Many media outlets have urged the establishment of a professional journalist ethics council to punish journalists breaching the ethics of the profession. Currently, journalists' clubs and associations do not have the legal right to censure journalists who do wrong.

A total of 92 publishers, editors-in-chief, association representatives and media leaders from 60 media outlets met at the 19th Editor’s Forum on December 17 to discuss strengthening the ethics of journalists in Cambodia.

The forum adopted the Slogan “Strengthening mechanisms for implementing professional ethics of journalists in Cambodia.”

A joint statement said that strengthening the professional ethics of journalists was important in upholding the values of journalists and bolstering public trust in the media, especially in the context of the boom of online journalism and social media.

“We as editors-in-Chief in Cambodia understand that clubs or associations of journalists today do not have the power to orient journalists towards professional ethics because they have no legal right to issue warnings or discipline journalists who make mistakes,” it added.

The statement said that no one person or institution currently acts to orient or uphold the values of the journalistic profession. This has resulted in members of the public sometimes criticising some of them for professional misconduct.

“We believe the establishment of a professional journalistic ethics council, with the clear function of improving the sector and punishing wrongdoers, is essential for improving the current state of journalism in Cambodia,” it added.

The media outlets appealed to all members of journalists’ associations to join the Press Ethics Council and support its processes. They emphasised the importance of enhancing the quality and abilities of all journalists, so they will earn respect and be valued by members of the public and authorities at all levels.