Canadian Journalists for Free Expression honours three with annual Press Freedom Awards



    Awards reflect outstanding commitment to freedom of expression

    TORONTO, Oct. 22 /CNW/ - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE),
is proud to recognize Sami al-Haj of Sudan and Shakeman Mugari of Zimbabwe
with the 2008 International Press Freedom Awards for extraordinary courage and
overcoming tremendous odds to report the news. CJFE is also pleased to
acknowledge Jim Poling of Hamilton, ON with the Vox Libera Award for his
long-standing commitment to freedom of the press.
    "This year we honour three journalists who have never compromised their
principles and journalistic integrity," said Carol Off, Chair of the CJFE
Awards committee. "Our honourees embody the true essence of journalism and
anti censorship - their efforts send a strong message that the truth cannot be
silenced."
    The 11th annual International Press Freedom Awards will be given out at a
gala ceremony at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto on Monday, December 8,
2008. This year's event will also shine a spotlight on the extraordinary
challenges faced by photojournalists and videographers whose images drive home
the horrors of war and repression.
    The International Press Freedom Awards recognize the strength and bravery
of foreign journalists who overcome obstacles in order to deliver news. So
far, in 2008, an estimated 76 media workers and journalists were killed around
the world and another 58 were kidnapped or imprisoned. In the face of
judicial, physical or life-endangering threats these journalists worked
tirelessly so that news media remain free.
    CJFE's Vox Libera award is an annual award granted to a Canadian who has
demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the principles of free expression
and who has had made an important and sustained contribution at home or abroad
to those same principles.

    2008 International Press Freedom Award Winners

    Al Jazeera reporter Sami al-Haj was released from Guantànamo Bay on
May 1, 2008 where he was held for six years. Al-Haj was never formally charged
or brought to trial but he was ordered to become an informant against Al
Jazeera in exchange for a U.S. passport and release from Guantànamo Bay.
Al-Haj refused and instead launched a yearlong hunger strike. The US finally
released him to Sudan where he is now Al Jazeera's news producer for liberties
and human rights affairs.
    A reporter for the Zimbabwe Independent and a stringer for the Globe and
Mail, Shakeman Mugari has openly criticized the Zimbabwe government for abuse
of power and failure to improve conditions for the over 80 per cent of
Zimbabweans living in poverty. Mugari continues to report on a multitude of
human rights abuses plaguing the country. In a report published in The
Washington Post in April 2008, he exposed a military junta at work in
Zimbabwe, cracking down on opposition parties in order to assist Robert Mugabe
in maintaining control of the country.

    2008 Vox Libera Award Winner

    As Managing Editor, News of The Hamilton Spectator, Jim Poling created
two year-long internships for foreign-trained journalists living in Canada.
The recipients are integrated into the newsroom, gaining the training and
industry insight it takes to work in the Canadian media community. Poling also
helped found the Canadian Journalism for Internationally Trained Writers
program at Sheridan College and sits as chair of the Advisory Committee.

    The CJFE awards gala is made possible by the support of returning Evening
Sponsor Scotiabank, Reception Sponsor CTV and Platinum Sponsor CBC News, along
with the valued support of other organizations and individuals across the
media, legal, academic and business communities.

    About Canadian Journalist for Free Expression

    Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more
than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who
work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and
around the world. CJFE has a history of work on cases pertaining to media law
and freedom of expression.
    Full biographies can be found at www.cjfe.org





For further information:

For further information: Julie Payne, CJFE, (416) 515-9622 x. 226,
jpayne@cjfe.org; Gillian McArdle, Media Profile, (416) 504-8464,
gillian@mediaprofile.com

Organization Profile

CJFE INTERNATIONAL PRESS FREEDOM AWARDS

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