Monday, May 17, 2010

Cambodia Celebrates World Freedom Day


The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Cambodia in cooperation with the Ministry of Information, Press Council of Cambodia (PCC), Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ), and Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) have celebrated World Freedom Day under the scheme “Freedom of Information: The Rights to Know” on May 4 in Phnom Penh.
About 200 Cambodian and foreign journalists from cities and provinces across the Kingdom of Cambodia have attended the evening aiming to commemorate the fundamental principles of press freedom and also commemorate the journalists who have been killed or jailed in the line of duty.

Dr. Nouv Sovathero, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Information, said that the World Press Freedom Day is celebrated across the world every May 3rd in commemorating the fundamental principles of press freedom as well as to pay solemn contributions to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

During the past ten years, the freedom of press and expression has been improved and progress in Cambodia. Many Cambodian people also access to the information and the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs), he said.

“I think that although Cambodia has just woken up from the civil war, there is a full respect of press freedom and expression if compared with our neighboring countries especially Thailand. Many people have access to the information and the use of ICTs in Cambodia,” he said during his opening remarks delivered to the celebration of the World Press Freedom Day in Phnom Penh.
Sovathero added that in order to reach the run and reach the most development of ICTs in the world journalist are also required to improve their professional skills in accordance with the advances of ICTs technologies in the future.
Teruo Jinnai, UNESCO Representative in Cambodia, said that May 3rd is a special day for all people to commemorate and observe the freedom of press. He stated in particular, this year’s World Press Freedom Day, with the scheme of the Freedom of Information, offers an occasion to remember the importance of their rights, to be informed on what pubic rights there are.
“We may not consciously exercise our right to Imagine that when we pick up a newspaper, turn on the TV or radio news, or go on the internet, it is primary because we seek to be informed; we desire to learn, because we want and need to know, but, this qualitative learning process will only happen truly if what we see, or hear, come from the media and are previously able to accurate and up to date information,” he said.

Mr. Jinnai said that in many occasions, because of a lack of resources and inadequate infrastructure to deliberate obstruction, the media, finds obstacles in the way of their rights to know. Consequently, that the right to know that they all have is also affected.
“May 3rd is also a special day for us all to remember, these courageous journalists who have lost their lives for the sake of our rights to know,” he said.
He continued to say that day by day, many journalists exercised their profession in an environment with restrictions on information, and where they are under pressure, harassment, intimidation or even physical assaults.

“Last year UNESCO condemned the killing of 77 journalists. You may have already known that 42 journalists have been killed during the first quarter of this year. This, definitely, should not be happened anymore,” he said.

He added that today they must also acknowledge the advances that have been made. Progressively, more countries are adopting the freedom of information legislation which makes it easier to scrutinize government actions, and it reinforces public accountability.

“Meanwhile, faster and cheaper technology means are being developed and more people in the world have more access to information ever before,” he said. “I recognize the Cambodian government credit and the action being taken for the promotion of the access to the information, through the opening of radio stations in many provinces in this year, and the support for the operation of indigenous community radios in Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri,” he added.

He said: “I see that key actors in the Cambodian media sector are today participating in this conference and therefore, I trust it is now the time for us to capitalize on these advances I have mentioned, by strengthening institutions, by providing the necessary training for information professionals and community media developers, by fostering greater openness within our public sectors and greater awareness among the public.”

Christophe Peschoux, Representative of UNOHCHR, said that the freedom of information is a key condition to freedom of expression. It is also a measure of the advancement of transparency, public accountability and democratic life in any given society. He said that Journalists and reporters have an important role to play in the fight against corruption. But they can only play that role if they are provided sufficient access to relevant information and if they can publish information without fear for their security or life.

“UNOHCHR would encourage the government of Cambodia to consider adopting a Freedom of Information Act. This would help facilitate the work of the media in performing its crucial role of informing the public, the government, and about the matters of public concerns,” he said. /

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