Several government institutions are working together to improve the effectiveness of the media, as they understand that access to information is vital to the well-being of the population.

Speaking at a January 25 press conference which followed a meeting between the National Assembly’s Fifth Commission on Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, Propaganda and Information and the Ministry of Information, Suos Yara – chairman of the commission – said the two institutions were committed to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Kingdom’s media.

“Our discussions focused on strengthening the quality and values of the press. We want to ensure that they share information in a professional manner which aligns with the values of the Cambodian Constitution. We want to make sure that those who report information do so in accordance with the laws of Cambodia,” he added.

“Knowledge is increasingly important in the new century. It is true that the dissemination of facts can benefit society, but it is equally true that mistruths and biased opinions can be detrimental. It is very important that journalists are aware of their professional responsibilities and do not mislead the public,” he continued.

Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information, also addressed the press conference. He explained that the profession of journalism is open to anyone, and protected by the Constitution. When moral errors are made or distorted facts are reported, the ministry can only educate the wrongdoers.

“Today, there are up to 53 journalists’ associations, and the ministry works with them to improve their professionalism. If an immoral or misleading article is published, the ministry will arrange for it to be corrected or removed. In serious cases, the ministry may sue the author,” he said.

At some point in the future, the ministry will prepare amendments to press law in order to make it in line with the reality of the media atmosphere in Cambodia, he added.

The development of modern technology has increased the number of public and private media institutions in Cambodia, whether in print, radio, television or online.

Yara and Kanharith commended the Kingdom’s journalists for supporting the government during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially for managing misinformation and sharing accurate data that helped the public to protect themselves.

On access to information law which is currently under drafting, they said this law needs to be carefully prepared and analysed by numerous institutions. The draft law reached the Ministry of Justice for their review on penalties, and it sets to be approved in 2024 or 2025.