The violent attack by authorities against journalists covering events at Freedom Park on April 21 is yet another indication of the government’s continued unwillingness to respect the freedoms of expression, assembly and information enshrined in the Cambodian constitution. The Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) condemn this attack and all forms of violence against journalists and calls for an immediate halt to the use of violence and intimidation against members of the press.
During the April 21 crackdown, as opposition lawmaker Mou Sokhour attempted to make a speech at Freedom Park, security guards followed orders to beat anyone taking photographs — an order that caused great risk for reporters and photojournalists on the scene. As a result, journalist Kung Raiya of Kampuchea Rikreay was beaten on his head and body. He was only saved from serious injury by a helmet, which itself was broken by the force of the attack. Security forces continued to beat Mr. Raiya even after he produced his press identification card, blatantly disregarding his constitutional and human rights.
These continued and open violations of reporters’ rights occur because the perpetrators are protected by a culture of impunity, said CCIM Executive Director Pa Ngoun Teang.
“It becomes a pattern that journalists are attacked and no one is held responsible. Since 1994, at least 12 journalists have been killed in the line of duty and none of them has received justice yet,” Mr. Teang said. “The Cambodian government is not doing enough to protect journalist and promote freedom of expression.”
The April 21 crackdown is just the latest in a recent upsurge of violence against journalists. As reported by the Club of Cambodian Journalists earlier this week, two journalists were attacked between April 10 and 12 due to their reporting on illegal logging. CCJ reported that military police beat Mr. Sorn Mongkul of Kampuchea Thmey newspaper after he photographed them with a haul of suspected illegal luxury wood in Preah Vihear Province. In a separate incident, Mr. Sem Bona from Chhantak Khmer newspaper was beaten by two unknown assailants while reporting on illegal logging in Kampong Cham.
As part of our commitment to uphold press freedom in Cambodia and across Southeast Asia, CCIM, RSF and SEAPA demand an immediate halt to government-sanctioned violence against journalists and call for a thorough investigation into the attacks against Mr. Raiya, Mr. Mongkul and Mr. Bona.
[Repost from the Cambodian Center for Independent Media]
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