Two Cambodian journalists have been awarded the
Hellman/Hammet Writer's Award, for upholding standards of journalism despite
Chheang Bopha, 28, and Duong Sokha, 27, were selected among
34 journalists from 19 countries to receive the award, which "recognizes
courage in the face of political prosecution," Human Rights Watch, which
administers the award, said in a statement.
"Chheang Bopha and Duong Sokha represent a small
minority among Cambodia's
press corps who dare to challenge corrupt and politically biased institutions
through their writings and their actions," said Sara Colm, a senior
researcher for Human Rights Watch.
Both men quit working for the French-language newspaper
Cambodge Soir to protest the dismissal of a colleague who had reported on
illegal logging, including coverage of a banned report by the environment
monitor Global Witness.
The Global Witness report implicated many high-ranking
members of government, including those in the family of Prime Minister Hun Sen,
in illegal logging.
"In a climate of increased suppression of free
expression and attacks against independent media--including from the highest
levels of government--few journalists dare challenge the system," Colm
said. "Sokha and Bopha aim to uphold professional standards in a country
with few truly independent media outlets."