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At the end of a visit to Cambodia on 18 August, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Cambodia expressed her concerns over the use in that country of a range of laws to restrict the space for criticism and to quell political debate. Since then, further actions have been taken by the authorities including the expulsion of the National Democratic Institute and the reported closure of a radio station rebroadcasting opposition party programmes. The Cambodia Daily, a newspaper that has been publishing in Phnom Penh since 1993, has been given a very short ultimatum to pay a very large tax bill or shut down.
Organisations operating in Cambodia need to abide by Cambodian law. However, the European Union expects the Cambodian authorities to apply the law in a reasonable and equitable way. A free media is an important underpinning of pluralist democracy, and open discussion is the best support for effective policy-making. It is particularly important ahead of the National Assembly election in July 2018 that the media, civil society and political parties should be able to carry out their legitimate roles without threats or excessive restrictions.