PEC endorses demand of Cambodian CSOs, ensuring safety to journalists

By: NJ THAKURIA

Geneva: Press Emblem Campaign, the global safety and media rights body, endorses the statement of Cambodian civil society organizations (CSO) on the occasion of ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ (2 November 2021) for ensuring safety and security to all working journalists in the south-east Asian country and urged the Cambodian government in Phnom Penh to allow the media persons to perform their duties without any fear and trepidations.

According to a group of CSOs, the tiny nation has lost at least 17 journalists to assailants since 1994, where the scribes were targeted mostly because of their works. Shockingly, perpetrators in 12 cases are yet to be brought to justice. Moreover, the incidents of persecution against journalists are also increasing while over 80 media persons were targeted in 2021 till date. Among them over 30 were arrested, 20 subjected to violence, 8 faced judicial harassment, etc.

Crimes against journalists are egregious and constitute a real threat. When they are targeted for their works, the freedom of expression is undermined. With more to it, if the concerned authority fails to investigate and punish the culprits against journalists, it sends a wrong message to the society, asserted the statement endorsed by Cambodian Association for Protection of Journalists, Cambodian Center for Independent Media, Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association, Cambodian Center for Human Rights, etc.

Days back, the PEC raised the demand for justice to all victim journalists around the world and opined that observation on the journo-impunity day would be fruitful only if the culprits, who killed, abused or threatened media persons, are booked under the law of respective nations. Till date, not less than 66 journalists (2 more than last year in 10 months) have been killed this year across the world, where Afghanistan and Mexico remain the most dangerous countries for working journalists.

“There is no progress for the safety of media workers and often the assassins of journalists get away with murders. No crime should go unpunished, particularly in case of sentinels of the society,” said PEC secretary-general Blaise Lempen, adding that no one has been held to account in 81% of journalist murders during the last 10 years. The United Nations had already urged member countries to implement definite measures countering the culture of impunity and promote a safe environment for scribes, stated Lempen.

Philippines in the south-east Asian region emerged as a risky nation for journalists, where most of the killers go unpunished. The island nation lost three media persons namely Renante Rey Cortes (killed on 22 July), Gwenn Salamida (17 August) and Orlando Dinoy (30 October) to assailants this year, said PEC’s south-east Asia representative Nava Thakuria adding that the media fraternity continues to face harassments from various agencies in the region, especially in Myanmar (Burma) where over 20 journalists are still behind bars.

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