23.05.2018 -

Speech: Opening Remarks at the Launch of the results of the Fojo Media Institute’s Study on “Working for Gender Equity – Women in Cambodian Media” by Ms. Anne Lemaistre, UNESCO Representative in Cambodia

Excellency Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister of Women Affairs,

Excellency Mr. Thach Pen, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information,

Excellency Ms. Maria Sargren, Ambassador to Sweden,

Highnesses, Excellences, Ambassadors, Distinguished Guests,

Dear Journalists and Media Workers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored and pleased to address you today on the 25th celebration of the World Press Freedom Day. AS you know, WPFD is a global celebration of the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, freedom of information, and press freedom.

First, I would like to acknowledge the great cooperation between all partners for making today’s event possible. Among these partners, please, allow me to extend special thanks to the Minister of Women’s Affairs, H.E. Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi, for her presence this morning with us especially on the day of the Royal Ploughing Ceremony.  Let me also express my gratefulness to the Government of Sweden represented by Her Excellency the Ambassador, Mrs Maria Sargren, our sister organizations UNOHCHR  co-organizing this event together with UNESCO as well as UNWOMEN, the Department of Media and Communication of the Royal University of Phnom Penh and its alumni, the Club of Cambodian Journalists, Women’s Media Center, the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, for making today’s event possible.

As this year’s main theme is about freedom of expression, access to information and elections, a workshop will be dedicated to this specific issue at the end of this afternoon during a dinner for journalists. As you know, Access to information is vital for transparent, peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

UNESCO supports the drafting of laws on access to information all over the world because it strongly believes also that Access to information can be both a target in itself and a facilitator of all other goals of the 2030 Development Agenda. I would like to take this opportunity to renew my sincere thanks to the Government of Sweden for its constant support to the drafting of the Law on Access to Information in Cambodia. I would also like to extend my thanks to the Ministry of Information, and in particular, the Minister who was a decisive driving force in this successful accomplishment. We all encourage the Cambodian Government to discuss and adopt the Law on Access to Information as soon as possible. Once this Law is adopted, I praise for a consultative and participatory approach for its implementation would be recommended so that the bridges established at the time of drafting of the Law between Government and CSOs can be strengthened further.

This success is in line with the international trend of increased recognition of the public’s right to access information. Many countries have adopted such Laws bringing to 112 the number of countries having Access to Information legislations at the end of 2016. This data is extracted from UNESCO Global Report 2017/2018 on “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development” that monitors and reports on contemporary developments in press freedom and safety of journalists. The summary of this publication has been distributed in the room.

What can we find in this Global Report?

Political, technological and economic transformations are reshaping the media landscape. Sliding profits and declining audiences for traditional media, new technologies question the traditional role of journalism. UNESCO has analyzed these global trends according to four different focuses that are media pluralism, media independence, media freedom and safety of journalists and media workers. If positive aspects can be noticed, the statement that I made last year stating that it is a critical time for journalists and press freedom remains pertinent.

For your information, within this worldwide context, according to Reporters Without Borders 2018 World Press Freedom Index published on 26 April, UNESCO regrets to note that Cambodia is sliding from rank 132 to 142  over 180 countries following the closing of Cambodia Daily and other independent radios. We sincerely hope this declining trend will be reversed soon.

As last year, trends in the safety of journalists all over the world are worrying. 90% of cases of crimes against journalists remain unpunished. Media and journalists around the world are harassed and even killed for informing citizens and carrying out critical reporting on issues of public interest.  They are confronted to obstacles to reporting the truth through arrest, imprisonment, intimidation, and violence. Every four days in the word a media professional gets killed for doing his/her job.

As you know, UNESCO is acting as the leading UN agency to implement the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. We encourage all to stand up for the safety of journalists whose murder far too often remains the most tragic form of censorship -- 79 journalists paid the ultimate price in 2017.

I would like to bring to your attention the case of an internationally reputed journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. She was a Maltese investigative journalist, writer, and anti-corruption activist, who reported on political events in Malta, a small island of the Mediterranean Sea that is part of Europe.  She lost her life after her car was bombed on 16 October 2017.

On this day of celebration, and following the UNESCO Director-General’s invitation, I would like to call on all of us here to observe a moment of silence to remember Mrs Daphne Caruana Galizia, and the other 78 journalists and media professionals who had paid with their lives for our right to know.

[Minute of Silence]

Thank you.

Excellences, Distinguished Guests,

Dear Journalists and Media Workers,Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have paid a specific tribute to Ms. Daphne Caruana Galizia for 2 reasons; firstly, because her assassination led to a series of initiatives that are likely to be future trends of journalism.

After her death, 45 journalists from 18 media organizations agreed to work together to pursue leads from her work on corruption and international money-laundering networks, as well as look into the circumstances surrounding her death. This investigation, named the “Daphne Project” is the first of a series of projects by the group “Forbidden Stories”, an international network of journalists that are dedicating themselves to continuing the work of other journalists who have been killed or put in jail.

They are ensuring that no story get silenced. The idea is simple but bright: when a reporter is murdered or jailed, a network of journalists takes over his or her investigation, completes it and makes it accessible to the public. Cooperation among journalists is without a doubt the best protection. What is the point of killing one journalist if 10, 20 or 30 others are carrying on their work? By developing this kind of solidarity, journalists can ensure that investigations survive. This is a way for journalism to defend journalism.

Secondly, I have mentioned the case of Daphné, it is because of today’s thematic concerning Women and Media. According to Global Trends, women remain underrepresented in media making up only 1 in 4 Editors-in-Chief, 1 in 3 reporters and 1 in 5 experts interviewed. In addition to the status of women, UN equal employment of women in journalism or sexist attitude in the media, women are the primary victims of violence related to the exercise of their profession and specific violence is also targeting both men and women reporters covering women’s rights.

Gender-oriented violence in the field of media is, according to Reporters without Borders, originating in three different phenomena: 1) autocratic governments that are determined to defend their patriarchal societies, 2) religious groups target journalists who have challenged their propaganda by advocating the emancipation of women, and; 3) criminal organizations, when journalists denounce their exploitation of women

I am very grateful to the FOJO Institute to share with us the results of their research about “Women and Media in Cambodia” which is part of a broader study carried out in South East Asia.  This story focusses on the status and working condition of female journalists but also on how women related topics are dealt by the media.

I am pleased to note in this regards that last year the Ministry of Woman Affairs took the initiative to pass a Joint Prakas on the Media Code of Conduct for Reporting Violence Against Women,  prepared together with the Ministry of Information and the Cambodia Club of Journalists  in July 2017 which is a concrete step in terms of ethics of journalism.

I look forward also to the discussion on this topic by our distinguished members of the Round Table.

In this spirit, I call on everyone to continue standing united in defending and encouraging press freedom, the right to access to information and the safety of journalists and in particular of Women Journalists. This is essential for human rights and dignity, for our aspirations for sustainable development, for our common determination to build lasting peace.

I wish you a very fruitful meeting.

Thank you for your kind attention and your presence this morning.

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