The Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) has called on the authorities to do more to ensure journalists’ safety during the 2018 elections.
“For the upcoming elections, we don’t know whether they will be more or less tense, it is hard to say,” CCJ president Pen Bunna said on Friday, recalling the violent aftermath of the contested 2013 elections.
“We appeal to all political parties and all levels of authority to help to protect and keep journalists safe under all circumstances.”
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said it was already policy to protect journalists, but that reporters had a duty to keep themselves safe too.
“But it depends on the journalists themselves; everyone has to respect each other. It doesn’t mean that anyone who holds a press card can do whatever they like.”
Perhaps more than any other group, the Daun Penh district security guards were called out for their brutality in suppressing post-election protests and in some cases beating journalists.
Daun Penh District Governor Kouch Chamroeun blamed reporters for embedding “undercover” with protesters and not identifying themselves. Asked about Daun Penh security guards assaulting journalists, he simply said: “This is what they do, I will not elaborate.”
When asked why government forces had not faced prosecution for assaulting journalists, Siphan said security guard and police units preferred to mete out discipline behind closed doors.
Additional reporting by Jack Davies