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Media Groups Call On ‘Political Elite’ to Protect Reporters

October 19, 2013

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More than a dozen journalism and hu­man rights groups have called on Cambodia’s political forces to protect journalists and guarantee citizens’ access to an open and unobstructed press during the current political unrest.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, along with the Cambodia Institute for Media Studies, Southeast Asia Press Al­liance and the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel) is­sued their call to the “political elite”—demanding protection for journalists, promoting discipline among police forces and recognizing international standards of freedom of information.

Calling the National Election Committee “incompetent,” the organizations stressed the importance of post-election media coverage.

“In this uncertain political situation, Cambodian people need independent and reliable information to enable them to make decisions,” the statement reads. “Such needs can be fulfilled if the media workers have, on the one hand, a capacity to demonstrate their ethical and professional standards and, on the other hand, are protected and insured by a safe legal environment.”

Comfrel executive director Koul Panha said, “When journalists try to collect information during demonstrations they always have been disturbed or obstructed by authorities and there have also been injuries by the authorities.”

Both Mr. Panha and the statement cite the violent clash between anti-eviction protesters, police and an unruly mob last month at Wat Phnom.

“[The protest] had not only resulted in injuries among the protesters, but also among local and foreign journalists,” the statement reads. “The mob also destroyed the camera of a local news photographer. This incident prevented the media coverage of the violence and obstructed public’s rights to know.”

A member of the mob used a cattle prod to shock a Cambodia Daily reporter during the attack at Wat Phnom as uniformed police officers stood around. Read more at the Cambodia Daily.

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