Information Minister Khieu Kanharith yesterday called on the media and relevant institutions to provide input on proposed amendments of the Press Law so that it can respond to recent developments in journalism and better promote freedom of the press in the Kingdom.
Speaking at the Consultation Forum on the Amendment of the Press Law of Cambodia 1995 in Phnom Penh, Mr Kanharith said that the law was adopted in 1995 and is considered as encouraging an open and free press.
However, he noted that with the advent of information technology, it requires tweaking to address some shortcomings.
Mr Kanharith said that for the law to have better content, serve common interests and respond to current developments in the information sector, the ministry will gather comments and opinions from all concerned parties to modernise it.
“We will take all ideas for consideration to come up with a draft proposal,” he said. “After that we will form a working group consisting of ministry officials, legal officers from the Council of Ministers, lawyers, representatives from the Ministry of Justice, active journalist associations and relevant organisations to discuss it before adopting it as the law.”
Um Sarin, president of Cambodian Association for Protection of Journalists, which organised the forum, yesterday said the law actually has some good points in protecting journalists and information sources and assures press freedom in Cambodia.
He urged journalists and relevant institutions to provide feedback to the ministry on how the press law could be improved.
“Proposals made from discussions and comments will be used as inputs to amend the press law,” Mr Sarin noted.
Sok Sam Oeun, legal adviser of Transparency International Cambodia, said that the amendment of the Press Law should take into account other laws such as the Criminal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure in order to protect journalists from imprisonment.
He said it should also include some provisions to protect social media users who comment on or share information.
“I suggest that there should be provisions to ensure that any journalist arrested for mistakes in reporting should not be put into pre-trial detention and other laws such as incitement should not be applied to journalists,” he said.
Hang Chakra, the publisher of Khmer Mchas Srok newspaper, yesterday said he supported the amendment of the Press Law so that it will be in line with current developments in society.
However, he urged law enforcement authorities to use the Press Law to take action against journalists who misreport and avoid using other laws against them.
The Press Law was adopted in 1995 and contains five chapters with 21 articles that define the press and guarantee the freedom of the press and publication in accordance with Articles 31 and 41 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.