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US Brings Media Training to Cambodia

The US Embassy will provide journalism training to Cambodian media in June, to improve coverage of economics and the environment, a US official said Monday.

The program is part of an American commitment to global press freedom, said US Charge D’affaires Theodore Allegra, marking World Press Freedom Day.

“In June, we will sponsor a course designed for journalists reporting on economic and environmental topics,” he said, noting that both issues were important now to Cambodia and nations worldwide.

The embassy will also provide training for public information officers and government media officers in July, Allegra said.

“This is designed to increase the dialogue between ministries and journalists so that the public is kept better informed about government policies and action,” he said.

Cambodia saw its press freedom ranking fall to “not free” this year, in an annual report by US-based Freedom Watch, and the international watchdog Reporters Without Borders counts Cambodia among countries that “waver between repression and liberalization.”

Both organizations marked a slip in press freedoms for Cambodia.

Pen Samithy, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said that the poorer rankings were caused by the murder of opposition journalist Khim Sambo, along with his son, two weeks before the July 2008 national election, among other threats.

“The arrests and threats against journalists increased from 2008 to 2009,” he said. Threats against journalists jumped to 14 in 2008, compared to seven the year before, and the number of journalists arrested went from six in 2007 to 10 the following year.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said Cambodia’s media environment was better than any of its Asean neighbors.