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Press freedom event to be held

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Khieu Kanharith lays flowers to mark World Press Freedom Day 2017 near Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh at a memorial for war journalists who lost their lives in Cambodia. Post pix

Press freedom event to be held

The Ministry of Information is to meet with the media and relevant institutions on Friday to mark World Press Freedom Day, while the Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia (UJFC) urged journalists to uphold press freedom for national interests, world peace and justice.

Ministry spokesman Phos Sovann said on Thursday that the event, held in collaboration with Unesco under the theme Media’s Role in Supporting Peace and Democracy, will be held at Hotel Le Royal and attended by various participants, including government officials, representatives from the UN and civil society organisations, and other development partners.

“Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith will deliver a keynote address at the event and there will be a speech by Samdech [Prime Minister Hun Sen] too. The UJFC has already expressed their stance before the [World Press Freedom] day,” he said.

According to Agence Kampuchea Press (AKP), Cambodia commemorates World Press Freedom Day on May 3 every year to uphold the fundamental principle of free press and promote freedom of expression and freedom of information.

AKP said the free press and freedom of information are crucial to building mutual understanding and world peace in a sustainable manner.

To mark the event, the UJFC on Thursday released a statement urging journalists to uphold press freedom for national interests, world peace and justice.

“If your valuable profession contributes to prosperity, peace, stability and sustainable development in your nation, then you are also a contribution to world peace and justice.

The UJFC acknowledges that there remains hurdles for the media to overcome, including financial constraints, job security, space for freedom and access to information. The statement encouraged journalists to overcome the challenges and fulfill their profession without fear or favour.

To maintain professionalism, UJFC president Huy Vannak urged journalists to broaden both professional and financial knowledge, conduct more research and produce news based on various reliable sources.

“To become a media boss or owner, a journalist needs to have sound knowledge of finance and leadership.”

Pen Bona, the president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ), said some countries were currently in a precarious situation in the midst of political turmoil that poses serious challenges to journalists. In Cambodia, he said, journalists have to some extent faced limited press freedom and legal issues.

“In Cambodia, currently I have no concerns over press freedom. I much rather have concerns about the quality of journalism and the profession itself. Our quality is still low and our profession has not been respected properly so issues frequently arise,” he said.

Bona pointed out that journalists who fail to respect their own profession properly are most likely to face issues including legal woes.

Journalist Mao Sopha was of the view that press freedom in Cambodia is still limited. He said journalists at various media outlets still had concerns when reporting stories about politics, and in most cases resort to self-censorship.

“In short, media outlets whose articles are not critical of the government do not face threat,” he said.

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