Threats to Journalists: Cambodia

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  • On August 2011, the Co-Investigating Judges at the U.N.-backed Cambodian tribunal announced they had instituted “contempt of court” proceedings related to the VOA Khmer Service reports. The unsigned statement from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia cited VOA’s use of confidential court documents in a report broadcast on August 10 that identified potential new defendants.
  • In 2009, Sok Ratha and a Cambodian NGO staff member were accused of complicity in inciting violent protests by villagers involved in a land dispute with Cambodian authorities. The villagers were released on condition of publicly admitting mistake and ending the protest.  However, charges remain for Ratha and the NGO staff member, who have both been summoned to appear in court.
  • On June 15, RFA stringer/reporter Lem Pichpisey, the lead RFA GW reporter, was contacted by a source at the phone company who warned him that high level government officials were talking about threatening him and Radio Free Asia. Later that day Pichpisey received an anonymous call threatening him if he continued to be outspoken about the issue of logging in Cambodia.
  • In May 2007, after asking a challenging question of Prime Minister Hun Sen in a press conference, reporter Um Sarin of RFA was subject to threatening behavior by the bodyguards of the PM.
  • Ath Bonny reported in 2006 on widespread allegations that Prime Minister Hun Sen had ceded Cambodian land to Vietnam in a secret treaty. Bonny was tipped by friendly Cambodian government sources that he might be arrested because of his reports. RFA arranged for Bonny to work on Cambodian stories in Bangkok for several weeks until things calmed down.
  • VOA stringer Sok Pov fled into exile on two occasions for fear of reprisals for his reporting. In the most recent incident in late 2005, Prime Minister Hun Sen had him detained for questioning about his sources, which Pov protected. He left the country for Thailand shortly thereafter.
  • In October 2005, RFA reporter Sok Ratha was struck by an unidentified driver and dragged 100 yards while investigating an illegal logging operation with connections to the Cambodian army.  Though he escaped serious injury, Ratha has since received threats for his coverage of Montagnard refugees, judicial corruption, and government land grabs.
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