Cambodia to Pursue Self-regulating Press Council

Senior Minister Om Yen Tieng, head of the government’s Anti-Corruption Unit, speaks at a joint Sweden-Cambodia workshop on press freedom and media ethics in Phnom Penh. He supports an idea of having a press council that would act as a self-regulating body with the power to field complaints as well as sanction reporters and their media organisations.

Many local reporters and editors from various radio stations and newspapers attended a joint workshop between Cambodia and Sweden on press freedom and ethics yesterday in Phnom Penh.

As a high-ranking Cambodian official proposed an idea of having the self-regulating press council, Minister Om Yin Tieng endorsed the idea.

“We don’t want the court to judge,” Om Yin Tieng said, although he said the court would not be taken completely out of the equation.

The new body would not replace incitement and disinformation laws that have been used to put journalists in prison.

Om Yin Tieng said the council would be along the lines of the Cambodian Medical Association, with its authority limited to withdrawing licenses, issuing fines, and ordering corrections and apologies.

The existing model is Sweden’s Press Council, which was established in 1916 and is the oldest of its kind in the world.

The Press Council’s ombudsman, Ola Sigvardsson, flew in to lead the one-day workshop.

He said about 300 complaints a year came to his office, and he rejected roughly 250 of them. If he wants to uphold a complaint, he sends it to the Press Council for approval. Newspapers, magazines and their websites then have to publish the decision.

Although he is unfamiliar with laws governing the press in Cambodia, Sigvardsson said a free and unrestrained media environment was necessary for the Press Council to work.


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