Phnom Penh — On September 28, a group of four Cambodian journalists from PMN News, Chakrapop News and Eysan Post were attacked in Tbong Khmum province, according to a report by local news outlet CamboJA. First their car was battered; then they were chased by their assailants. Their car was run off the road, and they were beaten with sticks and axes. At least two of the journalists were left injured.
The attackers are suspected to be timber traders seeking revenge after the reporters had singled them out to police for committing forestry crimes, CamboJA quoted two of the reporters as saying.
The Overseas Press Club of Cambodia (OPCC) wholeheartedly condemns such violence against journalists. Journalists play an integral role in holding environmental exploiters to account. This should not be a dangerous job. Sadly, in Cambodia it has been.
The OPCC urges the relevant authorities to thoroughly investigate this attack and to commit to holding those who perpetrated the violence responsible for their actions.
The OPCC also notes with concern the sentencing of Sovann Rithy, the editor of online news outlet TVFB. He was convicted of incitement charges on October 5, and given a suspended sentence of time served (nearly six months in prison).
Rithy was arrested in April after quoting Prime Minister Hun Sen on his personal Facebook page, according to local outlet VOD.
Based on reported English translations of Rithy’s post and the prime minister’s speech, the post appears to be an accurate paraphrase of Hun Sen’s words.
The OPCC welcomes Rithy’s release from prison, but disagrees with the justifications for which he was jailed and sentenced. Regardless of the publishing medium, journalists should not be criminally prosecuted for reporting news, especially when reports are accurate, fair and balanced.
The OPCC looks forward to a day when journalists in Cambodia, and around the world, are able to pursue the truth, hold those in power to account, and illuminate challenging stories without fearing for their physical safety or freedom.