Cambodian Journalism Review


With Similar Mandates, Media, NGOs Should Be Natural Allies
August 15, 2011, 2:39 am
Filed under: Press Freedom

With Similar Mandates, Media, NGOs Should Be Natural Allies

Letter to The Cambodia Daily, August 13, 2011

 It is very disturbing to read about the threat of a lawsuit by a local NGO against journalists for their perceived intention to report on the story behind its closure in Thursday’s front page article, “Government Suspends Land Rights NGO.”

First, as human rights advocates, we feel disappointed at the closure of this land rights NGO regardless of its alleged “wrongdoing” that prompted the government to shut it down.

Second, we are surprised that this threat has come from a human rights organization that is deemed to be a friend of the media.

In a sense, the media and human rights organizations are doing a similar job to promote the rights of victims and other vulnerable groups.

Apart from acting as a bridge between the government and the people, the media also represents the voice of the voiceless and, in some cases, are seen as “the court of the last resort” for the victims who try to seek redress of their grievances.

Because of the similarity in their work, both journalists and human rights activists often appear at the same place where an injustice is reported.

While trying to document or to report on any human rights violations, journalists and human rights advocates also need each other to witness abuse against themselves.

We understand the sensitivity of the information related to the closure of the land rights NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut. As professional journalists, we also understand our ethical responsibility to protect the victims. We would weigh between the public’s right to know and the possible harm to the victims to decide whether or not to report on a story.

I hope the threat against the journalists by Sahmakum Teang Tnaut was made out of misunderstanding.

I also hope that other human rights organizations will continue their good cooperation with the media and journalists.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh

Director

Cambodia Institute for Media Studies

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