Journalists honoured for bravery amid global threats

In the past year, 34 journalists were killed in the field, more than 250 others were jailed and 55 remain missing.

A ceremony in New York has honoured journalists around the world who have faced intimidation, harassment and imprisonment.

An elaborate evening gala for a cause to fight for press freedom was held on Wednesday in New York. 

The Committee to Protect Journalists, one of the world’s top organisations that defends the rights of journalists to work without fear of reprisal, honoured several journalists for their courage.

Hundreds of journalists over past decade killed while working across the world

One is Afrah Nasser, a Yemeni reporter and blogger who now lives in exile in Sweden after receiving death threats in her native country for her critical reporting of the government.

A two and half year Saudi-led war in Yemen has left seven million people in famine-like conditions, according to the UN.

Yemen remains one of the most difficult places in the world for journalists to report from, and Nasser said it is about more than herself.

“It is not only for me; it goes to all Yemeni journalists who are behind bars and who refuse to be part of the propaganda system,” Nasser told Al Jazeera.

“It’s also to pay tribute to all the journalists who despite all the obstacles are trying to put Yemen on the media agenda.”

Nasser was one of several people honoured with a press freedom award, but there were others as well

There are also journalists being recognised from Cameroon, Thailand and Mexico.

Ahmed Abba, a correspondent for Radio France Internationale’s Hausa service, was imprisoned in Cameroon in July 2015.

Afrah Nasser was forced in exile in Sweden after getting threats for her reporting in her native Yemen [CPJ]
Afrah Nasser was forced in exile in Sweden after getting threats for her reporting in her native Yemen [CPJ]

He was convicted of terrorism-related charges and sentenced in early 2017 to 10 years in prison in connection with his coverage of the armed group, Boko Haram.

Pravit Rojanaphruk, a reporter and longtime press freedom advocate in Thailand, was also cited for his “critical tone and probing reporting style” despite being under military threat.

Patricia Mayorga, a correspondent for the Mexico City-based newsmagazine Proceso, was awarded over her coverage of alleged links between Mexico’s ruling party and organised crime, forced disappearances and human rights issues, for which she received threats.

The ceremony was a reminder that threats against journalists exist in all corners of the world.

In Malta, Daphne Caruana Galizia, a prominent investigative journalist, was killed in a powerful bomb in her car. 

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Caruana Galizia ran a hugely popular blog in which she relentlessly highlighted cases of alleged high-level corruption by politicians from across party lines.

She had also exposed Malta’s links with the so-called Panama Papers document leak, which revealed the identities of the rich and powerful around the world with offshore holdings in the Central American country.

In Egypt, Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein was detained when he arrived in Cairo on a personal visit to see family.

Hussein has been held for over 330 days for what the government has called spreading false news.

Al Jazeera categorically denies the charges against Hussein and demands his immediate release.

Egypt is one of the saddest stories in the world right now. Before the uprising in 2011 there were no journalists in jail – maybe there was one from year to year – and there were no journalists murdered. Now it is the third leading jailer of journalists,” Courtney Radsch, CPJ advocacy director, told Al Jazeera.

On an evening when people who care deeply about press freedom spoke out to say the time has come to recognise journalism is not a crime.

Source: Al Jazeera