The Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) and Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance (Khana) have claimed that media reports which are not in accordance with a code of conduct can encourage discrimination against drug abuse victims.
It can prevent them from receiving treatment and integrating into society, they said.
The claim came at a workshop discussing a code of conduct for reporting on drug affected people, which was held in Phnom Penh on Monday.
The workshop was held to discuss the process of organising and drafting a journalistic code of conduct for reporting on drug users.
The code of conduct aims to remind the media to be careful of the language used in their articles so as to not instigate further discrimination against drug victims.
CCJ President Pen Bona said some Cambodian reporters don’t fully understand the code of conduct.
“All our reporter colleagues should use our statement. Sometimes it is unintentional, but [improper reporting may] make victims become [further victimised],” said Bona.
Khana director Choub Sok Chamroeun said reporting that is inappropriate in accordance with the code of conduct can compel drug victims to continue to use drugs, isolate them from society and victimise them even more.
“We find that drugs are a big issue, and if reporting is not in accordance with the code of ethics, it will make the victims become victimised again, make them afraid, avoid treatment and continue to hide, making them perpetual victims,” said Sok Chamroeun.
Sok Chamroeun said the media must encourage families and communities to send drug victims for treatment, medical and psychological rehabilitation.
He said the media must encourage drug users to be brave and consult a medical expert for treatment.
“We must implement the code of conduct to help reduce drug accidents and reduce discrimination against drug users.”
The secretary-general of National Authority for Combating Drugs, Meas Virith, could not be reached for comment on Monday, but he recently said that there were 5,200 drug-related cases in total in the first 249 days this year and 10,519 drug users and perpetrators.
Of the 5,200 drug cases, 3,399 were for trafficking, manufacturing and storage. He said 6,165 suspects were arrested for drug-related crimes.