CJFE announces recipients of 10th annual International Press Freedom Awards

    Awards acknowledge the increasing struggle to report news in a dangerous

    TORONTO, Oct. 1 /CNW/ - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
is proud to honour Farida Nekzad of Afghanistan and Sahar Al-Haideri of Iraq
with the 2007 International Press Freedom Awards for their commitment to
freedom of expression and overcoming tremendous odds to report news.
    Farida Nekzad works as a journalist promoting press freedom and women's
rights in Afghanistan. She is the current editor in chief of the Pajhwok News
Agency, the sole independent news agency in Afghanistan.
    Sahar Al-Haideri was killed this year for unflinchingly reporting on
humanitarian issues in Iraq, including the plight of women and minority
groups. She wrote in the most dangerous circumstances, challenging and
exposing the human rights violations of the extremist groups in her home town
of Mosul.
    Ali Iman Sharmarke is the recipient of the Tara Singh Hayer Award, which
recognizes Canadians for courage in journalism. Mr. Sharmarke returned to his
homeland of Somalia to help rebuild the media in the war-shattered country. He
was killed on August 11, 2007, when his car drove over a remote-controlled
landmine as he was returning from the funeral of another journalist, Mahad
Ahmed Elmi.
    This year marks the tenth year anniversary of the International Press
Freedom Awards. In the 10 years since the awards inception, approximately
1,000 journalists have been killed on the job. CJFE is planning to mark the
anniversary with a dramatic look back on a decade of award winners through a
retrospective of their struggles and triumphs to report the news in a
dangerous world.
    CJFE hopes that Farida Nekzad and the husband of Sahar Al-Haideri will be
able to travel to Toronto, Canada to attend the gala awards ceremony at the
Arcadian Court on November 1, 2007 where they will be guests of honour. The
award winners and their families will receive $3,000 in prize money from CJFE
and will be flown to the ceremony courtesy of Air Canada.
    "We feel this year's winners represent the best of the local journalists,
working in impossible war-time conditions, and never giving up until they get
the story out," stated Chair of the Awards committee, Carol Off. "The fact
that two out of three of our winners have died for their work is a stark
reminder of how dangerous that work can be."
    This year's event is made possible by the support of Evening Sponsor,
Scotiabank, Platinum Sponsor CTV and the Reception Sponsor, CBC, along with
the valued support of other organizations across the media, legal, academic
and business communities.

    About CJFE

    CJFE is an independent non-profit association of more than 300
journalists, editors, 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.
    Full biographies can be found at www.cjfe.org

                                 Quick Facts
                   Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

    -   89 individuals have been killed so far in 2007 because of their work
        as journalists.
    -   Worldwide, 26 journalists have been jailed so far in 2007. Currently,
        a total of 127 journalists are in jail around the world
    -   In 2006, China ranked first as the world's leading jailer of
        journalists for the eighth consecutive year, with 31 reporters in
        custody. Cuba ranked second with 24 reporters in prison
    -   According to the worldwide statistics, more male journalists (93 per
        cent) are killed than female journalists (seven per cent)
    -   Leading causes, worldwide resulting in death of journalists in 2006:
        -  Murder - 73 per cent
        -  Crossfire - 17 per cent
        -  Other dangerous assignments - 10 per cent


    -   43 journalists were killed in Iraq in 2007, the highest number of
        journalists killed in one country
    -   In the last four years, 10 female journalists were killed in Iraq
    -   Since the 2003 US-led invasion, more than 180 journalists and media
        assistants were killed in Iraq. More than 80 per cent of those killed
        were Iraqi


    -   Six Somali journalists were killed in 2007, the second highest number
        of journalists killed in one country
    -   In 2007, four journalists have been shot and wounded; 11 have been
        arrested for short periods; and more than 30 have tried to flee the
        country to seek refuge in Kenya
    -   According to the National Union of Somali Journalists, four
        journalists have been tortured and five news media outlets have been
        attacked: one was burned down while another was destroyed by
        missiles. Three other media institutions have been forced to shut
        down in 2007


    -   The Afghanistan media landscape has grown to eight TV stations, 50
        private radio stations and some 400 newspapers and magazines since
        the establishment of the Hamid Karzai government in 2001
    -   At least 20 journalists were assaulted or received death threats in
        2006 from politicians or their families
    -   Approximately 300 women work as journalists in Afghanistan, but they
        still remain a minority among journalists. Seven of the 12
        journalists at the Voice of Peace Radio are women. More than 20 women
        work for Rabia Balkhi Women's Radio Station
    -   Three journalists (two male, one female) have been killed so far
        in 2007 as a result of their profession. All three journalists
        received threats warning them to stop reporting. Another female
        journalist was killed in her home allegedly as an honour killing by a
        family member

               For more information, please visit www.cjfe.org

For further information:

For further information: CJFE Manager, Julie Payne at (416) 515-9622 x.

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