In its first annual “Cambodian Journalism Situation Report 2020”, published on March 29, CamboJA detailed the various cases of harassment and threats journalists faced while doing their job, with at least 31 out of 72 journalists arrested after being either attacked or threatened with violence while exercising their press freedoms throughout the year.
The most common types of harassment were imprisonment and violence, with journalists noted as being ‘unfairly targeted for exercising their legal rights and freedom in reporting stories’. At least 31 journalists were imprisoned [about 43 per cent of cases] and 22 journalists were either attacked or threatened with violence while on duty.
The executive director of CamboJA, Nop Vy, said: “This finding shows that journalists who dare to cover and report on the interests of military and powerful officials are still being persecuted through judiciary system that uses criminal law instead of press law and have been repeatedly beaten and subjected to violence.”
Cambodia’s Criminal Code is a legal tool often used to intimidate and jail journalists and allows for journalists to be arrested without a warrant. CamboJA called on the government to ensure the safety and security of all journalists so that they can exercise their rights to freely report without fear. The 28-page report also provided a broad range of recommendations and key areas of action.
The CamboJA said: “Theongoing imprisonment, detention and physical threats against journalists undermines the media’s role in a democratic society and strikes fear in those who cover stories or cases involving powerful officials.”
The IFJ said: “The Cambodian government should cease using the Criminal Code to target journalists. Journalism is not a crime.”