Responding to reports that Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered media organization ‘Voice of Democracy’ (VOD) to close following a February 9 VOD report that Hun Sen’s eldest son, Lieutenant General Hun Manet, had allegedly approved financial aid to Türkiye, Hana Young, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director, said:
“This is a blatant attempt to slam the door on what’s left of independent media in the country, and a clear warning to other critical voices months before national elections. The Prime Minister should immediately withdraw this heavy-handed and disproportionate order.
“Arbitrarily shutting down an outspoken media organization will have an immediate chilling effect on anyone who still dares to ask questions about the actions of the Cambodian government. It also comes against a backdrop of ongoing repression against anyone remotely critical of the Prime Minister and his family.
“VOD’s reporters have developed a reputation for thorough investigative reporting on crucial human rights issues. The order to close puts the Cambodian public’s access to information at risk now that the government has removed another obstacle along its road to wipe out dissent in the country.”
Cambodia’s Voice of Democracy is a local news outlet run by the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, publishing on a wide range of issues including politics, human rights and the environment.
Hun Sen ordered the shutdown of VOD on Sunday night after taking issue with a news report about his son. The orders came after a February 9 VOD report that Hun Sen’s eldest son, Hun Manet, approved financial aid to Türkiye after its devastating earthquake this month. Hun Manet denies approving the aid.
Instead, Hun Sen, who has declared Hun Manet as his eventual successor, stated he signed off on the US$100,000 foreign ministry aid package.
Despite VOD sending the Prime Minister a letter in which it said it was “regretful for confusions” regarding the article, Hun Sen said he could “not accept the term ‘regretful’ and the request for forgiveness instead of an apology”.
“In the name of the government, which has to protect its dignity, I decide to end the case by ordering the information ministry to cancel the license for VOD from now on and that it stop broadcasting by 10am,” Hun Sen wrote on his Facebook page.