Report on Roundtable Discussion on " Cambodian Lawmakers Urge Media to be careful with Freedom of Expression "

13Roundtable Discussion On “Cambodian Lawmakers Urge Media to be careful with Freedom of Expression” 

Phnom Penh (11 Feb, 2011): Cambodian lawmakers on Friday urged media to pay attention on existing laws involving with media so that they can avoid any national unrest and their punishment.

Speaking in his session on “Promoting Freedom of Expression: Liberalization of the Media ” at a roundtable discussion organized by Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ), H.E Dr. PEN Pannha, Chairman of the Commission on Legislation and Justice of the Cambodian Parliament, said media must report based on truth, fairness, and ethical and professional responsibility.

“Media coverage must be based on news sources and even though writing opinion like editorials and columns, journalists shall have facts to justify their analysis. You cannot show your own opinion in the articles leading to incitement and generating public anger and unrest. Media must build up their confidence among the public,” he said.

Speaking to about 60 journalists and several parliamentarians, including representative of Konrad Adenauer Stifstung (KAS) in Cambodia, Dr. Pannha said “Since the penal code comes into effect, the media should pay more attention to their profession in order to participate in strengthening the rule of law. It would be regretful if the media do not make enough effort to understand well about all of the provisions of new penal code.”

Sharing her view at the discussion, Ms. Rabea Brauer, KAS Country Representative in Cambodia, said KAS is so proud that the KAS supports the discussion on such an important issue between the parliament and Media in Cambodia.

Speaking in her opening remarks, she touched upon the UN Human Right Convention in 1946 on rights of citizens for free speech and free press, part of generating the respect of human rights and promoting democracy and Press Freedom.

 

She reflected the importance of press freedom for a democracy.

Mr Prach Sim, CCJ Secretary General, said the topic of the discussion is very important and very sensitive for the country and CCJ is very proud that a group of high ranking officials of the National Assembly gathered here with media people to discuss such sensitive issue.

“It is said that media is important in the country and it is protected by the constitution, press law, and other legislation but in the real practice, journalists have been threatened and arrested. Therefore, the discussion is very important for journalists to hear the voice of the lawmakers today,” he said.

Regarding the media restriction, Dr Pannha said the press freedom shall go along with responsibility. Thus restriction is also needed in order for the media to take responsibility.

The discussion supported KAS was also attended by Mr. Matthias Wagner, Senior Advisor to the Secretary General National Assembly of the Cambodia. He shared the EU experiences on laws and press freedom. Matthias said the meeting was really crucial for brining the Cambodian Parliament and the Media closer to discuss the issue on news and information. He also said if there is a quarterly based meeting, it would be great for close cooperation and more understanding between media and the parliament.