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Two Journalists Awarded for 'Courage'

Two Cambodian journalists have been awarded the Hellman/Hammet Writer's Award, for upholding standards of journalism despite political persecution.

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."