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CPJ Honors Journalists for Courage and Contribution to Press Freedom

CPJ Honors Journalists for Courage and Contribution to Press Freedom

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is to due to honor four journalists for their courage and independence in reporting the news. The international Press Freedom awards ceremony takes place in Washington, DC on November 12, 2006.

Julia Crawford is the Africa program coordinator for CPJ. She told VOA’s Douglas Mpuga that the Committee to Protect Journalists has been giving these awards since 1991. “we use a number of criteria but basically it is to honor journalists who have shown exceptional courage to report the news; who have made an exceptional contribution to press freedom often in face of terrible dangers”, she said. Crawford said all the awardees this year have risked their lives, and one lost her life. “The award also is partly to spotlight the situation for the press in a particular country”, she added.

Jesus Abad Colorado of Columbia, Jamal Amer of Yemen, and Madi Ceesay of Gambia will be honored together with Atwar Bahjat, an Iraqi correspondent for Al-Arabiya satellite television and former Al-Jazeera reporter who will be honored posthumously.

Ms Crawford described the awardees as brave and courageous journalists. She said Medi Ceesay, the only African awardee, is the first Gambian journalist to be honored and lamented the deteriorating situation in the African country. “the award will not only honor the individual courage of Madi Cessay’s but is also aimed at drawing the attention of the world to the terrible situation for journalists, the press freedom abuses, the human rights abuses taking place in Gambia. “Gambia is also the seat of the African Union’s commission on human and people’s rights. It is very ironic that it hosts this commission on human rights for the whole of Africa and yet, particularly since March 2006, we have seen a whole string of incommunicado arrests, torture of detainees, and it seems the government has no respect for the rule of law” observed Crawford.