IFJ Accuses Cambodia Prime Minister Over “Climate of Fear” as Reporter is Shot Dead

The International Federation of Journalists today condemned the killing of a reporter in Phnom Penh and warned against the creation of a “climate of fear” by the country’s political leaders.

On 18 October, Chou Chetharith, a senior political editor of the royalist Funcinpec party's Ta Prum radio, was shot and killed by a gunman-riding pillion on a motorcycle. His shooting came only days after Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen accused the broadcaster of insulting his party.

“We welcome the comments of King Norodom Sihanouk who has condemned recent political killings,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, “but the Prime Minister is creating an atmosphere of intimidation against media by his intemperate outburst.”

The IFJ says that a deadlocked parliament has created instability that may see a repeat of the street violence five years ago when previous elections failed to produce a clear result. “This is the time to reduce the temperature,” said White. “Reckless comments by politicians will only make things worse for journalists.”

“Cambodia desperately needs reliable, professional information to create confidence in democracy and to resolve the current crisis. A climate of fear and intimidation will only drive this country backwards.”

The IFJ was responding to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ill-judged appeal to political leaders last week, in which he said: "I think the parties' leaders have to properly control the media stations to avoid any conflicts. Insults are not good ethics for the educated people."

“This sort of language is provocative and unhelpful,” said White.

The IFJ is calling on the Cambodian authorities to take action to investigate the crime and bring the perpetrators to justice.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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