This week, the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) will pay tribute to two journalists and the staff of a news outlet at the 2009 International Press Freedom Awards ceremony.
Iranian journalist Jila Baniyaghoub and the independent Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta are this year’s winners of the International Press Freedom Award.
In the course of her career, Baniyaghoub has been beaten, detained and imprisoned several times for reporting the news and standing up for press freedom in her native Iran.
Novaya Gazeta, which frequently investigates and exposes corruption and human rights abuses in Russia, grabbed international attention as a result of the murders of four of its staff members.
Canadian freelance journalist Terry Gould, author of Murder Without Borders: Dying for the Story in the World’s Most Dangerous Places, will be receiving the Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award for his coverage of attacks on the media.
The Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award is named in honour of the late Vancouver journalist who was assassinated in 1998.
The awards will be presented at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto on Wednesday, December 9.
The International Press Freedom Awards, now in their 12th year, are the centrepiece in the CJFE’s annual fundraising effort. Funds raised will be used to support legal defence work in Canada, press freedom advocacy efforts around the world, and CJFE’s Journalists in Distress Fund, which has disbursed more than $170,000 in grants to persecuted journalists in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.
Attacks on journalists are alarmingly high in number. According to the CJFE, 93 journalists have been killed in the line of duty so far this year. Among them were 31 reporters from the Philippines who were murdered in a massacre that took place in Maguindanao recently.
In Canada, the murders of four journalists remain unsolved. In most cases, the perpetrators are never arrested, prosecuted or punished for their crimes.