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Calls to protect work of citizen journalists

Media experts are asking the government to consider granting citizen journalists the same safeguards as professional journalists under Cambodia’s Press Law.

During a forum hosted by the Cambodian Center for Independent Media at Sunway Hotel on the weekend, experts discussed the role of citizen journalists in delivering news.

Speaker Moeun Chhean Nariddh, president of the Cambodia Institute of Media Studies, said citizen journalists fill gaps left by professional journalists through offering first-hand information on stories happening in the community.

“Citizen journalists are media users even though they disseminate information through Facebook, YouTube or blogs,” Nariddh said. “They should also be regarded as journalists and be protected by the Press Law.”

Article 20 of the Kingdom’s Press Law says criminal acts committed by members of the press are punishable by law, but no professional journalist will be arrested or subject to criminal charges as a result of freedom of expression.

“It’s good if there’s a law to protect them because their primary concern is not … defaming anyone but instead, sharing knowledge that society needs to develop,” said Hang Meas HDTV deputy executive Meas Rithy.

With the impending release of the controversial cybercrime law, Kampong Chhnang citizen journalist Kim Seng said he is worried for his safety when sharing news.

“The draft seems to be a restriction on sharing information on the internet so I am concerned,” Seng said. “We really need the Press Law to protect us like professional journalists.”

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment.



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