Press Freedom Award Winners Hail from Colombia, Egypt and Pakistan

Friday, August 25, 2006
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is proud to announce the winners of this year's International Press Freedom Awards, Abeer Al-Askary of Egypt, Hollman Morris of Colombia and Hayat Ullah Khan of Pakistan. Both Abeer Al-Askary and Hollman Morris are expected to attend the gala ceremonies at Toronto's Arcadian Court November 1 to be recognized and honoured for their efforts. "This year's winners come from some of the toughest regions in which to practice journalism," stated Chair of the Awards committee, Carol Off. "They are truly remarkable people, committed to speaking out, and telling the stories of the world's most vulnerable citizens." CJFE traditionally presents just two International Press Freedom Awards, but this year, an exception was made to honour slain journalist Hayat Ullah Khan of Pakistan. Hayat Ullah was abducted in December 2005, and his dead body was found in North Waziristan on June 16, 2006. His honorary award will be announced at the awards ceremony in Toronto, and his family in the Afghanistan border regions of Pakistan will receive $3000 in award money. CJFE hopes the award will help his family to continue their fight for justice in his case. Hayat Ullah Khan is an example of the most extreme measures taken against journalists, but the other two winners are testament to the hundreds of tactics used against journalists to silence them every day, sometimes by their own governments. Abeer Al-Askary is a young Egyptian journalist who has published investigative reports on controversial issues such as corruption, election fraud and torture of prisoners. Because of her writings, she was victimised in a series of attacks by the Egyptian state security authorities. She was one of the victims of the assault on May 25, 2005, targeting journalists covering demonstrations against the referendum on constitutional amendments. Female journalists were not only physically assaulted, but also sexually harassed in an attempt to break their will. In Colombia, veteran journalist Hollman Morris has also been the target of multiple threats. Those threats have sometimes come in the macabre shape of funeral wreaths and letters of condolence delivered to his home. For his fierce commitment to uncovering the truth about atrocities committed on all sides of Colombia's armed conflict, he was recently the victim of a smear campaign accusing him of being a spokesperson for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Al-Askary and Morris will receive $3000 in prize money from CJFE and will be flown to the ceremony in Toronto, Canada. About CJFE CJFE is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, producers, publishers, broadcasters, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world. Proceeds from the annual awards dinner help protect free expression in Canada, and support embattled journalists around the world. For more information please contact CJFE Manager, Julie Payne at (416) 515-9622 x. 226

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