាត់ទៀតអោយទៅចិនដើម្បីអោយមានការគាំទ្រគំរោងបន្តអំណាចរបស់ខ្លួននិងការធ្វើសន្តតិវង្សមូបនីយកម្ម។

ជាលទ្ធផលលោកហ៊ុន-សែនធ្វើបានសម្រេចក្នុងរយៈពេល៣ឆ្នាំនេះដោយរំលាយគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិនិងដកបក្សដ៏ខ្លាំងក្លានេះចេញពីសៃវេណបោះឆ្នោតប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ និងបោះឆ្នោតលែងសើចក្តោបក្តាប់យកកៅអីសភាទាំង១២៥មកកាន់កាប់។


១. ក្លាយជារដ្ឋាភិបាលមិនស្របច្បាប់ឬខ្វះធម្មានុរូបពិតប្រាកដ

២. កាន់តែពង្រឹងកំឡាំងទ័ពនិងកំឡាំងសេដ្ឋកិច្ច ក្រុមមេដឹកនាំគ្រាក់ៗនិងសមាជិកបក្សកាន់តែមានសមានចិត្តដល់លោកស-ខេង

៣. អុីយូ សហរដ្ឋអេមរិក អូស្ត្រាលី កាណាដា និងអង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិ នឹងមានវិធានការណ៌ខ្លាំងក្លាជាបន្តបន្ទាប់លើភាពឆ្គាំឆ្គងរបស់លោកហ៊ុន-សែន

៤. លោកត្រាំទៅជួបប្រជុំលោកគីម-ចុងអ៊ុននៅវៀតណាមខាងមុខនេះនឹងជាសញ្ញាថាវៀតណាមយកអាមេរិកជាបង្អែកក្នុងន័យធ្វើតុល្យភាពអំណាចជាមួយចិនក៏ដូចជាអាចនឹងប្រគល់ដងខ្លួនមួយចំហៀងនោះអោយមកហ៊ុន-សែនវិញ។ និង

៥. ពេលបច្ចឹមប្រទេសផ្តាច់កិច្ចអនុគ្រោះពន្ធពីកម្ពុជា ចិនជាអ្នកបាត់បងចំណូលច្រើនជាងគេពីព្រោះរោងចក្រកាត់ដេរជាង៦០០នៅកម្ពុជា ចិនជាអ្នកផ្គត់ផ្គង់វត្ថុធាតុដើម ហើយម្ចាស់រោងចក្រភាគច្រើនគឺជាជនជាតិចិន។

ហ៊ុន-សែននឹងក្លាយជាជនឯកាបន្តិចម្តងៗ មិនខុសពីភ្លើងបើឆេះសន្ធរសន្ធៅនៅកន្លែងណា មហាជននាំគ្នារត់ចេញពីកន្លែងនោះ។


ព្រះសង្ឃដែលមានអបត្តិបរាជិក៤ ទើបអាចផ្សឹកបាន។ ព្រះសង្ឃហោ-សុខុនដែលជាអ្នកគាំទ្រគណបក្សប្រជាជនកម្ពុជាយ៉ាងប្តូរផ្តាច់ ព្រះអង្គគ្រាន់តែទេសនាវែកញែកតាមរយៈការច្របាច់បញ្ចូលគ្នារវាងធម៍និងសង្គម ឬគ្រាន់តែជាការសរសើរនិងនិន្ទាតាមទស្សនគតិផ្ទាល់ខ្លួន មិនអាចខុសវិន័យរហូតដល់មានការចាប់ផ្សឹកនោះទេ។ ប្រការនេះជាការជាន់ឈ្លឺព្រះពុទ្ធសាសនាយ៉ាងកំរោល។ ប្រទេសកម្ពុជាមានវត្តប្រហែលជាង៤០០០វត្ត និងមានព្រះសង្ឃប្រហែលជាង៦០០០០អង្គ។ ក្នុងចំណោមប្រជាពលរដ្ឋជាង១៥លាននាក់ ៩៨ភាគរយជាអ្នកជឿនិងប្រតិបត្តិព្រះពុទ្ធសាសនា។


ក្នុងវ័យជរានិងមានជំងឺប្រចាំរាងកាយទៀត លោកហ៊ុន-សែនកំពុងប្រឈមបញ្ហាសព្វបែបយ៉ាង ទាំងផ្ទៃក្នុងបក្ស ទាំងការបាត់បង់សំលេងគាំទ្រពីប្រជាជននិងអន្តរជាតិ និងការត្រឡប់មកប្រទេសកម្ពុជាវិញរបស់លោកសម-រង្សុី។ ត្រូវកត់ចំណាំថាគំរោងវិលត្រឡប់មកប្រទេសវិញរបស់លោកសម-រង្សុីនឹងអាចមិនខុសគ្នាពីការប្រកាសជាប្រធានាធិបតីស្តីទីរបស់លោកជួន កៃដូ នៃប្រទេសវេណាស៊ូអេឡាទេ។ លោកសម-សង្សុីនឹងត្រូវប្រជាពលរដ្ឋមកទទួលស្វាគមន៍រាប់លាននាក់ដូចកំឡុងឆ្នាំង២០១៣ អន្តរជាតិជាពិសេសប្រទេសលោកសេរីនិងអង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិមិនអាចមិនអើរពើរ នឹងអមដំណើរលោកសម-រង្សុីនិងគណៈប្រតិភូរបស់គាត់ផងដែរ។

Greeting crowd to welcome Sam Rainsy from abroad lining up from Airport to Phnom Penh city: this photo is at the Cabinet of Minister or House of PM Hun Sen in that Time.
Posted by: | Posted on: February 10, 2019

Freedom house rated Cambodia is “no free” country under Hun Sen leadership

Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen cemented his grip on power with lopsided general elections that came after authorities dissolved the main opposition party and shuttered independent media outlets. The military and police openly campaigned for the ruling party, which won all the seats in the legislature.

នាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រីកម្ពុជាលោកហ៊ុន-សែនចាក់គ្រឹះអំណាចរបស់គាត់តាមរយៈការបោះឆ្នោតជាតិដែលខ្វះធម្មានុរូបច្បាប់ដែលបានប្រព្រឹត្តឡើងបន្ទាប់ពីអាជ្ញាធររំលាយគណបក្សជំទាស់ដ៏សំខាន់និងបិទប្រព័ន្ធផ្សព្វផ្សាយឯករាជ្យ។ មន្ត្រីយោធានិងប៉ូលីសបើកយុទ្ធនាការគាំទ្រគណបក្សគ្រប់គ្រងអំណាចយ៉ាងចំហរដែលគណបក្សនេះបានឈ្នះកៅអីសភាទាំងអស់តែម្តង។

Op-Ed: Key Developments by Freedom House Report 2019

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  • The CPP won every seat in the lower house, the National Assembly, in July elections. The polls were held amid a period of repression that began in earnest in 2017, and saw the banning of the main opposition party, opposition leaders jailed or forced into exile, and remaining major independent media outlets reined in or closed. The CPP also dominated elections for the upper house, or Senate, held in February, taking every elected seat.
  • The Phnom Penh Post, regarded by many observers as the last remaining independent media outlet in Cambodia, was taken over by a Malaysian businessman with links to Hun Sen.
  • A Cambodian court sentenced an Australian filmmaker to six years in jail on charges of espionage. He had been arrested after denouncing rights abuses and filming political rallies.
  • In November, the UN-assisted court known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal found Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, two surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge, guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. The verdict for the first time legally defined the Khmer Rouge’s crimes as genocide.


Courtesy: Freedom House Report 2019

Cambodia’s political system has been dominated by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) for more than three decades. The country has conducted semicompetitive elections in the past, but the 2018 polls were held in a severely repressive environment that offered voters no meaningful choice. The main opposition party was banned, opposition leaders were in jail or exiled, and independent media and civil society outlets were curtailed. The CPP won every seat in the lower house for the first time since the end of the Cambodian Civil War, as well as every elected seat in the upper house in indirect elections held earlier in the year.  Political Rights and Civil Liberties: 



A1.      Was the current head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections? 0 / 4 (–1)

King Norodom Sihamoni is chief of state, but has little political power. The prime minister is head of government, and is appointed by the monarch from among the majority coalition or party in parliament following legislative elections. Hun Sen first became prime minister in 1985. He was nominated most recently after 2018 National Assembly polls, which offered voters no meaningful choice. Most international observation groups were not present due to the highly restrictive nature of the contest.

Score Change: The score declined from 1 to 0 because the incumbent prime minister was unanimously confirmed for another term after parliamentary elections that offered voters no meaningful choice.

A2.      Were the current national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections? 0 / 4 (–1)

The bicameral parliament consists of the 62-seat Senate and the 125-seat National Assembly. Members of parliament and local councilors indirectly elect 58 senators, and the king and National Assembly each appoint 2. Senators serve six-year terms, while National Assembly members are directly elected to five-year terms.

Courtesy: Freedom House Country Report 2019

In 2018, the CPP won every seat in both chambers in elections that were considered neither free nor fair by established international observers, which declined to monitor them. In the months before the polls, the Supreme Court had banned the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and jailed many of its members, and closed media outlets and intimidated journalists to the extent that there was almost no independent reporting on the campaign or the polls. Several small, obscure new “opposition parties” ran candidates in the lower house elections, though many of the parties were widely believed to have been manufactured to suggest multiparty competition. Following calls for an election boycott by former CNRP leaders, Hun Sen repeatedly warned that people who did not vote in the election could be punished. The election was condemned by many democracies. The United States responded by imposing targeted sanctions on Cambodian leaders, while the EU threatened to roll back a preferential trade agreement.

Score Change: The score declined from 1 to 0 because the parliamentary elections took place in a highly repressive environment that offered voters no meaningful choice, and produced a one-party legislature.

A3.      Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies? 1 / 4 (–1)

In 2015, Cambodia passed two new election laws that permit security forces to take part in campaigns, punish parties that boycott parliament, and mandate a shorter campaign period of 21 days. The laws have been broadly enforced.

Voting is tied to a citizen’s permanent resident status in a village, township, or urban district, and this status cannot be changed easily. In 2017, an amendment to the electoral law banned political parties from association with anyone convicted of a criminal offense.

The National Election Committee (NEC) was reformed in 2013, but the CPP has since asserted complete control over its nine seats. Criminal charges were brought against the body’s one independent member in 2016, who was then jailed and removed from the body. The four NEC members affiliated with the CNRP resigned following the party’s 2017 dissolution. In 2018, the NEC sought to aid the CPP’s campaign by threatening to prosecute any figures that urged an election boycott, and informing voters via text message that criticism of the CPP was prohibited.

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