Cambodian Journalism Review


Access to Information, Freedom From Fear Essential to Journalists
February 5, 2008, 9:58 am
Filed under: Press Freedom

Letter to the editor

The Cambodia Daily, 4 February 2008

 

 Access to Information, Freedom From Fear Essential to Journalists

 

           I’d like to add some other concerns of press freedom in Cambodia to the article “Association Reports Mixed Bag for Press Freedom,” Jan 31, page 25.

         Apart from legal and physical threats against journalists, many other challenges face Cambodian media professionals including the lack of a freedom of information law, self-censorship and the culture of impunity concerning violations against members of the press.

         Cambodian journalists work in an environment of high secrecy and a lack of transparency due to an absence of an access to information or a freedom of information law.

         Reporters thus find it almost impossible to get information or documents related to Cambodia’s oil exploration, land disputes and land swaps between the government and private companies. Often, sources refuse to comment or answer phone calls, or important information simply is not available.

         Meanwhile, many journalists still exercise self-censorship by avoiding stories that can put their lives at risk. Therefore, many important stories are never reported.

         Once in a while, journalists or media organizations push the limit on Cambodia’s most sensitive stories such as illegal logging, high-level corruption and other wrongdoings.

         Many journalists have suffered a boomerang affect as a result, including physical attacks and lawsuits. Such attacks and threats are possible because of the continuing culture of impunity and the weak judicial system.

         If Cambodia is to transform itself into a mature democracy that promotes free press, the government must adopt a freedom of information law and bring the perpetrators of crimes against journalists to justice.

 
Moeun Chhean Nariddh

Phnom Penh

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