Because Cambodia observes democracy, freedom and multiparty system, we notice that the media sector has developed in many forms. As a result, many media institutions were established to serve different purposes. Some of them uphold independence in their mission.
According to the experience in the past, some Cambodian journalists have received formal journalism training in low level and some others did not implement the professional journalism, which are the causes why the media sector cannot serve the need of the social development and its citizens, especially the need for journalistic ethics.
Recognizing ethics as a foundation for practicing journalism, and seeing the lack of code of ethics for journalism, media associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) agreed on a common code of ethics in conformity with the ethics of journalism in many developed countries around the world.
We, the journalists, believe that having a common code of ethics for journalism is very crucial in improving the confidence among the general public, especially in serving them with sense of seriousness and honesty.
1. Seek and report the truth
1.1. Always make the writings and news coverage reliable and accurate.
1.2. Collect reports, photos and any information in a legal manner.
1.3. Ensure the accuracy of facts before publication.
1.4. Identify properly facts and opinions in the reports for clarity of information.
1.5. Criticize constructively and in a dignified manner.
1.6. Reports only information received from the sources and refrain from omitting or distorting important information.
1.7. Make the news coverage fair, neutral, balance, and devoid of misleading information.
1.8. Give opportunity to persons who have less chance to speak for them to provide information.
1.9. Give opportunity to persons who are involved in news stories to provide information about their side, particularly those who are accused.
1.10. Undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information should not be used except when the open methods will not yield information.
2. Be responsible
2.1. Follow the Cambodian Press Law and the Constitution at all times when performing duties in journalism.
2.2. Use Khmer grammar and vocabulary properly in writing news and other media reports.
2.3. Press institutions should take responsibility for inaccurate publication and should take measures to correct it.
2.4. Avoid plagiarism and ask permission from the writer or author in using information from their reports.
2.5. Avoid taking actions that affect the integrity of the journalists and may cause disunity among the journalists.
2.6. Media advertisements should not violate the code of ethics, especially Cambodian customs and values.
3. Exercise independence
3.1. Media institutions should exercise independence.
3.2. Do not reports, speak, or show pictures which are inaccurate and only benefit the interest of a particular individual or group of people.
3.3. Separate news articles from advertisements to strengthen the prestige and independence of the media.
3.4. Be free, independent, fair, and neutral and do not support political parties.
3.5. Protect the right to freedom of information and resist censorship.
3.6. Do not violate the integrity of the institution of the independent media in which you work for.
4. Protect the sources
4.1. Protect the confidentiality of sources unless there is an approval from the sources.
4.2. Acknowledge properly the sources to which information is collected or used as reference.
5. Respect privacy
5.1. Respect people’s right to privacy.
5.2. Avoid intruding the privacy of individuals unless it is important to serve the public interest.
5.3. Do not insist in questioning, telephoning, or photographing an individual if he/she refuses to speak or to be taken pictures. Also, leave from the property of others when asked to leave.
5.4. Sympathize with someone in grief or shock in making inquiry.
5.5. Recognize the greater right of private individuals to keep their information than public officials and others who seek public office.
5.6. Do not release the picture of a person who was dismissed from his workplace unless that person has committed crime.
5.7. The Media should not show sexual relation in wedding or after divorce without the permission from him or her.
6. Protect women, children and the disabled
6.1. Give special consideration to women, children and the disabled.
6.2. Do not use naked or obscene pictures of the women victims, which harm their dignity and honor.
6.3. Do not use words or phrases that infer judgment on the victims or the suspects, especially the women, children, or disabled.
6.4. Seek permission from the parents, guardians or persons responsible of children under 18 years old to interview or take pictures of these children involved in an issue.
6.5. Do not use materials to seek for information involving a child’s welfare.
6.6. Do not divulge the identities of children who are under 18 years old and are victims or witnesses in sexual offences to the media.
7. Do not discriminate
7.1. Journalists must abide by the international treaties on human rights.
7.2. Avoid hatred, bad attitudes, prejudice, and discrimination against race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and physical or mental disability of an individual.
7.3. The journalists must not prejudice, behave badly, or discriminate against race, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, politic, physical or mental disability
and other things of the society.
7.4. Do not publicize the details of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability of the individual unless it is related to the issue.
8. Maintain peace
8.1. Do not report information defaming an individual or distort the truth which can cause social and national disorder.
8.2. Use of obscene words and distortion of information is a serious guilt of misconduct.
9. Keep the hands clean
9.1. Do not accept any gift which harm the profession and honor as a journalist.
9.2. Do not accept any gift for reporting real or unreal information.
9.3. Support anti-corruption efforts.
10. Respect national custom
10.1. Respect national custom and tradition.
10.2. Promote religious and cultural identity.
10.3. Do not present obscene and tragic pictures and information which affects Cambodian traditions.
11. Crime reporting
11.1. Do not give an opinion on a case in which it is still under investigation or the court has not judged on the case yet.
11.2. Be careful and avoid too many details in reporting on the methods used in murder cases.
11.3. Respect the rights of the defendants and do not accuse them when the Judge has yet decided on their cases.
11.4. Do not identify relatives or friends of the accused of a crime without their consent and unless they are relevant to the case.
11.5. Give special regard to the vulnerable people, children, witnesses or victims of a crime.
11.6. Do not report the identity of the victim, especially juvenile victim, of sexual harassment, unless it is legal.
11.7. Do not report inappropriate, cruel or violent information on physical and sexual violence.
(This common code of ethics for Cambodian journalists was approved by the participants to the second national conference of Cambodian journalists held on October 27, 2009.)