Arson Attack on Reporter’s House Burns Cambodia’s Press Freedom

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemns the recent arson attacks upon the home of Phon Phat, reporter for Chbas Ka (‘Accurate’) newspaper, and labels the criminal act a serious blow to Cambodia’s press freedom.

According to IFJ affiliate, the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ), Phat’s house was set alight twice on August 10 and 17.

Prior to the attack, Phat allegedly received an anonymous phone call dictating the offer of a “gift” in response to his report on illegal logging activities in Pursat areas.

The attacks follow death threats issued to a radio journalist for Free Asia, Lem Piseth, which forced him to flee the country after his coverage of deforestation on June 13.

Similarly, French language Cambodge Soir news editor Soren Seelow was dismissed in June after he published a detailed article on environmental group Global Witness’ report Cambodia’s Family Trees, released on June 1.

The Ministry of Information allegedly banned any reproduction of the report, which accuses Prime Minister Hun Sen’s family members, business colleagues and other senior officials, including the Minister for Agriculture, Forestries and Fisheries, Chan Sarun, of illegal activities related to logging syndicate Seng Keang Company.

“These arson attacks constitute a serious infringement on the freedom of Cambodia’s press and the public’s right to know”, IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

The IFJ denounces the attacks as an attempt to hinder the Cambodian media’s freedom of expression, and echoes the CAPJ’s call for a full investigation.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries