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New report highlights systematic erosion of freedom of expression

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 30 September 2010 - ARTICLE 19, Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and 15 other Cambodian and international organisations and unions are launching a new report, titled "Cambodia Gagged: Democracy at Risk?" in which the organisations highlight the deteriorating freedom of expression situation in the country. The report also shows how each of the pillars of democracy are being systematically silenced by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC).

The report, which was coordinated by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), raises concern over the continued erosion of the right to freedom of expression, especially how the judiciary is being used as an organ of repression in silencing dissent and opinion critical of the government. Despite Cambodia's commitments to protect the right to freedom of expression through domestic and international laws, the freedom of expression situation in the country is deteriorating.

"In recent years, acts of intimidation, harassment and the inappropriate use of criminal law to thwart criticism, have created a climate of fear and widespread self-censorship, depriving Cambodians of their rights to expression and information that are crucial to genuine democratic participation," says ARTICLE 19 Executive Director Agnès Callamard.

The government's crackdown on freedom of expression includes the targeting and silencing of parliamentarians, the media, lawyers, human rights activists and the general public. One of the key findings of the report is that such systematic attacks on freedom of expression are putting democracy at risk.

As noted by CCHR President Ou Virak, "With the use of state power to silence debate and close the space for pluralism and diversity of opinion, we fear the emergence in Cambodia of an autocratic, authoritarian political system seriously eroding the rights and freedoms of all Cambodians. The government can however still turn the tide and give democracy a real chance by protecting and encouraging freedom of expression."

In conclusion, the report provides a series of recommendations for the government to protect and promote freedom of expression, and recommends ways in which the international community can demand greater accountability from the government regarding respect for freedom of expression and other human rights.

Click here to read the full report:
cambodia-gagged-democracy-at-risk.pdf (2971 KB)

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