Cambodia: journalist assaulted by army commander
Sou Senghak, a local reporter for Samarakot News, was assaulted by an army commander after he inadvertently witnessed the alleged illegal transportation of timber. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association (CamboJA), in condemning the use of violence against the journalist and calls on the authorities to hold the author.
On August 20, Senghak attended an event near Battalion 394 barracks in Choam Ksan district of Preah Vihear when he saw a truck carrying a considerable amount of timber. about two cubic meters of wood.
Senghak suspected that the wood had been obtained illegally and considered stopping the truck to investigate. However, before he had a chance to do so, the battalion commander got out of the vehicle, approached Senghak, who was standing with his wife, and punched them both, causing them to bleed. Senghak’s nose.
Shortly after the assault, Senghak filed a complaint with the military police, but was later asked by Lt. Col. Yoeung Se to settle the matter out of court. On August 22, the journalist agreed to withdraw the lawsuit.
The commander involved in the incident defended his actions on the grounds that he believed Senghak was another journalist accused of extortion.
Senghak told CamboJA he believed the wood had been stored in the barracks for a long time, although he was unsure of its owner. He also noted that illegal logging occurs regularly in Cambodia, especially in the Preah Roka forest, close to where the incident happened.
Nop Vy, Executive Director of CamboJA, said: “Crimes against journalists undermine press freedom. It is the role of the government and the justice system to bring justice to the victim involved.”
The IFJ said: “The use of violence against journalists is an attack on press freedom. The IFJ condemns the attack on Sou Senghak and urges the authorities to take immediate action to hold the commander involved accountable.