Union helps resolve complaints brought against journalists

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The Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia (UJFC) president Huy Vannak. AKP

The Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia (UJFC) intervened to resolve 33 cases last year where complaints were brought against Cambodian journalists, according to a report issued on January 11.

Stating that the UJFC intervened only in cases in which it received formal requests from media organisations, the report noted that its scope was limited to those instances, excluding cases other than those where the union was involved.

The UJFC noted that most complaints derived from cases of disseminating details of land disputes and locations of crimes. There were no complaints, however, about the publishing of opinions or descriptions of political issues.

“The complaints that were filed alleged criminal offences, even in disputes between journalists. This indicates a very low level of attention to the press law,” the report stated.

UJFC president Huy Vannak said on January 12 that the press law had been overlooked and improperly implemented in the media. If a journalist has incompletely reported relevant information, a notice should be sent in order to make corrections or add context to a story.

He encouraged journalists to continue to abide by professional principles, fight against fake news narratives, resist participating in the psychological warfare of geopolitics and contribute to the advancement of the nation’s prestige and excellence.

“In our country, the press is free and open, but some individuals have a limited understanding of their rights and freedoms. If we all know and understand our rights well, no one will stop us or obstruct our freedom so long as we act in accordance with the law without infringing upon the rights of others,” he said.

Ministry of Information spokesman Phos Sovann said on January 12 that he had not yet seen the report, but as a government official, he would not focus only on one narrow issue but would consider all facts within a broader context to find solutions.

Sovann claimed that some journalists intended to deviate from ethical standards, putting personal motives ahead of professionalism.

“Although our press freedom is very open, some journalists should learn more about professional ethics to avoid making mistakes when reporting news,” he said.

Voice of America reporter Sun Narin said on January 12 that professional journalists should not be sued simply for following the press law to amend any inaccuracies, and the judiciary should not charge them with criminal offences.

“People with grievances against journalists always file complaints directly with the courts, so it clearly shows that all parties do not understand laws pertaining to the media. I don’t think we should use criminal law against journalists like this,” he said.