Freedom House Calls for Investigation into Killing of Cambodian Environmental Activist

Freedom House is calling for an immediate and transparent investigation into the killing of Cambodian environmental activist Mr. Chut Wutty after a confrontation at a police checkpoint left both Wutty and a military police officer dead.  Wutty was traveling near a protected forest in a south-western province with two journalists from the Cambodia Daily newspaper at the time of the shooting.  Local reports suggest that upon reaching the police checkpoint the reporters were ordered to delete or surrender their cameras’ memory cards, which likely documented illegal logging, and that Wutty refused.  The circumstances leading to the shots being fired--and who is responsible for the killings--remain unclear.  The Cambodian Daily journalists accompanying Wutty were initially detained, but later released.

A leading anti-logging activist who helped expose illegal exploitation of Cambodia’s protected forests, and an outspoken critic of Cambodia’s military police, Wutty had reportedly received death threats in the past and was sometimes armed for self-defense while traveling.  Forestry and logging have been a key component of Cambodian economic growth in recent years, but have fallen prey to corruption by powerful foreign and local business investments and political interests.  Human rights groups in Cambodia have reported numerous cases of military personnel assaulting journalists attempting to photograph logging and other illicit activities, and several murder investigations of journalists as far back as 1993 have been left unsolved.

Cambodia is rated Not Free in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2012 and Freedom of the Press 2011 surveys.

Learn More:

Freedom in the World 2011: Cambodia
Freedom of the Press 2011: Cambodia