Every year, the Cambodian journalists along with the journalists in the region and the world gather to celebrate the World Press Freedom Day May 03, which is very meaningful not only for the journalists but also for the people at all levels in Cambodia and the world. The journalists perform their duty as the professional media practitioners to reflect the importance of their freedom and look at the situation of the press freedom during the last year to work together to find a solution to ensure that the journalists can do their job with dignity and free from any intimidation, threats, or violence.
This year, UNESCO celebrates the World Press Freedom Day with the themes of empowerment and access to Information, seeing the important role played by the journalists and the media. UNESCO realizes that the democracy and development will not go smoothly if the citizens in the society do not have access to politically impartial, accurate and independent information. In this sense, the media play a crucial role to empower the people by providing plenty of useful information which can be used to fully control their own life.
The Club of Cambodian Journalist which closely monitors the media coverage and situation, finds out that during the last year, the Cambodian journalists and media make invaluable contribution to make society a change for the better through giving information in various forms and contents such as corruption, illegal land grabbing, and human rights violations. At the same time, the Cambodian media work actively as the fourth parliamentary election which is scheduled for 27 July 2008, is approaching, and everybody recognizes that accurate and impartial information is very necessary for the people to vote for their representatives and to enable them to fully control their life and future.
This year, the World Press Freedom Day sees different comments on the situation of the press freedom in Cambodia. However, when we look at the situation of the press freedom in the region and the world, we will see the positive image of the press freedom in Cambodia.
86 journalists were killed in 2007, mostly in North Africa and Middle East, but no Cambodian journalist was killed, according to Reporters without Borders. Cambodia was ranked 85 by the organization among the 169 countries in its survey on the press freedom. The Cambodian press freedom is the best, compared with the situation of the press freedom of the other countries in South-East Asia.
The ranking and assessment please us but they also remind that we have to make more effort to have a better ranking for Cambodia. According to the monitoring done by the Club of Cambodian Journalists from 03 May 2007 to 03 May 2008, there have been 07 lawsuits in the hand of the Cambodian courts, and 11 cases of threats against journalists while they have been performing their work. In the same period of last year, there were 7 lawsuits and 11 cases of threats against the journalists.
However, the Club of Cambodian Journalists finds out that the insistent needs of journalists for them to work effectively are to be free to report, to have access to information, and favorable working condition which is free from political and economic pressure.
On this World Press Freedom Day, the Club of Cambodian Journalists would like to stress on two important issues to quickly improve the access to information in Cambodia; the establishment of spokesperson system in various ministries and state institutions and the adoption of law on the access to information. At the same time, we shall also pay attention to the working and living condition of the journalists because most of the journalists earn low salaries on which they can not live in dignity and most of the favorable conditions stated in the labor law have not been implemented for the interest of the journalists. Therefore, the Club of Cambodian Journalists appeal to the media companies to pay more attention to the working condition and salaries of their journalists.
On this World Press Freedom Day, the Club of Cambodian Journalists would like to express its condolence to the families of the 86 journalists and 20 media assistants who were killed in 2007. And we ask for the release of 67 journalists whose were kidnapped, and ask for justice and release of 887 journalists who were arrested. They were killed, kidnapped, and arrested while they were performing their job to serve the human-beings in various places of the world.
Phnom Penh, 02 May 2008