Journalists in Cambodia face ‘censorship, threats and intimidation’, despite high press freedom ranking
Cambodia ranks highest for press freedom among its south-east Asian neighbours, according to Reporters without Borders’ 2011 Press Freedom Index. But journalists in the country repeatedly face censorship, threats, intimidation, suspicious “accidents”, defamation lawsuits, arrest and, sometimes, murder.
At least 10 journalists have been killed in Cambodia since 1993 (the year the government adopted a new constitution), says the human rights group Licadho.
The group’s research shows that shootings, grenade attacks and car “accidents” – many of them daylight incidents – are common causes of death.
The most recent high-profile case was the murder in 2008 of Khim Sambo. Just two weeks before the national elections and after criticising high-ranking officials in the incumbent Cambodian People’s party, the opposition-affiliated newspaper journalist was shot and killed by two men on a motorbike.
A 2009 Licadho report lists nearly 30 cases of threats, intimidation and physical attacks against journalists from January 2008 to March 2009. Reportedly, victims have been chased by gunmen on motorbikes; spied upon, received death threats by mail, text and phone, been ordered to cease broadcasting or publishing, been detained on charges of defamation or insult, and been beaten, often by government officials themselves.
Nearly 40 journalists were killed or listed as missing from the 1970-75 Cambodian war, among them the Time photojournalist Sean Flynn (son of Hollywood star Errol), thought to have been killed by the Khmer Rouge.