Sustaining community and media participation in promoting freedom of expression
Cambodia is still suffering from the effects of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s and the ensuing years of civil strife. The legacy of these historical factors is manifold, but two major effects are the prevalence of a voiceless and fragmented civil society, unable or unwilling to speak up about basic rights, and the continuation of repressive or corrupt state systems. This is particularly noticeable in the constraints placed upon freedom of expression and media plurality in Cambodia. The adoption of the new penal code in 2010 potentially limits freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Despite the relatively high number of TV, radio and media publications in the country (10, 52 and over 100 respectively) self-censorship and political bias hamper independent reporting. According to Freedom House, journalists critical of the state remain vulnerable to threats or intimidation, and professional training opportunities are scarce. These factors contribute to Cambodia’s low ranking in the 2010 Index of Press Freedom: 128 out of 178 countries worldwide.
While recognizing that the problems facing independent media in Cambodia are complex and interlinked, this project is directly aimed at supporting marginalized and ethnic communities to express their views and interests through active participation in media broadcasting. In order to promote community participation about freedom of expression, this project will train 60 citizen journalists and actively involve them in the production of radio broadcasts from three target communes. This will build the capacity of communities to advocate for their rights in general (not only the right to freedom of expression), strengthen independent media networks and bolster media diversity in Cambodia.