Newspaper journalist shot and killed

New York, September 30, 2008–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Thai authorities to launch an immediate investigation into the shooting death of Jaruek Rangcharoen, a journalist with the daily Thai-language newspaper Matichon.

Jaruek was shot and killed on September 27 in a market in the Don Chedi district of Thailand’s western Suphanburi province, according to the Thai Journalists Association, a local press freedom advocacy group.

The association said in a statement that the murder was believed to be linked to Jaruek’s reporting on corruption issues in a local administrative organization, and that he had previously expressed his fear to provincial Governor Somsak Phurisrisak that people were plotting against him.

Local police have not yet commented publicly on the case. CPJ continues to investigate to determine if Jaruek’s murder was clearly related to his work as a journalist.

“The murder of Jaruek Rangcharoen is another disturbing indicator of the disintegration of law and order and protection of press freedom in Thailand’s provincial areas,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We call upon the relevant national Thai authorities to swiftly bring the perpetrators in this case to justice.”

Jaruek is the third Thai journalist to be killed in the past two months. Atiwat Chaiyanurat, also a reporter with Matichon, was shot to death in his home on August 1 in the southern Thai province of Nakorn Sri Thammarat. Shortly before his death, he had reported on local corruption and a police manhunt for an alleged assassin who had arrived in the area in the run-up to a local election.

Chalee Boonsawat, a reporter with the country’s largest Thai-language daily, Thai Rath, was killed on August 21 while covering an explosion in Thailand’s violence-plagued southernmost provinces bordering Malaysia, where Muslim insurgents and government forces have been locked in a violent struggle over autonomy issues since 2004.