After one-year, a group of Cambodian editor-in-chiefs and editors from different media organizations met again on 28-29 December 2007 in Sihanouk Ville to review the country’s annual media situation and to find a better way for freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the upcoming year. The so-called Editor Forum was organized by Club of Cambodian Journalists with support from Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
Speaking in his welcoming remark, Mr. Wolfgang Meyer, Head of Mission of Konrad Adenauer Foundation, said it is very good opportunity for senior Cambodian journalists to meet and discuss their key role and responsibility to promote freedom of the press, democracy, and human rights in the society. However, he expressed his disappointment over fact that there are too many journalists’ associations in Cambodia. We are so disappointed that the Cambodian journalists are still separated. We would like to urge the Cambodian journalists to have a unity and work together to promote democracy, freedom of the press and journalism quality.
Mr. Wolfgang also briefed the background of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation to the forum by saying that the foundation is a political body with political education on democracy, rule of law and human rights. Konrad in Cambodia, he said, works with the legislation and executive bodies and political parties obtaining seats at the national assembly — CPP, FUNCINPEC, and Sam Rainsy.
Mr. Pen Samitthy, President of Club of Cambodian Journalists, said in his opening remark that the meeting aimed at discussing the progress and the challenges the Cambodian journalists met in the previous year and how they can solve the problems together in the future. We have to work together to achieve our common goals — professional work and freedom of the press, including democracy and human rights like Mr. Wolfgang has said.
Taking this opportunity, Mr. Samitthy said, the participants can find a better way to strengthen the media ethics and self-monitoring in order to avoid or minimize the number of court cases involved with media reportings.
During the two-day meeting, the 34 senior journalists toughly discussed the issues of freedom of the press to find a solution that the media can fulfill their task freely without any interference from legal action. Three issues of the most important topics amongst the 12-point draft joint statement are: journalist punishment for their expression, accessing to information, and urging the government ministries to have their own spokespersons. The participants strongly urged the government and other institutions concerned, especially the court, not to take legal action by using penal code against journalists.
At the same time, the participants also discussed their self-regulation, especially the media ethics, to improve their professional work, gain more trust from the public, and reach both regional and international media standard. The participants promised to join again in 2008 editors’ Forum.
Phnom Penh, 29 December 2007