June 6, 2019
The country came under criticism for press censorship leading up to its last election.
The Cambodian Ministry of Information agreed to allow Voice of America (VoA) to open its representative office.
The Ministry of Information agreed in principle on Thursday to allow Voice of America (VoA) to open its representative office in Cambodia. Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith took to his Facebook, saying he had a meeting with Michael Newbill, Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, and deputy director for operations at the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM), Matthew Walsh.
The minister noted that the latter came “to learn about the press situation in Cambodia and to discuss the opening of VoA representative office in the Kingdom”.
The US embassy spokesman in Phnom Penh, Arend Zwartjes, confirmed that the officials had agreed on a roadmap for registering VoA and Radio Free Asia (RFA) in Cambodia.
Zwartjes said via email: “Our hope is that both VoA and RFA will soon be allowed to register and once again broadcast in Cambodia.”
Kanharith had agreed in principle with VoA opening a representative office in the Kingdom, spokesperson for the Ministry of Information Meas Sophorn told The Post on Thursday.
He said the US counterpart would have to submit a registration application as required. “We have clarified with them that every registration of a legal representative must follow procedures as stated in law and the legal procedure related to an office registration.”
“The US counterpart was informed about that matter and they accepted our advice. They will return the registration application file to the ministry soon,” Sophorn said.
He stressed that the government is “promoting freedom of the press and speech”. “If they have a representative office in Cambodia, they could fulfil their work as other news agencies,” Sophorn said.
Shut down in 2017
In August 2017, more than 30 radio stations which rented airtime to the now-defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), VOA and Radio Free Asia (RFA) were shut down.
RFA closed its operation in Cambodia in September 2017, claiming that a crackdown on the media had made it impossible to continue operations in the Kingdom.
After its closing, two RFA reporters were arrested and charged with “illegally collecting information for a foreign source”.
They were released on bail after the general elections last year, in which the ruling Cambodian People’s Party won all 125 seats in the National Assembly.