The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins IFJ affiliate, the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ) to condemn the brutal slaying of Cambodian journalist Suon Chan, who was set upon by a group of fishermen as he left his house in Cholkiri district’s Peam Chhkork commune on January 31.
According to commune police, the 44-year-old reporter for the Khmer language Meakea Kampuchea newspaper in Kampong Chhnang province’s Cholkiri district had reported on illegal fishing in the local commune in the lead-up to his death. Cambodian media also reported that Chan had been photographing and reporting on the use of large electric rods to kill fish in conservation areas.
CAPJ said Chan was on his way home when he was attacked with stones and bamboo sticks in the violent onslaught. He received medical treatment in a provincial hospital but died of his injuries as he was transported to a Phnom Penh hospital.
Chan is the 12th journalist to be killed in Cambodia and the first since Virakchun (Hero) Khmer Daily journalist Hang Serei Oudom was brutally murdered in an axe attack in Rattanakiri province in September 2012.
“The four suspects who were identified by the police have now have escaped from the village,” said CAPJ president, Um Sarin. “The suspects live in the same commune as Chan. Chan was attacked by stones and bamboo sticks.”
“The CAPJ urges authorities to conduct an immediate investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice. Those who report the facts and disseminate news to help people make informed decisions should never come to harm because of their job”.
The IFJ is deeply concerned about journalist safety in Cambodia in recent weeks, following an attack by Cambodian authorities on an AFP photographer during a peaceful protest on January 27. The demonstration, led by president of independent station Radio Beehive FM Mr Mom Sonando, was held to demand a TV license and an expansion of radio frequency.
“These recent incidents present a worrying picture on the ability of the press in Cambodia to report without fear and clearly signals the need for Cambodia’s government to reestablish its commitment to freedom of the press,” IFJ Asia Pacific director Jacqui Park said.
“The authorities must bring these killers to justice immediately in order to make a clear statement that these types of attacks will not be tolerated and that violent acts of retribution against journalists are never acceptable.”
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