The Club of Cambodian Journalists has condemned the alleged beating by military police of three journalists while were covering illegal logging and called for the government to open an investigation and take legal action.
In a statement published on Friday, the CCJ voiced its concern for the safety of reporters and the future of freedom of expression in the country.
“The activity of the authorities and traders [is] a serious threat against the spirit and safety of journalists who are fulfilling their duties professionally,” the statement reads.
“The intention is to obstruct their freedom of expression as well as directly stymie the democratic process in Cambodia.”
Several recent cases have highlighted the risks journalists face when reporting on illegal logging.
Sorn Mongkul, a journalist with the Kampuchea Thmey newspaper, was allegedly severely beaten on April 10 by deputy national military police commander Lay Sopheap and Kong Thearith, an assistant to Preah Vihear provincial military police, according to reports.
The following day, TV 9 reporter Hun Samun was allegedly beaten in custody while covering logging in Pursat province. On April 12, Chantak Khmer reporter Sem Bona was severely beaten by security forces.
“The club would like to condemn the perpetrators and call for law enforcement institutions concerned in Cambodia to look into the case and bring them to court to offer real justice for the victims,” the CCJ said.
Kheng Tito, spokesman for the military police, said he recognised that military police have, on occasion, used violence against journalists.
But, he added, authorities would have to investigate these three cases in order to ascertain what happened.
“I am not denying [the military police might be in the wrong],” he said. “But I have to do an investigation.”
At least eight journalists have been killed in Cambodia since 1992, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.