Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Politics behind journalists' deaths

Politics behind journalists' deaths

Politics behind journalists' deaths

121026_05

The body of journalist Hang Serei Oudom is examined by investigators in Ratanakkiri province. His corpse, which police said bore wounds probably inflicted by an axe, was found in the trunk of his car. Photograph supplied

Twelve journalists have been killed in Cambodia since 1993, according to a report from the rights group Adhoc, which believes much of the bloodshed was politically motivated.

The body count was included in a round-up of abuses against the media in a report the group released on Wednesday.

In addition to the slayings, the tally included the names of 17 journalists who received death threats, 12 who have been imprisoned and one injured in what the group deemed revenge for his work.

“Most of the journalists were killed because of their [perceived] political tendencies,”  Adhoc senior investigator Chan Soveth said yesterday.

Members of the media had also been killed or threatened for daring to probe government corruption, deforestation and the illegal sale of natural resources, he said.

In recent years, fatal violence has ebbed and lawsuits that put journalists in prison have risen.

The list of murdered journalists, however, grew by one in September, when Hang Serei Oudom, a staffer at the Ratanakkiri province newspaper Virakchun Khmer, disappeared from his house when going out to meet a source.

Oudom’s body was found days later in the trunk of a car.

He had written several articles about illegal logging, although the Ratanakkiri Provincial Court ultimately charged a married couple he knew with premeditated murder. No date has been set for the trial.

Previously, there had not been a slaying since 2008, when reporter Khim Sambo was gunned down, along with his son, in a drive-by motorbike shooting.

A year later, Hang Chakra, owner of the Khmer Mchas Srok newspaper, was sentenced to a year’s jail and fined for publishing a “fake report”.

Chakra told the Post the media-freedom situation in Cambodia appeared to be in good shape on the surface.

“Now they’ve stopped filing complaints about incorrect reports, but they file incitement charges,” he said.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan insisted the journalism sector was progressing well and had kept apace with government training of hundreds of officials in how to be spokesmen so as to interact with the media.

“Information isn’t pre-examined [by the government] before being published in our country,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially

  • American convicted of raping boy, 10, in Siem Reap

    A 79-year-old American man was sentenced to one year in prison for raping a 10-year-old boy by Siem Reap Provincial Court on Wednesday. John Paul Zollbrecht, of Washington state, was sentenced to one year in prison while a Cambodian man who helped facilitate the abuse, 23

  • Cambodia: From pet project to problem child

    As international condemnation began to pour in earlier this month lambasting the Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve the country’s largest opposition party, ruling party elites were quick to ask: Why us? In an op-ed published by the Khmer Times, ruling Cambodian People’s