30 November 2011

Journalists from Mexico to MENA honoured with CPJ and CJFE awards

Michelle Shephard, Toronto Star, and Khaled al-Hammadi of Yemen at the CJFE event.
Michelle Shephard, Toronto Star, and Khaled al-Hammadi of Yemen at the CJFE event.
Saman Aghvami/CJFE

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Ten courageous journalists around the globe were recognised in award ceremonies held separately by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) in Toronto and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in New York last week.

On 22 November, four reporters, including Mansoor al-Jamri of Bahrain, Natalya Radina of Belarus, Javier Valdez Cárdenas of Mexico and Umar Cheema of Pakistan, were honoured by CPJ during their annual International Press Freedom Awards benefit dinner.

Earlier this year, Radina, who founded the website Charter 97, was forced to flee Belarus for asylum in Russia after she was detained for her coverage of corruption and human rights violations.

"Today, Belarusian jails are filled with political prisoners," said Radina, naming several journalists who have been kidnapped and murdered under Belarus's dictatorship in the last decade. "Today we witness how dictatorships around the world are being toppled . . . Please, do not forget about Belarus."

On 24 November, CJFE recognised six journalists in its Night to Honour Courageous Reporting. The gala included an editorial cartoon exhibit as well as a photo exhibit of snapshots captured during the initial months of 2011's Arab Spring.

The International Press Freedom Awards were presented to Yemen's Khaled al-Hammadi, a journalist with Al Jazeera TV and a correspondent for "Al-Quds Alarabi", and Egypt's Mohamed Abelfattah, a citizen journalist and blogger.

Al-Hammadi was honoured for his brave reporting during continuing deadly clashes in Yemen between the regime's supporters and protesters while Abelfattah was recognised for demanding accountability in the deaths of pro-democracy advocate Khaled Said, fatally beaten by security forces in an internet cafe, and countless others.

Abelfattah could not be present but sent a video speech. CJFE says al-Hammadi "spoke eloquently about the dangers of practising journalism in his country and how awards like this shed light on the need to protect journalists around the world."

Three scientists, Dr. Shiv Chopra, Dr. Margaret Haydon and Dr. Gérard Lambert, were additionally awarded the CJFE integrity award for their work to inform Canadians that they were pressured to approve veterinary drugs they felt put Canadians' food safety at risk.

IFEX's case study on the two events compiles advice from both CPJ and CJFE to aid other IFEX members in holding speaking events to raise awareness of freedom of expression.

It is available here:
Case Study: Courageous reporters take the podium at CJFE's and CPJ's annual awards events

Putting free expression issues in perspective.

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