Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said he will provide personal lawyers to defend journalists who are facing complaints in court, but he also urged journalist to be professional in carrying out their duties.
Speaking to about 5,000 journalists attending an annual dinner with him at the Koh Pich Exhibition Cenre, Mr Hun Sen agreed to provide personal volunteer lawyers, led by Ky Tech, to assist journalists who face court complaints.
Mr Hun Sen also urged journalists to upgrade their skills and be professional when carrying out their work.
He said he made the commitment after Information Minister Khieu Kanharith requested him to do so.
“I agreed to provide my personal lawyers in cases involving journalists who practice professionalism,” Mr Hun Sen said. “I am concerned that there are some journalists who are not trained and do not work for media companies, such as those who use bad words to criticise individuals on Facebook.”
Mr Hun Sen also urged reporters to increase their capacity to watch over government performance and policy to raise its effectiveness.
“A journalist must be the bridge between the government and the people. Not all government policies are effective so that is why we need journalists to follow up on issues,” he said.
Mr Hun Sen said journalists must report problems faced by society to enhance social justice.
“Journalists should dare to report on all unjust activities in society,” he said. “I urge all journalist to work hand-in-hand with the government to fight injustice for a better society.”
Mr Hun Sen said he wishes to become a mentor to journalists after he retires from politics.
During his two-hour speech, Mr Hun Sen called on journalists to contribute towards peace and stability by countering fake news.
“I would like to thank journalists who report facts to combat fake news,” he added. “Without peace, journalists also cannot survive. Everyone needs peace.”
Mr Hun Sen then ordered all ministers and governors to cooperate with journalists and regard them as partners.
“I urge the ministers and governors to talk to journalists, to regard them as partners who can help you carry out your duties effectively,” he said.
Mr Hun Sen said government officials should speak to journalists rather than using the excuse of not divulging information due to national security.
He also ordered all government agencies to create teams of spokespersons and Facebook pages to disseminate information to the public.
Huy Vannak, president of the Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia, yesterday lauded Mr Hun Sen’s advice to journalists in playing a pivotal role in society. He also welcomed Mr Hun Sen’s offer to provide his lawyers to assist journalists.
“It is good because journalists will have free legal aid,” Mr Vannak said.