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Cambodian authorities must reinstate Voice of Democracy, UN experts said on 20 February, after the independent radio station was stripped of its licence to broadcast in English and Khmer last week.

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“We are alarmed by the revocation of Voice of Democracy’s licence without due process, and with immediate effect in the run up to crucial national elections due in July this year,” the experts said.

“The revocation leaves virtually no free media outlets operating in the country,” they said.

Voice of Democracy was one of Cambodia’s last remaining independent media outlets, based in the capital Phnom Penh. The outlet, run by the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, published radio and online reports human rights issues, environmental crime and corruption.

The experts called on Cambodian authorities to review the revocation with immediate effect.

“The world is watching Cambodia ahead of the July elections,” the UN experts said.

“Cambodia needs a vibrant civil society and independent media at this critical juncture, including media outlets that critically report on government policies. We strongly urge authorities to reverse the decision,” they said.

The experts: Vitit Muntarbhorn, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia; and  Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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