Today marks World Press Freedom Day (“WPFD”), an annual initiative that aims to promote and protect freedom of the press across the globe. The principal focus of this year’s WPFD is access to information, an essential requirement of any truly participatory democracy, insofar as it “allows for public scrutiny, oversight, participation, and empowerment”.
As the recent Panama Papers debacle (in which Cambodia’s Minister of Justice was named) highlights, access to information is crucial to the fight against corruption and, by extension, the promotion of good governance. Guaranteeing access to information is crucial in Cambodia, given the deeply entrenched corruption within the country.
To mark WPFD, CCHR released a series of infographics as part of a social media campaign to highlight the situation of press freedom and access to information in Cambodia. The social media campaign can be followed through CCHR’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
In addition, CCHR asked local journalists ‘why is access to information important in Cambodia?’ and received the following responses:
“We are human beings living in a democratic society. If we cannot access the truth, we are no different to a tree.”
Mr. Vann Vicha, journalist
“Access to information is the basic right for everyone to receive public information from public institutions and sometimes from private organizations. Access to information benefits everyone, including reporters, students, farmers, community people and vulnerable groups.”
Ms. Sa Samdeat, citizen journalist
“We know that to make democracy work, people must have the right to know important information and the leadership must be accountable. Thus, for Cambodia to be a democratic country, access to information must be guaranteed under the law in accordance with international principles.”
Ms. Im Rachna, journalist
“…Cambodia strongly needs the Law on Access to Information in order to help those who actively work for a better future.”
Mr. Nhim Sakhorn, journalist
“…In a true democratic society access to information is essential. Access to information is the foundation for people to be able to make the right decisions and to know the truth of the situation of their country.”
Mr. Phak Seangly
“The absence of an Access to Information Law has been a major obstacle for me to seek the truth for the public. More corruption cases would have been reported; more corrupt officials would have been held accountable… if an Access to Information Law had existed. I believe that if access to information is legally guaranteed and properly enforced, democratization in Cambodia will thrive.”
Ms. Cheng Mengchou, journalist
“I strongly believe that access to information is extremely important in this country as it aims to ensure an effective democracy and the rule of law… access to information is part of basic human rights to ensure governmental transparency.
Furthermore, freedom of the press and media also plays an important role as a watchdog to check on how the government makes decisions for developments without harming local people. The press and media are effective tools to raise voices against social injustice and to enhance liberty…”
Mr. Taing Vida, journalist
What are your views on access to information in Cambodia? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!