October 11, 2023
PHNOM PENH – Minister of Information Neth Pheaktra has called on journalists and social media users alike to cease the sharing of images and videos which feature deaths or violent content, noting that the widespread posting of such content has the potential to cause emotional harm to survivors and the families of victims.
His remarks followed a recent uptick in the sharing of graphic images and videos of the aftermath of murders and other violent deaths.
“Do not continue to share and publish such images, as it has affected the mental and emotional well-being of the families of victims, who are already suffering from the loss of family members. It also has the potential to upset other members of the public,” he urged in an October 7 social media post.
He noted that the sharing of images of victims is contrary to the ethics of the journalism profession, which demands that all journalists offer dignity and respect to victims and their families.
“To honour the families of the victims – and the victims themselves – do not publish or share images and videos that affect the dignity and privacy of the victims. Pictures should be blurred or pixelated before they are posted or shared. Doing so shows respect for victims, as well as professional ethics,” he added.
Pen, Bona, chief of the Government Spokesperson Unit, echoed the information minister’s calls, noting that members of the public – and especially journalists – should behave ethically and not post images of violence, or content that violates people’s right to privacy.
He said on October 9 that he had recently raised the fact that thieves, motorcycle robbers, traffic accidents and other violent scenes are almost never published on the front pages of newspapers in developed countries.
“They normally use these as short pieces on the inside pages of their newspapers, without using pictures. There are sometimes exceptions for prominent individuals, which require longer pieces, but these are written with ethics in mind. They do not show violent images, such as murder scenes,” he added.
Bona said the media should refrain from publishing such stories, because reporters should be aware of the negative consequences of breaching people’s privacy.
Puy Kea, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ), said on October 9 that the text which provides context should accompany such images.
“It has been widely discussed what kinds of pictures should be used, with consideration for ethics. If the images feature violence or its aftermath, they should be blurred so as not to adversely affect the victim and their family, or the public,” he said.
Cambodian Journalists Alliance (CamboJA) executive director Nop Vy concurred, noting on October 8 that the sharing or distribution of pictures or videos of violence or murders that may shock readers is clearly highlighted as being against journalistic professional ethics.
“These should be strictly enforced by every journalist in the country.
“This is especially true in the digital age, where anyone can broadcast online. We know that the internet journalism policies do not allow the posting of violence images and videos, especially murder – such content should be removed,” he said.
He said it appeared that some local journalists were failing to respect their professional ethics and were broadcasting inappropriate material.
Article 14 of the press law states that the media shall not publish anything that affects the positive traditions of society. This includes inappropriate words, words that directly describe sexual activity and images or videos that depict sexual activity or nudity. Exceptions can be made for educational content.
Article 15 of the law adds that without the permission of the court, the press may not publish photographs or drawings that may make the reader aware of the names and identities of the parties in civil matters relating to paternity, divorce or spouses, as well as anyone under the age of 18 who is involved in civil or criminal disputes. Finally, images or the identities of girls or women who are the victims of rape shall not be published.