It is important for private companies and businesses to respect the human rights of those their work impacts. In order to encourage engagement and understanding of this, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Cambodia organised a workshop on Business and Human Rights for Journalists, in cooperation from the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM), on August 27 2013. The purpose of this workshop was to raise awareness in the media of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, business responsibility on these matters, and the role of civil society in promoting the implementation of these principles.
Held at the Himawari Hotel in Phnom Penh, the workshop featured the participation of official representatives from the United Nations (UN), civil society, businessmen and national journalists.
DPA’s Executive Director, Mr. Mam Sambath, was invited to speak about the “Role of Civil Society in Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility to Respect Human Rights”.
Speaking about DPA’s work with communities affected by extractive industries, Mr. Mam Sambath said, “Based on our research, there are very few businesses that think about the importance of respecting human rights. Currently, there are more than one hundred mining companies operating in Cambodia, but very few show respect for their workers’ rights and for those who are affected by their investments. Additionally, most of these mining sites are in remote areas, so it is difficult for journalists to get information regarding the companies’ work.”
“Even though journalists may not be experts on human rights, they play important role in encouraging respect for the rights of those affected by large corporations through news articles,” said Mr. Pa Ngoun Teang, Director of CCIM.
Mr. Daniel Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of SRP International Groups Ltd, said “The government cannot reduce poverty easily without the participation of the private sector. Meanwhile, the private sector must be considerate about the protection of human rights as they perform their business and be more socially responsible.
Mrs. Wan-Hea Lee, Country Representative of OHCHR said, “If a company is violating the freedom of their workers, journalists should share this information with the public. In order to do this, it is important for journalists to understand what constitutes human rights violations.”