At least seven journalists were restricted from covering the news during the 2023 Election. In the majority of the cases, the journalists were confronted by polling station officials, and restricted from taking photos and conducting interviews in the polling station.
In some cases, after refusing to stop photographing and interviewing, the journalists were allowed to continue working. However, in other cases, they were prevented from entering the polling station. Additionally, there are a few instances of polling officials taking pictures of the journalists for a report.
July 23, 2023 Phsar Thmey2 polling station, Phnom Penh: Sun Narnin, a reporter from VOA, said he was banned by an election official from taking pictures and interviewing people at a polling station. Narin said at the polling station Phsar Thmey2, the NEC officials told him not take pictures but after he advocated for himself, he was allowed to take pictures, but was not allowed to interview people in the polling station.
He said he even showed those officials his media pass issue by NEC. “We did not enter the room to take photos, we stood outside, but they did not allow it. The station where I went to cover the news is located on the street and they did not allow me to interview voters there,” he said.
On the same day, Uon Chhin, CamboJA’s video producer said a bodyguard for FUNCINPEC president Prince Chakravuth repeatedly threatened to throw away his mobile phone, accusing him of approaching and touching the prince while taking photos of the prince.
Chhin said that he covered the news at Veal Sbov polling station, and while taking the video, one of the prince’s bodyguards warned he was going to take his iPhone and throw it away if Chhin continue to approach and touch the prince. However, Chhin quickly denied the allegation, saying that he did not touch the prince.
“I’m gonna slap your phone down if you touch him [Prince Norodom Chakravuth] once again,” a bodyguard warned, as quoted by Chhin.
Chhin replied that “No, I didn’t touch anyone.” Then the bodyguard said, “Three times already!”
A group of photographers and videographers were banned from entering inside the voting room to take picture where president of FUNCINPEC party, Prince Norodom Chakrakvuth went to vote.
At about 9am in the morning, Prince Noromdom Chakravuth went to vote at Veal Sbov pagoda, Veal Sbov commune, Chbar Ampov district.
Photographers were required to stay outside because it is hard to take pictures, a photographer who asked not to be named told CamboJA. He said that photographers were told only to stand far from the room to take pictures. “I told [NEC official] that we could take pictures of Hun Sen and Hun Manet and why could we not do that here?” “I have media pass issued by NEC, why couldn’t I get inside to take pictures?”
CamboJA’s news association Editor Leila Goldstein was also banned by election workers from taking pictures in the Toul Sleng Primary School polling station in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Svay Prey I Commune.
“I was told in two different rooms/polling stations by election workers that I was not allowed to be in the room or take pictures,” she said.
Leila said the election workers asked her to leave the station, but she refused.
“I refused to leave and then they went and talked to the people in charge and then stopped bothering me,” she added.