Human Rights Watch this week awarded its Hellman/Hammet writer’s award, given for principled expression under hostile conditions, to Cheang Bopha and Duong Sokha, two former reporters of French-language newspaper Cambodge Soir.
They quit their jobs to protest the firing of a colleague who had covered a report by the international watchdog group Global Witness. The report, Cambodia’s Family Trees, uncovered the alleged ties of Cambodia’s leaders to illegal logging operations.
Cambodge Soir’s staff went on strike demanding editorial independence, and their publisher responded by closing the paper for several months before returning under new management.
Shouldering a pay cut, the two reporters taught journalism until joining other journalists in launching the French- and Khmer-language Ka-Set (www.ka-set.info) in March of this year.
“It is a positive thing to have young journalists stick to principles and do top-rate journalism in an environment where many journalists feel they are putting themselves at risk for simply reporting the facts,” said Sara Colm of Human Rights watch. “Ka-Set is building a reputation as one of the go-to sources. It endeavors to cover the news without political bias.”