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New community media – joining the community against HR violations and bridging the digital divide?

Thursday, October 24th, 2013


New community media is being used worldwide for different reasons and in different ways. As written in Cammaerst and Carpentier (2007), they are developed to meet local needs, by the community itself. In the case of, a homepage managed by the NGO Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), anyone can contribute with their own experiences and information or share news from other sources. It has been awarded with the Communication for Social Change award of Queensland University in 2013 and Information Society Innovation Fund in the category of Rights and Freedoms in 2011 ( 2013). In this post I will discuss its success in joining a big NGO community in the fight for human rights in Cambodia, also for those who do not have access to new technology. – a source of human rights information in Cambodia

This portal has two main purposes according to its About Sithi-page:


First, to encourage civil society organisations and others working on human rights in Cambodia to be more effective by providing information and resources to encourage greater professionalism, specialism and collaboration. Second, to provide information on the human rights situations in Cambodia to increase awareness and understanding of human rights in Cambodia in order to mobilize action to protect and promote them. ( 2013)


To get help in fighting HR-violations, information and evidence must be gathered and spread in order for the global community to act and donors to finance development programs in order to protect the citizens of Cambodia. The country hosts over 400 NGO’s ( but many have limited resources and are of course tied to the aims and financial restrictions of their donors. Many of these organization can upload their own content on, as long as it is connected to HR-work. There is a map of HR-violations, a free hotline phone number to call in news of violations or events and all information is accessible both in English and Khmer. This makes it possible for people that normally would not connect with social media due to language, economical, educational or infrastructural difficulties to actually get their experiences shared with the NGO’ and the local community – they get a voice online.


Bridging the digital divide?

But, is this way of connecting people and spreading information bridging the digital divide? I would say yes, and no. Civil society is today an important part of global politics (Lovink & Zehle 2005) but the voice of civil society is still not the voice of those affected by, for example, HR-violations or immense floodings caused by dams or climate change. Organizations like CCHR, founder of, actually don’t bridge the digital divide in the meaning of giving more people access to new technologies. However, they are doing something that may be  more important; they are giving marginalized people a chance to voice their experiences to the world and thus have access to the audiences on new media. As stated in Cammaerts and Carpentier this kind of new community media have a development-oriented function “in giving access to information and communication for the large parts of the world population that continue to live on the ‘other side’ of the digital divide’” (2007:253).


Cammaerts, B. and Carpentier, N. (eds) (2007) Reclaiming the media: communication rights and democratic media roles. Intellect: Bristol, UK.

Hemer, Oscar & Tufte, Thomas (2005) Media and Glocal Change. Rethinking Communication for Development. Buenos Aires: CLACSO. Online at:

Lovink, Geert & Zehle, Soenke (2005) the Incommunicado Reader. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.  Available online:

Pact Cambodia (2013). Retrieved at the 21/10 2013 (2013). Human rights information portal of Cambodia. Retrieved at the 14/10 2013.