Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Cambodia: Cambodian journalist who reported on illegal fishing murdered


The Cambodian Center for Human Rights ("CCHR") deplores the death over the weekend of journalist Suon Chan, of the Khmer language newspaper Meakea Kampuchea, in Cholkiri district, Kampong Chhnang province. His death is yet another affront to freedom of expression, and in particular to freedom of the press, in the Kingdom of Cambodia ("Cambodia"), where journalists are regularly targeted for their work and where a culture of impunity for these crimes reigns. According to the Phnom Penh Post, local authorities believe he was killed by a group of local fishermen, allegedly because of his work reporting on illegal fishing in the area.

Suon Chan is the twelfth journalist to have been killed in Cambodia and the first since Hang Serei Oudom was murdered in September 2012 in Rattanakiri province. The majority of these deaths have not been properly investigated, with the perpetrators still at large and rewarded with complete impunity for their crimes. CCHR urges the Royal Government of Cambodia (the "RGC") to ensure that a full and impartial investigation into Suon Chan's death is conducted and that the perpetrators are brought to justice, not only to ensure justice for Suon Chan's family but also to promote a culture of respect for and protection of journalists and their work.

CCHR Human Rights Defenders Project Coordinator Chhay Chhunly comments:

"On behalf of all the staff at CCHR, I should like to express my sincere condolences to Suon Chan's family. This case reminds us that the situation of freedom of expression - and particularly freedom of the press - in Cambodia is dire: journalists are regularly harassed, brought to court under politically-motivated charges, and, sadly, killed. But Suon Chan's death indicates not only a rampant disregard for freedom of expression, but also a widespread culture of impunity, where people can resort to committing murder, knowing that they will probably never be brought to justice. A transparent investigation into his murder is absolutely necessary; without one, the situation for journalists will only continue to deteriorate."