Cambodia: Prime Minister Orders Shut Down of Independent Broadcaster

Photo: VOD [via Vice]

The Facts

  • One of the last remaining independent broadcasters in Cambodia, Voice of Democracy (VOD), has ceased operations after Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday ordered its shutdown over alleged attacks by the outlets on the politician and his son.

  • VOD was accused of reporting misleading coverage about earthquake aid to Turkey — claiming that Hun Sen's son Lt. Gen. Hun Manet signed a document authorizing $100K in relief aid on behalf of his father. Such foreign aid packages can only be signed off with the authority of the prime minister.

The Spin

Narrative A

VOD has built a reputation for doggedly investigating corruption and human rights abuses in Cambodia, such as issues of human trafficking and scam compounds. Hun Sen has not shut this organization down due to misreporting, he is seeking revenge for VOD's role in exposing official complicity in systemic fraud and exploitation. The international community cannot let this suppression of the free press go unchallenged.

Narrative B

VOD has taken responsibility for its conduct, having sought forgiveness for misreporting over humanitarian aid. Despite the Ministry of Information facilitating a meeting with VOD representatives, the broadcaster failed to apologize for misleading the public about the prime minister. News organizations cannot be allowed to publish unsubstantiated claims without accountability. The global community must put this issue in the proper context.

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