Information Ministry Requires Notification Before Journalism Trainings

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Officers and journalists gather outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on January 15, 2020. (Matt Surrusco/VOD)
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The Information Ministry has issued a letter saying it should be notified before all journalism trainings, with a spokesperson saying it can help find trainers and speakers from various government institutions.

In a letter to all publishers and journalism associations dated Thursday, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said there has been a lack of cooperation with relevant ministries to provide proper education and training in accordance with the rules and regulations of professional journalism ethics.

He advised all training programs to inform the Information Ministry in advance to promote the sector to be more efficient, professional, higher quality and better promote the right to a free press in accordance with the Constitution and Press Law.

Phos Sovann, the ministry’s information department director, said if institutions do not notify the ministry before a training course, the ministry will not be responsible in case of a problem with authorities or other challenges.

Sovann added that the requirement to inform the ministry will also allow it to help find trainers and speakers for the trainings.

“We have speakers from the Ministry of Agriculture, speakers from the Ministry of Education, and [this can] make it easier for the workshop to be organized with quality. [This is] the objective of the ministry,” Sovann said.

Club of Cambodian Journalists’ president Pen Bona, who is also editor-in-chief of Senator Ly Yong Phat’s PNN TV, said the club always informed the ministry before any trainings in order to make sure participants better understand the profession and ethics of journalism.

“We run a program and we invite a speaker from the ministry to ask them to explain, for example, the Press Law and the principles of the Ministry of Information in Cambodia,” Bona said.

Nop Vy, executive director of the Cambodian Journalists Alliance, said he welcomed cooperation with the ministry, even though the government has not been deeply involved in the association’s previous workshops.

“We will consider the Ministry of Information’s request and we can look into the possibility of how we can prepare ways to make it easy for us,” Vy said.

Chan Sokunthea, media development director at the Cambodian Center for Independent Media — VOD’s parent organization — said the NGO conducts both longer trainings for people wanting to become journalists and shorter workshops for citizen journalists in the provinces.

CCIM currently does not notify the Information Ministry before workshops, and, as it is a registered organization with the Interior Ministry, it should not have to, Sokunthea said, calling the requirement a “restriction.”

“If you want to know our activities, it’s in our annual report to the Interior Ministry,” Sokunthea said.

“I’m especially concerned that our participants will feel scared,” she added, noting that citizen journalists already often face pressure from local authorities over their involvement in civil society workshops.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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