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CJFE to honour journalists from Colombia, Egypt, Pakistan

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) will be honouring journalists from Colombia, Egypt and Pakistan for bravery at its 2006 International Press Freedom Awards banquet in Toronto in November. Hollman Morris, Abeer Al-Askary and Hayat Ullah Khan have been named winners of this year's awards, which recognise journalists who overcome great odds to cover the news.

Morris, a veteran Colombian journalist, has been the target of multiple threats over the years because of his work. His television programme Contravía addresses some of the most difficult and controversial issues in Colombian society, including atrocities that have been committed by all sides of Colombia's long-running armed conflict.

The programme also reports on some of the most important human rights cases in Colombia, including the unsolved murder in 2001 of popular journalist Jaime Garzón.

Threats against Morris have taken the form of funeral wreaths and letters of condolence delivered to his home. Recently, he was the target of a smear campaign accusing him of being a spokesperson for the powerful Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group.

Al-Askary is a young Egyptian journalist who has published investigative reports on controversial issues such as corruption, election fraud and the torture of prisoners.

Among her writings are reports on state security officers within the Ministry of Interior who have supervised torture against activists and prisoners. She has been attacked because of her articles, including in May 2005 when she and several other journalists were assaulted by state security agents while covering public protests against a 2005 referendum to amend the constitution. Female journalists were physically assaulted and sexually harassed.

CJFE traditionally presents only two International Press Freedom Awards, but this year, an exception was made to honour slain journalist Hayat Ullah Khan of Pakistan.

Khan was a freelance journalist and photographer who reported on military's operations in Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. He was abducted in December 2005. His dead body was found in North Waziristan on 16 June 2006. Khan disappeared after reporting that a senior al-Qaeda commander had been killed by a U.S. missile, contradicting official Pakistani accounts of the death.

Al-Askary and Morris will each receive CAD$3000 (US$2,700) in prize money from CJFE and will be flown to Toronto, Canada to attend an award ceremony on 1 November 2006.

Khan's family in the Afghanistan border regions of Pakistan will be sent CAD$3000 in prize money, which CJFE hopes will help to continue their fight for justice in his case.

Visit these links:

- CJFE: http://www.cjfe.org/awards06/2006winners.html
- Report on Khan's Murder: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/asia/pak16june06na.html
- Censorship in Pakistan: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/158/
- Censorship in Colombia: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/133/
- Censorship in Egypt: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/1446/

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