CCIM condemns beating of VOD reporter, calls for investigation

Press Release
May 2, 2014, Phnom Penh

CCIM condemns beating of VOD reporter, calls for investigation

Voice  of Democracy  reporter  Lay Samean  remains  hospitalized  this evening  for injuries sustained  when he was severely  beaten  by security  forces  during  an election  campaign march in Phnom Penh today. The Cambodian Center for Independent Media and Reporters Without Borders condemn this act of violence in the strongest terms possible and calls on city  officials  to  launch  an  immediate  investigation  to  find  those  responsible  for  this disturbing attack.

“The  perpetrators  must  be brought  to justice,”  said  CCIM  Executive  Director  Pa Ngoun Teang. “We must end impunity for those who commit these brutal acts of violence against journalists.”

Samean temporarily lost consciousness during the attack, which involved at least 10 Khan Daun Penh security guards beating him with wooden sticks and kicking him in the head and hands. Samean suffered a broken cheekbone  and is currently being assessed for further damage by doctors at a Phnom Penh hospital.

The VOD reporter was covering a peaceful march by CNRP supporters marking the start of the district  and provincial  council  election  campaign.  As the procession  approached  the Night Market on Sisowath Quay, security forces violently cracked down on the participants. Samean was attempting to photograph several security guards in the act of beating a monk when  their  anger  turned  on him.  Security  forces  also  confiscated  Samean’s  phone  and recording equipment, which he had been using to document the attack.

“Cambodian security forces are too free to commit violence,” Teang said. “And journalists are too often the first targeted when the violence starts, putting them in incredible danger.”

Benjamin Ismaïl, head of the Asia-Pacific desk at Reporters Without Borders agreed.

"Cambodia  has fallen 27 positions  in the World Press freedom  Index over the past two years. The government  cannot deny its responsibility  in the growing insecurity  of media professionals  in  the  country.  When  its  security  forces  are  not  directly  responsible  for violence against journalists, the government itself remains passive in front of the attacks against  the  press.  Impunity  favors  self-censorship  and  hampers  the  development  of freedom of information in the country. We call for an immediate reaction of the government and concrete measures to protect the press," Ismaïl said.

Friday’s attack comes just one day ahead of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, a day set aside by the United Nations to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. CCIM calls on the Royal Government of Cambodia to honor the spirit of World Press Freedom Day by taking immediate steps to halt violence against journalists and to investigate  recent attacks on Samean and other journalists by the Khan Daun Penh security guards.

For more information, please contact:
Mr. Kaing Tongngy, Communications & Advocacy Officer
Tel :     +855 (0)60 411 777
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