Minister of Information Neth Pheaktra backs the creation of a journalistic ethics council, a topic explored at the 20th Cambodia Editors Forum in Phnom Penh recently. 

Noting the significance of a unified ethical framework, he likens it to a constitution for journalists, akin to a national constitution that everyone must adhere to without exception.

He said that with a common principle, each media association can shape its code of conduct based on individual tolerance. However, he mentioned the need for journalists to uphold shared values and mutual respect.

“I endorse this initiative as our goal is to ensure that all journalists have legal protection,” he said.

He mentioned that if professional ethics are established, all media institutions would operate on a unified common principle. The ministry will collaborate with journalists’ associations to support their efforts in creating a shared journalistic ethics that garners unanimous agreement.

“We want every journalist to jot down what they envision for journalistic ethics and what they believe members of the profession should uphold. Everyone contributes to shaping ethics, so input from all is fundamental. The ministry won’t dictate; it’s a voluntary collaboration where journalists are the creators,” he said.

Puy Kea, President of the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ), suggested that further discussion is necessary to determine whether to establish the ethics council first or to focus on establishing a standard set of journalistic ethics.

“The CCJ will keep playing a central role in engaging with stakeholders to explore the potential of setting up a professional journalist ethics council,” he said.

Kea said that over the past 20 years, the CCJ has been actively involved in the development of journalistic professional ethics. He encourages journalists to consider the CCJ’s compiled journalism code of ethics as a foundational practice before adopting a common set of principles.

In a recent message to the forum, Prime Minister Hun Manet advised journalists to address challenges by prioritising peace, national development and democracy. Noting the importance of professional ethics, he urged the provision of accurate information, combating disinformation and avoiding content that harms national interests and public confidence.

The event convened managing directors, editors-in-chief and leaders from various media outlets. They collaborated to discuss and endorse a nine-point joint statement on “Professional and Journalistic Ethics,” which aims to establish mechanisms guiding and motivating journalists to actively implement professional ethics.