Wikimedia Pauses Bophana Center Program Amid Sexual Harassment Investigation

2 min read
The entrance to the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center in Phnom Penh on November 2, 2022. (Michael Dickison/VOD)
[responsivevoice_button voice="US English Female"]

A film archival project for indigenous youth at Bophana Center has been put on hold as the center commissions a third-party investigation into allegations of sexual harassment at the center, the project’s funder said.

Bophana Center last month fired two trainers following an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment at a separate documentary filmmaking training program at the center.

The center’s donors said a third-party investigation was now underway into the sexual harassment allegations.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia, said last week that its Bophana Center program, “Build Capacity for Indigenous Youth and Create Indigenous Audiovisual Archives Using Wiki Tools in Cambodia,” was paused in light of the allegations.

The first phase of the foundation’s grant to the center ran from July 2021 to June this year, and it was renewed through December before being suspended, it said.

“The Wikimedia Foundation does not tolerate harassment of any kind and takes any allegations of this nature extremely seriously,” it said, adding that it was awaiting further information from the independent, third-party investigation.

Unesco, whose logo is on the indigenous film archive project and which hosts information about it on its website, referred questions to Wikimedia.

“I would like to inform you that the filming project which you are referring to was not funded by UNESCO rather by Wikimedia and you can be in touch with Wikimeda,” said Unesco Cambodia officer Ty Samphors Vicheka in an email.

The officer did not reply when asked what Unesco’s involvement was.

Bophana Center has also not responded this week when asked who is conducting the independent investigation and about the Wikimedia-funded program for indigenous youth.

Donors for the center’s separate documentary filmmaking program, BBC Media Action and the Swedish and Swiss aid agencies, said they were also awaiting the third-party investigation’s results.

“We have noted that Bophana Center has pledged to commission an independent, third-party evaluator to review its policies and procedures to counter sexual harassment, to make recommendations on how these can be strengthened and to devise a new policy and protocol for whistleblower protection, among other measures,” said BBC Media Action country director Gemma Hayman. “We look forward to the outcome of this process.”

VOD. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission. VOD is not responsible for any infringement in all forms. The perpetrator may be subject to legal action under Cambodian laws and related laws.