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Journalists Angered by Repeated Violence During Demonstration Coverage

Cambodian journalists gathered at a media conference in Cambodia, file photo.
Cambodian journalists gathered at a media conference in Cambodia, file photo.
Numerous journalists have in recent weeks been beaten while trying to cover demonstrations outside Freedom Park. Journalists met on Tuesday to discuss options to challenge that violence.

At least one Cambodian journalist was hospitalized after security forces beat him during coverage of a demonstration May 2. A foreign journalist was also beaten by security forces employed by the city. And a VOA Khmer reporter had his smartphone snatched by security during a demonstration the day before.

Journalists here say the situation is unprecedented for its brazenness—though Cambodia has always been a dangerous country for journalists to work in.

“I’ve worked as a reporter since 1993, and I’ve never met that situation,” said Vong Sokheng, an editor at the Phnom Penh Post. “It scares journalists and makes them worry about their security in covering news in the field and gathering accurate news.”

He called on “all reporters to unite against all forms of violence.”

Violence against journalists has increased since the July 2013 elections, and the pro-opposition demonstrations that have followed.

Moeun Chheannarith, director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Studies, called on the international community to push the government to curb violence against journalists.

The Ministry of Information has condemned the violence against journalist, and Om Yentieng, head of the government’s Human Rights Committee, told reporters Tuesday the government does not condone such violence.

At least 10 journalists have been murdered here in the last 20 years, and never has a perpetrator been brought to justice.