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Canada should investigate assault on Palestinian journalist by Prime Minister's body guard

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is concerned by reports that a Canadian security official physically assaulted a Palestinian cameraman at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem earlier today. Our colleagues at the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) have reported that Al-Mahid TV cameraman Amer Hijazi was physically assaulted by one of the Prime Minister's body guards following a dispute about Palestinian journalists' permission to film within the church.

This altercation comes in the midst of the Prime Minister's first official trip to the Middle East. The goals of the visit include “advancing peace and security, and reinforcing the principles of democracy and good governance in the region.” A free press is a critical element to the establishment and preservation of democracy and good governance, and Canada should lead by example. It is imperative that Canada and its representatives defend and protect the global right to freedom of expression and media freedom.

CJFE asks that you investigate this incident and ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Said Hamad, Chief Representative, Palestinian General Delegation in Canada
Katherine Verrier-Fréchette, Representative of Canada to the Palestinian Authority

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