Topic: Freedom of Expression in Cambodia
1. Basic needs of human rights
2. What is freedom of expression?
3. Function of freedom of expression
4. Objective: the study of the topic
5. Literature Review: Statement of Mr. Mark C. Storella US Charge d’Affairs on Freedom of Expression in Cambodia. Why Cambodia needs to strengthen freedom of expression?
1. Cambodia and Freedom of Expression
2. Cambodian Constitution, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on freedom of expression.
3. Cambodian Government’s Restriction on freedom of expression.
4. The arrests of Journalist, Trade Unions, and Human Rights Activists
5. Local and International Reaction of the arrests of Journalists, Trade Unions, and Human Rights Activists
6. The effect of the arrests of Journalists, Trade Unions, and Human Rights Activists.
7. Sum up each point.
1. State the conclusion once again.
2. Give an own opinion on freedom of expression and make some suggestions to the royal government of Cambodia.
I. Basic needs of human beings.
Every nationality not only Cambodian people but also the other nationalities in the world are born free and every human being have body, soul or spirit and lives in a group. All human beings have the same basic needs such as physical life means body, spiritual life include political and religious believe, human relations, education, and living in a group of human beings include communication, association, and participation.
2. What is Freedom of Expression?
Freedom of expression is a concept of being able to speak freely without fear of censorship. Freedom of expression is very important for democracy that is based upon public debate, open decision making and free exchange of ideas, free access to information.
3. Function of Freedom of Expression
Cambodia is a plural democratic country with 14 million people. The concept of pluralist society is based on the ideas in order to make society livelier and stronger when all people can distribute their ideas and points of problems of society like one proverb said: “Four eyes see more than just two eyes”. Function of freedom of expression divided into two: one is to get free information about their society and relevant problems for example: party program and government policy. The other problem is to express their opinion to the state, and contribute their opinions about the solution of the problems to the society.
4. The objective of the topic ( the study of the topic)
I decided to choose this topic because I saw that freedom of expression in Cambodia is still a hot issue in Cambodia, and freedom of expression is a fundamental factor to promote democracy and it is still a concern for civil society to state their political opinion, and the young democratic state like Cambodia needs freedom of expression to express their opinion in order to develop the country as soon as possible by promoting freedom of expression.
5. Literature Review
U.S. Charge d'Affairs in Phnom Penh, Mark C. Storella, said that the civil societies' work is very important in strengthening human rights in Cambodia, and that freedom of expression is fundamental to democracy in Cambodia. Why Cambodian society needs to promote freedom of expression?
1. Cambodia and Freedom of Expression
After election in 1993, Cambodia became the democratic country, based on the Cambodian Constitution Cambodia is a place where people can talk, access to the information, exchange ideas without fear in the public, school, café, internet café. Especially, people can talk about the politics everywhere with no concerns.
Freedom of Expression in Cambodia is quite low when we compare to other democratic states like in Europe or in the United Sates. Related to the education background of the Cambodian citizens, a lot of people still cannot read and write; especially, people in the rural areas, and there is no information about the state activities, and it is too hard to get the information about the government because of public medias such as radio station, TV station, press and any news in Cambodia is still limited and controlled by the government.
2. Cambodia Constitution, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on Freedom of expression
Cambodian people have the right to express their opinions, exchange ideas, access to information, and talk in the public without punishment. All of these rights guarantee by the Cambodian Constitution, the Universal Declaration and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In Cambodian Constitution article 41 said: “Khmer citizens shall have freedom of expression, press, publication and assembly. No one shall exercise this right to infringe upon the rights of others, to affect the good traditions of the society, to violate public law and other and national security.” 
In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 19 said: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
And in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights said: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, by law, are necessary to protect national security, public order, public health or morals or the rights and freedom of others, and are consistent with the other right recognized in the present Covenant.”
3. Cambodian Government’s Restriction on Freedom of Expression
The right to freedom of expression has been rejected by the Cambodian authorities since 2003, when a mob attacked the Royal Thai embassy and Thai businesses in the Phnom Penh city. The attack was sparked by reports of mocking remarks made by a Thai actress about Cambodia’s ancient temple of Angk Wat. In this incident, most public demonstrations in Phnom Penh have been prohibited. In 2005, un-authorized demonstrations against high petrol prices, the participants were beat with the electric batons. And then they were arrested and forced to sign a promise not to demonstrate again before being released.
The Cambodian government also started to restrict public forums in 2005 by instructing the Buddhist clergy to bar the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) from holding such forums within their premises. At the same time, the government has allowed for public demonstrations on corruption or to celebrate international women's day or international human rights day. On the other hand, during these demonstrations the Cambodian police have suppressed the slogans on banners and have dictated the way of the demonstration.
4. The arrest of Journalists, Trade Unions, and Human Rights Activists
Mr. Mam Sonando, who is the owner and the director of Beehive Radio FM 105, was arrested without a court warrant at his house in the Kandal province on October 11, 2005. He was charged with defamation under article 63 of UNTAC criminal law which is punishable up to one year in prison. Other charges of disinformation and incitement of others were filled against Mr. Mam Sonando.
The charges relate to the broadcasting on September 20, 2005 of a radio interview between Mr Mam Sonando and Cambodian activist in France Mr Sean Pengse, president of the Paris-based Cambodia's Border Committee, criticizing a Cambodia-Vietnam border treaty that was signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen. The interview was broadcast before the Prime Minister was due to sign the controversial Supplemental Agreement to the 1985 Cambodia-Vietnam Border Treaty.
Mr. Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers, was arrested on October 15, 2005 in the charge of defamation and incitement of others. He was arrested in Bean Teay Meanchey province while he was trying to cross Thai border to seek the political asylum.
On December 31, 2005, Mr. Kem Sokha, president of Cambodian Center for Human Rights, on charges of defamation over a banner which display on the celebration of the International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2005.
At the same day, Mr. Yeng Virak, director of Community Legal Education Center and the chairman of the committee on December 10, 2005 arrested on charges of defamation as well.
Mr. Pa Ngoun Teang, the acting director of Cambodian Center for Human Rights, was arrested on January 04, 2006. He was charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with defamation.
5. Local and International Reaction of the arrest of Journalists, Trade Unions, and Human Rights Activists
After the arrests of Journalists Trade Unions, and Human Rights Activists, there are a lot of local non-governmental organizations, and International non-governmental organization put pressure and condemn the royal government of Cambodia for example: the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL), the Cambodian Committee of Women (CAMBOW), the Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia (AFEC) and the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC) are extremely concerned about the threat that made by the royal government of Cambodia (RGC) to force out the open society justice initiative. They criticize any decisions and actions made by the royal government of Cambodia to limit freedom of expression in Cambodia that is guaranteed by article 41 in the Cambodian Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Cambodia signed in May 1992. They also urge the royal government of Cambodia to promote and ensure freedom of expression in Cambodia.
On Wednesday, November 30, 2005, the Cambodian Human Rights groups made a national wide campaign demand the royal government of Cambodia ends the restriction on freedom of expression. The groups also calls for the Cambodian Courts stop using criminal law to arrest, charge, convict people who criticize the government policy.
On Monday, October 24, 2005, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights organized a conference at the Phnom Penh Hotel. This conference took place after arrest Mr. Mam Sonando, director of Beehive Radio FM 105 station and Mr. Rong Chhun, director of Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, the purposes of the conference are: needs the royal government of Cambodia withdraw the lawsuit and charges against its critics and needs the government to release Mr. Mam Sonando and Mr. Rong Chhun without any conditions. On that day, Mr. Mark C. Storella, US Charge d’ Affairs in Phnom Penh condemns the arrest and detention Mr. Mam Sonando and Mr. Rong Chhun and he also calls for the Cambodian people to stand up and express their opinion peacefully.
On December 10, 2005, the International Human Rights day, Mr. Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said the freedom of expression is provided by the Cambodian Constitution and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights so when people expression their opinion about the state policy there is no lawsuit against them or put them into the prison at all. The Amnesty International urges the Cambodian government to release Mr. Mam Sonando and Mr. Rong Chhun without delay and conditions and calls for the royal government of Cambodia to withdraw the criminal complaints against Mr. Mam Sonando, Mr. Rong Chhun, Mr. Ea Channa, Mr. Men Nath, Mr. Chea Mony and Prince Sisowath Thomico. The Amnesty International also appeals to the government of Cambodia to ensure all the practice of freedom of expression by the Cambodian people.
US Department of State Spokesman, Mr. Sean McComack that release on January 06, 2006, he urges the royal government of Cambodia to stop the arrest and prosecution of those who want to expression their opinion that recognized internationally and drop the charges against the Journalists, leaders of civil society, and human rights activists.
On January 18, 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists, main office in New York condemns the royal of government of Cambodia used the criticism as the criminal defamation and calls on Prime Minister Hun Sen to drop all criminal defamation charges against Mom Sonando, Kem Sokha, and Pa Guon Tieng, Rong Chhun, and Yeng Virak.
On January 04, 2006, the Human Rights Watch calls for the royal government of Cambodia to drop the charges of criminal defamation and release the leading human activists and the Human Rights Watch also stated that the arrests of human rights activists violate the freedom of expression and contrary to right by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1998 and International Donors should warn the government to end the case of criticism is criminal defamation.
6. The effect of the arrests of Journalists, Trade Unions, and Human Rights Activists
The Cambodian government has the right to act to ensure the security of their citizens, but in the case of freedom of expression, the Cambodian government not only ensures their security, but also charges them as criminal defamation and sent them to prison. These activities cause a lot of problems to the Cambodian society; for instance, the Cambodian government make the whole society move backward from the democratic country to the dictatorship, the Cambodian government violates the Cambodian Constitution, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Cambodian government weakens the civil society to exercise their rights of freedom of expression, and the Cambodian government also threatens the public opinion to be afraid to express their ideas that related to the state issues; especially, the public actors.
7. Sum up each point
Related to the Cambodian Constitution, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee the right to freedom of expression and a lot of people; for example, Journalists, Trade Unions, Human Rights Activists were charged with criminal defamation and they were in jail because of claiming the freedom of expression and a lot of local and international civil society they tried to put pressure on the Cambodian government in order to urge the government to respect the right to freedom of expression and release the Journalists, Trade Unions, and Human Rights Activists. So freedom of expression is very essential for Cambodia to rehearse the democracy system throughout promoting freedom of expression.
1. State the conclusion once again
Freedom of Expression is one of the key to democracy. In order to become the democratic state, Cambodia requires freedom of expression which contains the free speech, free access to the information, and criticizes the public actors without punishment or censorship. The public opinion is fundamental for the society to share and give their opinion to the state policy. Furthermore when people can criticize any state policies, this civil society can move forward very quickly. For example, in modern society like the United States, almost all of American peoples, they can share ideas, get the information from the state and they also can criticize the state without fear ness.
2. Give an own idea on freedom of expression and make some suggestions to royal government of Cambodia
From my view point, Cambodia society absolutely desires freedom of express to promote democracy. The royal Cambodia shall make the law of freedom of expression clearly and doe not use UNTAC law to against the democracy activists. I also have some suggestions to the government. The Cambodia government shall encourage people to express their ideas, criticize to the state instead of threaten them from practicing their rights of freedom of express. In addition, the royal government of Cambodia shall encourage the civil society keep giving much more information from the local areas where they worked with because the local NGOs stay closer to people who live in that areas. We cannot rely only on the state agencies to promote freedom of expression, we also want the NGOs to work directly to people or educate them about the freedom of expression. Finally, when we become the democratic society, our people can have a better standard living includes housing, health care, education system, better infrastructures, food security, hygiene water, and better income of the people. As a result, freedom of expression is a solution to democracy and is only way we can get the new society with good governance, transparency, accountability, and separation of power is very independent between the government, the legislative, and the judiciary branch.
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4. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (2006, November). Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, p. 12.
5. Khan, Irene. (2005, December 10). “Open Letter on the occasion of Human Rights Day 2005 raising concern about the state of Freedom of Expression in Kingdom of Cambodia.” Retrieved December 10, 2005 from http: // www. amnesty international.com
6. The Committer to Protect Journalists. (2006, January 18). “CPJ seeks halt to Cambodia’s media crackdown.” Retrieved January 18, 2006 from http: // www. cpj.org
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