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Police attempt to stop journalists from photographing land dispute

(SEAPA/IFEX) - Two journalists who were reporting on a land dispute in a village were harassed by police for taking pictures of the incident, according to the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ), a SEAPA partner based in the capital Phnom Penh.

On 30 January 2008, journalists Chum Sophal and Kong Sopheak, from the local newspapers "Khmer Mchas Srok" and "Solanh Khmer", respectively, went to Au Andong village in Prek Pra commune, Meanchey district, to cover the confrontation between two major companies, Phanimex and Sok Kong Import Export Co Ltd, and the villagers.

As Sopheak was photographing police in the act of removing the poles that demarcated the land in dispute, the police got angry and shouted at them, ordering that the photos be deleted. They did not press the matter when Sopheak refused to hand over his camera, according to CAPJ, who said that most of them were drunk.

Land disputes and forced evictions are an ongoing problem in Cambodia. As they are often accompanied by violence, authorities try to prevent media and human rights workers from monitoring or reporting on evictions as they happen.

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