By Phil Dierking
06 February, 2018

Cambodia's government has ordered internet service providers to block online access to The Cambodia Daily newspaper.

In a letter dated Sept. 28, 2017, recently made public, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications ordered internet service providers to block IP addresses to the Cambodia Daily's website. The order extended to the newspaper's Facebook and Twitter sites. However, technology experts say these remain unblocked.

The ministry did not return request for comment from Radio Free Asia, or RFA. However, internet service providers in Cambodia have confirmed to customers and the Phnom Penh Post that they had blocked access to the newspaper website. They said this block came after the government order.

The Cambodian Daily Newspaper is shown in an undated photo.
The Cambodian Daily Newspaper is shown in an undated photo.

Nop Vy is executive director for the Cambodian Center for Independent Media. He told RFA that the government's actions were damaging to media freedom and open access to information.

"Our citizens find it necessary to receive news and information from a wide number of sources," Nop Vy said. He added, "The more they receive news that is independent [from government control], the better they will be able to live in our society."

The Cambodia Daily was closed last year after failing to pay millions of dollars in what Prime Minister Hun Sen said were back taxes owed to the government.

Around the same time, the government also suspended 20 radio stations that carried content by U.S. broadcasters RFA and Voice of America. And it banned the U.S.-funded National Democratic Institute or NDI from the country. The organization supports open government and citizen participation in democracy.

Calling for sanctions

On Feb. 5, Australian legislator Mark Butler asked his government to sanction Cambodia for their actions. Australia has a duty, he said, "to the Cambodian people and to our own values of democracy and freedom to oppose the anti-democratic actions in the lead-up to Cambodia's June general elections."

Butler added that Australia had played an important role in the Paris Peace Accords. The country promised to protect and provide free and fair elections after the Khmer Rouge.

In a response, Cambodia's ruling party spokesman said the call for sanctions reflects the Australian government's own political interests. He said that the government has obeyed the Paris Peace Accords and the rule of law.

As for the organizations that had been shut down, he said, "They made their own mistakes, and must be held accountable for their actions."

I'm Phil Dierking.

This story was originally reported by Radio Free Asia. Phil Dierking adapted this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

What do think is a fair reason for closing a newspaper? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.

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Words in This Story

IP addresses - n. a unique string of numbers separated by periods that identifies each computer using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network.

sanction - n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc

society - n. people in general thought of as living together in organized communities with shared laws, traditions, and values

sources - n. someone or something that provides what is wanted or needed