UNESCO thumbs up over press freedom

UNESCO thumbs up over press freedom

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Information Minister Neth Pheaktra (R) meets with UNESCO Representative to Cambodia Sardar Umar Alam at the Ministry on Monday. AKP

In a recent meeting between UNESCO Representative to Cambodia, Sardar Umar Alam, and Cambodia’s Minister of Information Neth Pheaktra, commendations were extended towards Cambodia for its strides in improving press freedom and collaborative endeavours between the government and civil society organisations.

The appreciation was notably highlighted during discussions held during a courtesy call on Pheaktra by Umar Alam at the Ministry on Monday.

Umar Alam specifically lauded Cambodia for its robust celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2024 and the release of a comprehensive report detailing the state of press freedom within the nation.

He also commended Cambodia’s leadership for hosting a gathering that brought together over 5,000 journalists this year, underscoring the government’s commitment to fostering an environment conducive to open dialogue and media engagement.

Expressing gratitude for the recognition, Pheaktra thanked Umar Alam for acknowledging the efforts of Cambodian Government and the Ministry of Information. He affirmed the ministry’s dedication to continuing its collaboration with UNESCO to further enhance press freedom, freedom of expression, and support for media practitioners across the country.

Highlighting the positive sentiments echoed by stakeholders, the Minister referenced a survey conducted among 341 respondents, revealing that an overwhelming 79.8% acknowledged Cambodia’s press freedom as healthy. This statistic underscores the progress made in cultivating an environment where journalists can operate with relative freedom and transparency.

Findings from the Ministry of Information’s survey on “Press Freedom in Cambodia” also reveal promising insights into the perceptions and practices of journalists within the country. Out of the 341 journalists surveyed, a significant majority expressed feeling “completely free” to report from various sources and publish without constraints.

Moreover, an overwhelming 94.4% of respondents believe that Cambodia boasts a wealth of diverse media outlets that effectively engage audiences nationwide. A resounding 81.8% of journalists underscore the paramount importance of upholding professional ethics in their work.

The survey also indicates strong support for legal measures against those who breach professional ethics, with 92.1% of respondents in favor. Additionally, 81.2% recognise the pivotal role journalists play in combating the proliferation of fake news.

Furthermore, a staggering 99.4% of participants acknowledge Cambodia’s media diversity as a critical factor in fostering press freedom. Similarly, 95% endorse the notion that a vibrant and varied media landscape contributes to advancing press freedom within the nation.

Speaking during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day on May 4, Prime Minister Hun Manet said the Government is committed to guaranteeing press freedom as stated clearly in the Constitution and existing laws of the Kingdom.

He encouraged journalists to continue to report freely based on professional ethics.

On that occasion, he said that “the freedom of the press in Cambodia is advancing and moving towards better regulation. Freedom of expression remains favourable as journalists can report freely based on ethics and professionalism.”

Mr Hun Manet added that Cambodia has made significant progress in the media in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The country maintains openness regarding freedom of expression and press freedom, as guaranteed by the Constitution and the Press Law. Journalists, press entities, and associations are facilitated accordingly.

The Prime Minister also commended the Ministry of Information’s and all stakeholders’ efforts in developing a vision, strategy, and action plan to enhance the information and audio-visual sector and promote freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Cambodia.

“These activities are vital and made possible by the hard work of journalists who overcome various obstacles to report swiftly and comprehensively on the real situation in Cambodia, particularly during significant historical events in the country’s past,” he added.

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