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Police prevent journalist from photographing demolition at pagoda

(SEAPA/IFEX) - District police prevented a reporter from taking pictures of the demolition of Buddha statues in a pagoda on the morning of 24 December 2007, reports the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists, a SEAPA partner based in the capital Phnom Penh.

So Visal, a reporter with "Voice of Democracy", an eight-hour community radio program run by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, was at first told to erase the digital photos he had taken of local authorities undertaking the demolition at Niroth Pagoda in Stung Mean Chey, an industrial neighbourhood on the southwestern outskirts of the capital. Despite complying, Visal had his camera and voice recorder confiscated and taken to the district police station where they were kept for three hours before they were returned to him, according to CAPJ.

SEAPA joins CAPJ in urging the Cambodian authorities to allow journalists to perform their duty of informing the people of events transpiring around them.

In preventing the journalist from recording the demolition of the Buddha statues, which authorities claimed were illegally built, the Stung Mean Chey police have violated the spirit of the 1995 Press Law, which stipulates no prior censorship of the press.

Some 95 percent of Cambodians are Buddhist.

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