Tuesday, September 23, 2014UNGA appearance is an opportunity to demonstrate Canada’s commitment to human rights
Toronto, ON—Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) has called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper
to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi while at the United Nations General Assembly this week, to push for the release of Canadian-Egyptian journalist Mohamed Fahmy and his colleagues.
Mohamed Fahmy and his Al Jazeera English colleagues Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed have been imprisoned since December 29, 2013. Following a trial that was internationally condemned as devoid of substantive evidence and riddled with procedural violations, the three journalists were convicted of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false news on June 23, 2014.
“These are innocent men convicted without evidence or due process,” says CJFE Executive Director Tom Henheffer. “This is an opportunity for Canada to take a leadership role in the fight for justice and human rights, and we call on Prime Minister Harper to do everything in his power to advocate for this Canadian citizen and his colleagues.”
Fahmy’s family is increasingly concerned about the imprisoned journalist’s ailing health, after it was recently revealed that he has hepatitis C, in addition to a pre-existing severe shoulder injury that has deteriorated into a “severe, chronic” condition since his arrest. CJFE echoes his family’s calls for Prime Minister Harper to press for Fahmy’s release on bail for health reasons, and that the appeal process be expedited.
Harper is expected to address the General Assembly for the first time since 2010 on the afternoon of September 25. His speech will reportedly touch on the escalating crisis of the Islamic State jihadist group in Iraq and Syria, as well as the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
While Egypt is understandably an important regional partner in the fight against the Islamist State militants, repeated violations of human rights cannot be overlooked.
CJFE monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to information in Canada and abroad. Rooted in the field of journalism, we promote a free media as essential to a fair and open society. CJFE boldly champions the free expression rights of all people, and encourages and supports individuals and groups in the protection of their own and others' free expression rights. cjfe.org
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Executive Director, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression