Around forty presidents of the journalists’ associations, the publishers, editors of the newspapers met in the Cambodian Editors’ Forum, held on December 29, 2006 in Siem Riep to discuss the issues facing the Cambodian journalists and what should be done by the media themselves to be more professional and catch up with the standard of the regional and global standards of journalism.
After a thorough discussion on the present situation of Cambodian media, the forum issued a joint declaration consisting of 12 points as follows:
- Since March 2006, defamation was no longer used to charge against journalists, but instead journalists are facing charges over dissemination of inaccurate information. Article 59, 60, 61 and 62 of UNTAC Law are often used to jail journalists, charging them with reporting inaccurate information. Therefore, CEF appeals to the National Assembly to modify any article that can be interpreted to arrest and detain journalists in the course of their professional work and demands that the competent authorities and courts stop interpreting any law to arrest or detain journalists for their reporting. Also, CEF fully supports Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recommendation in which Samdech guaranteed that not a single journalist will be arrested due to their expression in their reporting.
- CEF suggests modification over certain articles in the Press Law of 1995, especially Article 5 regarding access to information and request procedure. We also demand that a law on access to information be passed as soon as possible.
- Regardless of political, economic, philosophical and religious differences, journalists shall stand in solidarity to collectively address any problem when a journalist is arrested or detained during the course of their work. CEF condemns any torture against journalists and destruction of their equipment during the course of their work or during detention.
- Although serving different news organizations, a journalist shall serve the public interest other than individual and group’s interest. He or she shall play a watchdog role but not a referee or judge role.
- Journalists should not report based on their sentiment or persuasion contradictory to professionalism basis and truth. They should avoid reporting news, editorials and opinion columns that may lead to discrimination and incitement resul-ting in religious and racial conflicts. Journalists shall not use insulting words that discriminate against any individual and group. The reporting shall be based on proper sources to avoid any charge with incitement. For any news which is sensitive, both the news organisation and journalist shall base their reporting on proper sources as well as thorough verification to protect themselves from any counterclaim.
- Media have been generally accepted as playing a vital role in fighting against corruption and in promoting good governance, transparency and accountability. Therefore, journalists shall be well aware of this so that they can avoid any charge against them by the court with corruption and blackmail.
- CEF recognizes that privacy of the general public shall be respected, but that the privacy of the politicians, important figures and other celebrities who are public figures is the information of which the general public should be informed.
- Media shall not accept any commercials that the involved institutions ban and cheat the general public, such as commercial cheating the public that there is medicine to cure HIV/AIDS while it is widely known that HIV/AIDS is incurable.
- Being in a democratic society, journalists shall provide to the public with additional general knowledge to the best of their knowledge and encourage the people’s participation in the society for the sake of the people’s happiness and national development.
- Journalists have the right not to reveal the identities of their sources. However, in the case where there is a request from the court to reveal the identity of any source mentioned in their reporting regarding national stability, security, and terrorism, it is the right of the journalist and media organisation whether or not to reveal the identity of the source. Before making any decision, the journalist or media organisation shall take into thorough consideration the security of the source.
- CEF shall try its best to become a forum for Cambodian media practitioners and play the role to create and promote cooperation with journalists and media organizations worldwide in order to share experiences and gain new knowledge to enable Cambodian mediaâ€™s professionalism and wider cooperat-ion.
- CEF totally agrees and shall try to implement the points as mentioned in this declaration. CEF shall organize next editorsâ€™ forum to go on addressing difficulties and challenges facing journalist community and to strengthen good cooperation and solidarity among Cambodian journalist community.