MDIF is seriously concerned by the closure of Voice of Democracy radio, one of Cambodia’s last free media outlets, on 13 February, 2023, for allegedly slandering the son of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The story quoted a government spokesperson that Hun Sen’s son, Lt. Gen. Hun Manet, had signed a donation on his father’s behalf for $100,000 for Turkey earthquake relief. Hun Sen, who has ruled the country for 38 years, said this was incorrect as only he has the authority to make decisions on foreign aid. Even though VoD acknowledged making a mistake, the Information Ministry revoked VoD’s licence “because it has seriously violated the ethics of professional journalism and did not make a correction according to the press law, affecting the honour and prestige of the government”.
VoD has a record of reporting extensively on sensitive issues in Cambodia, including organised crime, corruption and illegal land grabs.
The revocation of VoD’s broadcasting licence is totally out of proportion to any harm that may have been caused, particularly as VoD has apologised for the inaccuracy, and is a serious blow to media freedom in the country. MDIF calls on the Information Ministry to immediately reinstate VoD’s licence so that it is able once again to fulfil its important role providing news and information to the Cambodian people. As one of the last free media outlets, it is particularly important that VoD is able to provide fair, balanced coverage of the general election scheduled for July.
At this difficult time for media in Cambodia, we hope that international organisations will continue to provide support to independent media in Cambodia in any way possible.