UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and the Cambodia Center for Independent Media (CCIM) are implementing a project to promote and strengthen freedom of expression in the country.
A series of workshops was launched in the framework of the project in three rural target communities of Preah Vihear, Mondulkiri and Ratankiri. The three-day workshop, which was successfully conducted from 22 to 26 November 2012, encouraged participants to express their thoughts and to report on human rights within the Cambodian media context. Since then, 60 community members, including human rights and youth activists, have been trained on citizen journalism, and on how to write stories, reports and to use new media tools such as social media and email box. Newly trained citizen journalists will now form and operate a Community Information Committee to produce radio news. The aim is to produce five news reports per month to broadcast through community radio stations.
The project aims at supporting marginalized and ethnic communities to express their views and promoting community participation. Most of the beneficiaries of the project had been under the assumption that they clearly understood freedom of expression, but they realized that they only had limited notion of the idea. They now express their interest in learning more about this topic. Some of them said that, although they would like to write a news report, they are concerned about their security. The fear has affected a number of participants.
Media is one of the most powerful way to communicate because “it helps to solve community problems” and to “promote freedom of expression,” state the beneficiaries of the project, who have been very active and collaborative. Almost all of the community members are interested in learning how to be a citizen journalist. Promoting freedom of expression requires media pluralism. Building the media capacities of local communities in Cambodia was one step towards empowering them to advocate for their right to freedom of expression and opening new spaces where to make their voices heard.
The Cambodia Center for Independent Media produces radio materials such as Voice of Democracy broadcast via Radio Sarika to 8,480,000 people. It will continue to assist citizen journalists to produce news materials for broadcast on Sarika FM 106.5, FM 95.5 and through the network of community radio stations participating in this project.