With the Covid-19 outbreak showing no sign of subsiding, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on journalists to maintain their professionalism and ethics in reporting the truth – and refrain from fake news – to the public along with educational messages on preventive measures.

Hun Sen made the call in a letter marking the 28th World Press Freedom Day on May 3 with the theme “Information as a Public Good’.

The theme is crucial as it corresponds to the current situation where people around the world are in need of authentic news, he said, comparing it to daily food that people cannot miss.

In the last two years, he said, much of the world has scrambled to contain the pandemic, with many countries having restricted freedom of assembly and declaring a state of emergency in a desperate move to curb the spread of the virus and save lives.

He said the third wave of transmission in Cambodia linked to the February 20 community outbreak had posed severe threats to the wellbeing of the people, public health and had claimed lives of Cambodians and foreigners, with more than 13,000 infections detected in just over two months.

Throughout all difficult times over the past years, he said journalists have tried their best to keep the public informed of the situations and have significantly contributed to the government’s battle against the disease and fake news alike.

“I sincerely appreciate and place high value on our journalists who have made great efforts to overcome obstacles and dangers in fulfiling their duties to actively broadcast and publish news on what is really happening in the country,” he said.

In the current circumstances, he called on journalists to broadcast and publish news along with educational messages on Covid-19 preventive measures as recommended by the Ministry of Health and in line with the government’s directives. That, he said, would help break the chain of transmission and turn the situation back to normal.

“I want to stress that the government’s efforts alone without the participation of the press and the general public would not be enough for us to succeed.

“And I’d like to remind local and international journalists that they must abide by the laws, ethical standards, professionalism, and refrain from violating other people’s rights just for their personal interests by spreading fake news and incitement which may damage other people’s honour and dignity and bring about social chaos.

“Publishing the truth is an effective way to fight against the dissemination of fake news by ill-intended people who have a tendency to go against the development in Cambodian society.

"It’s the way to fight against criminals who seek to gain personal interests by using media as a cover to commit offences that affect people’s dignity and the prestige of the media and professional journalists. This cannot be tolerated,” he said.