The aftermath of the killing of Koy Piseth in Phnom Penh on Sept. 29. (Photo: cambodiaexpatsonline)
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is demanding Cambodian authorities investigate the murder of prominent television journalist Koy Piseth, who was attacked while riding his motorbike last week.
IFJ general secretary Anthony Bellanger said ”the tragic murder of prominent journalist Koy Piseth” comes at a troubling time for journalists in Cambodia.
"Our deepest condolences go to Koy Piseth's family and colleagues. The IFJ calls on the Cambodian government to put in place stronger protections to ensure journalists’ safety,” Bellanger said in a statement.
News portal Cambodia News English said Koy Piseth, 24, was found after 2am on Sept. 29 on a street in Phnom Penh and quoted police as saying the attack was captured on CCTV.
It also published a photograph of Koy Piseth’s press pass and photographs of his body under a white sheet near his crashed motorbike.
The IFJ noted a source from the Por Sen Chey district military police said that police had viewed footage from a security camera and saw that the victim was beaten by an unknown attacker from behind, causing him to fall and die instantly. The attacker then fled the crime scene.
However, Chorm Chav 3 commune chief Theng Kosal countered this evidence, claiming the journalist died in a traffic accident.
IFJ affiliate the Cambodian Association of Journalists also said it wanted the authorities to fully investigate the murder, while Nop Vy, executive director of the Cambodian Journalists Alliance, said the killer had taken advantage of the pandemic.
“When [the] Cambodian government and others have fought against the Covid-19 pandemic, murderers have been using this occasion [to] create harm for society by committed (sic) illegal actions and crimes,” he said.
“They have indicated that journalists who dare to report those cases are their enemies. Authority must take action seriously in order to guarantee that murderers have to be sentenced.”
The death occurred amid high tensions in Cambodia.
A government crackdown on the independent press and opposition politicians resulting in a wave of arrests has raised more than eyebrows, particularly among Western nations. Koy Piseth’s death was all but ignored in the government-friendly media.
At least 15 journalists have been killed in Cambodia since 1990.
In June, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged authorities to immediately release journalist Ros Sokhet and drop all pending charges of incitement against him after he was detained for apparently criticizing Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The CPJ has also defended journalist Sovann Rithy, who was also detained under Article 495 of the criminal code, a provision that penalizes “incitement to cause chaos and harm social security.”