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SOMALI BROADCASTERS WIN CJFE INTERNATIONAL PRESS FREEDOM AWARDS

A Kazakh journalist whose daring exposé of government corruption cost her her daughter's life and the founders of one of Somalia's only independent broadcasters have been awarded the 2002 CJFE International Press Freedom Awards, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) announced.

Each year, the awards honour journalists who overcome enormous odds to produce the news and demonstrate a commitment to freedom of expression - often at high cost to themselves. The awards will be presented at a banquet in Toronto on 13 November.

Lira Bayseitova, a former editor-in-chief of the Kazakh opposition newspaper "Respublika 2000," published an article earlier this year in the daily newspaper SolDat. In the article, Bayseitova interviewed a former Swiss public prosecutor who confirmed that several senior Kazakh officials, including President Nursultan Nazarbayev, held Swiss bank accounts, says CJFE.

Following publication of the interview, Bayseitova's 25-year old daughter, Leila, was arrested on 21 June on drug charges. She died in police custody. While authorities claimed she tried to hang herself, a Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) investigation revealed that their reports were "riddled with discrepancies and not very convincing."

In Somalia, HornAfrik radio and television station has been described as a media rebuilding success story, providing the only reliable source of information in the war-torn country, says CJFE.

Founded by Ahmed Abdisalam Adan, Mohamed Elmi and Ali Sharmarke - three Somali-Canadians who returned to their country to set up the broadcaster - the station has faced constant intimidation and threats. It has been criticised by extreme religious fundamentalists for airing programmes by the BBC World Service.

CJFE says HornAfrik's biggest contribution has been to create call-in programs that have become hugely popular in Somalia. Prior to HornAfrik's existence, Somalia's radio stations were owned and operated by warlords who used them to spread their own views.

The announcement of the CJFE award comes amidst a journalists' strike in Somalia in protest against a proposed media law that critics are calling "draconian" [See "Communiqu%26#233;" story #4].">http://communique.ifex.org/articles.cfm?system_id=5082">"Communiqué" story #4].

For more information about the award winners, contact Joel Ruimy at CJFE: ruimy@cjfe.org.">mailto:ruimy@cjfe.org">ruimy@cjfe.org.

Visit these links:

- CJFE: www.cjfe.org">http://www.cjfe.org">www.cjfe.org

- RSF's Report on Leila Bayseitova: www.rsf.org">http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=3579">www.rsf.org

- CPJ's 2002 Report on Kazakhstan: www.cpj.org">http://www.cpj.org/attacks01/europe01/kazak.html">www.cpj.org

- CPJ's 2002 Report on Somalia: www.cpj.org/attacks01/africa01


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