Friday, 18.7.2008: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia Issued a Statement to Address the Impunity of Murderers and Attempts to Murder Journalists

Posted on 19 July 2008. Filed under: Week 569 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 569

“On 16 July 2008, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [OHCHR] in Cambodia issued an official statement with the title ‘The Murder of Khim Sambo, a Journalist of Moneaksekar Khmer, and of His Son’ on 11 July 2008. This statement has raised, in many paragraphs, the issues of press freedom, and of impunity for criminals. It started by sharing sadness as follows:

“The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia expresses its concerns and sadness about the murder of Mr. Khim Sambo and of his son, Khat Sarinpheata, on 11 July 2008 in the center of Phnom Penh. The OHCHR would like to share sad condolences with the family, friends, and colleges of the victims, and would like to join with others to express our sadness about their death with all who mourn together.

“While it is too early to decide whether his murder is related to articles that he had written, there is a certain context, raising the suspicion that ‘His work might be a reason for his murder.’

“Mr. Khim Sambo was an experienced journalist working with Moneaksekar Khmer which is oriented towards the Sam Rainsy Party, which is in the opposition.

“OHCHR stressed the following in the statement:

“By not thinking about the reasons for this murder, one could not influence the public view that causes fear of politics among the citizens and in their feelings. Therefore, it is very important that the authorities of the government investigate this case soon, fully, and dependably, and bring the criminals to be sentenced to the court, to resolve all doubts about this murder. Such action would be an assurance, better than anything else in the context of impunity, which still continues for the murderers of journalists in the past, with the impression that criminals are above the law, and journalists are not protected.

“The murder on a journalist is a denial of the basic right of the freedom of expression. A murder during the parliamentary election campaign towards the 27 July 2008 throws a shadow on the election campaign, where there had not yet been any serious violations so far, compared to previous elections. This murder not only destroyed the victim’s family, friends, and colleges, but it also destroyed newspapers, the journalists’ community, rights and freedoms of expression, and it destroyed as well the possibility of a proper participation by opposition parties in Cambodia.

“The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia recently noticed that violations against journalists had decreased significantly, compared to the 1990ies. More disputes with journalists are now solved by the courts, but regrettably, activities from criminals still continue stronger than the use of civil courts actions against destructive activities. This murder causes fear that journalists become shooting targets for murderers again.

“It is indispensable to secure the right to freedom of expression, based on the Constitution, where the authorities protect the journalists from violence; but defamation cases have been approached through criminal lawsuits rather than through civil court actions. The freedom of expression for anyone, to be used peacefully and freely, contributes to publicly discuss concerns in society – this is a key condition to develop a democratic environment.

“The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia is ready to cooperate with the Ministry of Information and other relevant institutions as well as with other concerned people to find what should be done to strengthen, to promote, and to protect the peaceful implementation of the rights of the freedom of expression and of press freedom, that are recognized by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

“Information background: Impunity – murders and attempt of murders of journalists in the past:

“The murder of Mr. Khim Sambo is similar to eight other murders and attempts of murder of journalists in Cambodia since 1994 – in all cases the criminals still continue to live happily with impunity. Those cases are:

“Mr. Nuon Chan, editor-in-chief of Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, was shot dead by two people riding on a motorcycle in Phnom Penh on 7 September 1994.

“Mr. Sao Chandara, a journalist of Koh Santepheap, was shot dead on 8 December 1994 in Kompong Cham. A military official was sued, but not sentenced, and he was free from any punishment. The Appeals Court decided to file an appeal against this decision to absolve him from punishment, but the appeal was not filed at the Supreme Court.

“Mr. Ek Mongkol, a reporter of Radio FM 90 MHz, was shot with many bullets while he was driving along a road in the center of Phnom Penh on 21 October 1995. He survived the shooting.

“Mr. Thun Bunly, editor-in-chief of Udom Katte Khmer was shot dead by two people ridding on a motorcycle in Phnom Penh on 18 May 1996. Half an hour before he was murdered, he told a friend that he was worried about his safety. In 1995, he had been accused and sentenced twice on accusations of publishing many articles criticizing the Royal Government.

“Mr. Leng Sam Ang, editor-in-chief of Kumnit Koun Khmer, was hit and shot by police on 2 January 1997. He survived the attack.

“Mr. Michael Senior, a freelance photographer who was originally Khmer, was shot dead by soldiers when he attempted to take pictures of many soldiers who were stealing goods in a market in Phnom Penh on 8 July 1997.

Additional Background Information

Tragedy in Cambodia hits home – A 23-year-old Canadian was among those killed in last months fighting in Cambodia

PORT MOODY, British Columbia/Canada — Cambodia’s tragedy was brought home when a 23-year-old Cambodian, adopted and raised by a Port Moody couple, was killed July 8 1997. Michael Senior ran afoul of rampaging soldiers in Phnom Penh.

A memorial service was held 12 July 1997 at Peter and Judy Seniors’ place of worship, Hillside Community Church in Coquitlam, when family members spoke about Michael and several representatives of the Cambodian community shared their thoughts about the crisis in Cambodia.

“Michael had just gone out of his apartment,” explains his father. “He had a still camera. He saw some soldiers looting stores, and started taking pictures. One of the soldiers shot him in the leg.

“His wife heard the shot, and came out. He was speaking in Cambodian, telling the soldiers he was sorry for taking the pictures. He and his wife started begging for mercy. The soldiers shot him in front of his wife, and she had to run for her life.”

“We had her flown out of there the next day,” says Judy Senior. Srey-Pov Senior and her daughter Nina, nine months, arrived in Canada soon afterward and met Michael’s parents for the first time. The family attended a Cambodian memorial service 26 July 1997 at Fraserview Alliance Church in Vancouver. “It would be dangerous for Srey-Pov to go back,” Judy says. “We’re hoping she’ll be able to stay in Canada.”

“Mr. Thong Uy Pang, editor-in-chief of Koh Santepheap was shot in Phnom Penh on 8 June 1998, but he survived the injury. Last year two grenades were thrown into this newspaper’s office.

“Mr. Chuo Chetharith, reporter of Radio Ta Prum was shot dead when he arrived at his workplace, by two people riding on a motorcycle, on 18 October 2003.

“Meanwhile, three other journalists died from violence, cases that have not been solved – Mr. Tou Chhom Mongkol, editor-in-chief of Antarakum died on 11 June 1994; Mr. Pich Em, technician of National Television of Cambodia in Sihanoukville, died on 5 May 1997; and Mr. Ou Sareoun, a journalist of Samleng Reas Khmer was also killed.

“The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Charge of Human Rights in Cambodia agreed with analysts that impunity is the one major barrier which destroys the rule of law in Cambodia. In most cases when journalists were shot dead, the authorities always said that investigations are being continued, or are not yet finished, or have achieved little results. As a consequence – according to the OHCHR, no criminals have been brought to court to be punished for these crimes.” Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3362, 18.7.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 18 July 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1696, 18.7.2008

  • Cambodia and Thailand Wait for a Result of Negotiations on 21 July 2008
  • Konrad Adenauer Foundation Was Asked to Continue to Help Cambodia [it uses Khmer human resources for 90% of its work to develop the country; this request was made during a meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Mr. Wolfgang Meyer, representative of the organization, finishing his mission in Cambodia]
  • Korea International Cooperation Agency – KOICA – Helps to Construct More than 14 km of a Road in Chea Lea and Sambour Communes, Batheay District [Kompong Cham]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #201, 18.7.2008

  • Khmer Soldiers from Two Regions [Battambang and Siem Reap] Are Sent to the Disputed Area; More Thai Para Soldiers Are Also Added


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #52, 18.7.2008

  • Nearly 500 Thai Soldiers Continued to Come into Khmer Land at the Preah Vihear Temple Region
  • Civil Society Organizations Call to Stop Violence during Election Campaign
  • Export of Garments Increase in 2008 [according to Mr. Mean Sophea from the Garment Export Department of the Ministry of Commerce, there is a 5% increase during the period of six months in 2008, and it will continue to rise up to 10% by the end of this year]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6400, 18.7.2008

  • [Khmer] Fishery Official Was Shot Dead [by Vietnamese navy] and Another Official Has Been Arrested in [the Khmer] Sea when They Stopped an [illegal] Yuon [Vietnamese] Fishing Boat [then the Vietnamese navy intervened there was shooting – 17 July 2008 – Kampot]
  • Thailand Continues Increasing Troops; Thai Protesters Who Tried to March to the Preah Vihear Temple Were Blocked by [Thai] Pro-Government Personnel [17 July 2008 – Sisaket Province]
  • [14-year-old] Girl Disappeared, Five Days Later Her Body Was Found in the Jungle; She Had Been Raped and Killed by Breaking Her Neck [Kompong Cham]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3515, 18.7.2008

  • If the Accused Can Talk to Each Other in Detention, It Might Affect the Investigation at the Khmer Rough Tribunal [but a co-lawyer of the former Khmer Rouge leader Mr. Nuon Chea, Mr. Son Arun, said recently that if the court would allow the five accused to sit and talk to each other two or three times per week, it might improve their health and help to release their stress and their hopelessness, so that this special court might finish the process with more success]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4644, 18.7.2008

  • Thailand Still Builds Up Its Troops at the Border; [Thai Prime Minister] Samak: The Three Thai People [who entered Cambodia] Are Provokers; the Thai Army Commander-in-Chief [Anupong Paochinda] Orders Troops to Come Close to Borders; Thailand Mine Action Center [TMAC] Clears Mines Unilaterally
  • Cambodian Prime Minister [Hun Sen] Asked Thai Prime Minister [Samak Sundaravej] to Withdraw Troops from the Region at a Khmer Pagoda [through a letter dated on 17 July 2008]
  • MIG Masters Investment Group Co., Ltd [a Chinese company] Plans to Invest in Public Bus Transportation Sector in Phnom Penh


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3362, 18.7.2008

  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia Issued a Statement to Address the Impunity of Murderers and Attempts to Murder Journalists

Have a look at the last editorial – The struggle towards openness and access to information happens in many places – and it may help to mutually learn from other experiences.

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4 Responses to “Friday, 18.7.2008: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia Issued a Statement to Address the Impunity of Murderers and Attempts to Murder Journalists”

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[…] 19, 2008 VIA The Mirror: UNHCR speaks on the killing of veteran Moneaksekar Khmer reporter Khem Sambo, putting his name on a growing list of unsolved attacks against journalists. “The murder of Mr. […]

[…] Friday, 18.7.2008: The Office of the United Nations High …[Khmer] Fishery Official Was Shot Dead [by Vietnamese navy] and Another Official Has Been Arrested in [the Khmer] Sea when They Stopped an [illegal] Yuon [Vietnamese] Fishing Boat [then the Vietnamese navy intervened there was shooting … […]

[…] Friday, 18.7.2008: The Office of the United Nations High …[Khmer] Fishery Official Was Shot Dead [by Vietnamese navy] and Another Official Has Been Arrested in [the Khmer] Sea when They Stopped an [illegal] Yuon [Vietnamese] Fishing Boat [then the Vietnamese navy intervened there was shooting … […]

[…] Friday, 18.7.2008: The Office of the United Nations High …[Khmer] Fishery Official Was Shot Dead [by Vietnamese navy] and Another Official Has Been Arrested in [the Khmer] Sea when They Stopped an [illegal] Yuon [Vietnamese] Fishing Boat [then the Vietnamese navy intervened there was shooting … […]


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