News from the Committee to Protect Journalists, October 2010
CPJ announces 2010 press freedom awards
Media repression in Iran, Ethiopia, Russia and Venezuela will be under the spotlight next month when CPJ presents the 2010 International Press Freedom Awards in New York City. CPJ announced the winners this month:Dawit Kebede of Ethiopia, Nadira Isayeva of Russia, Laureano Márquez of Venezuela and Mohammad Davari of Iran. All have put their personal freedom and security on the line to report the news. CPJ's Burton Benjamin Memorial Award will go to Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Society Institute, to mark his long career in defense of press freedom and human rights.
The awards ceremony and benefit dinner, now in its 20th year, will be held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on Tuesday, November 23. Sir Howard Stringer, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Sony Corp., will be the chairman of the benefit. Brian Williams, a CPJ board member and anchor and managing editor of NBC's "Nightly News," will be the host.
Sri Lankan journalist J.S. Tissainayagam will appear as a special guest to receive his 2009 International Press Freedom Award at last. CPJ and others helped win Tissainayagam's freedom in May.
To attend the awards dinner, please contact CPJ's development office at 212-465-1004 x113. For more information about the award winners and CPJ's work, visit our website at www.cpj.org, or call 212-465-1004 x105.
Russian investigators vow to pursue journalist murder cases
A high-level CPJ delegation visited Moscow at the end of September and won a pledge from Russian investigators to pursue 19 cases of murdered journalists that CPJ had documented. The promise was big news and played prominently in the international media.
The CPJ delegation, led by board member Kati Marton and CPJ Chairman Paul Steiger, met with Aleksandr Bastrykin, chairman of the Investigative Committee, and a dozen investigators probing individual cases of murdered journalists. CPJ first met with the investigators during a 2009 mission when we published Anatomy of Injustice: The Unsolved Killings of Journalists in Russia. Investigators invited CPJ to return to Moscow this year for an update.
"It's a matter of honor for us to solve these murders," Bastrykin told the CPJ delegation. "It's a matter of proving our professionalism."
The Investigative Committee, responsible for probing the most serious crimes in Russia, has recently been given greater autonomy and now reports directly to President Dmitry Medvedev.
"We were encouraged by our three-hour-long meeting with the Investigative Committee and the thorough, detailed briefing we received," Marton said. "Investigators reported progress in a number of cases. Of course, we will not be satisfied until we see prosecutions and convictions."
CPJ meets Mexican president
Building on the widespread media coverage of our report Silence or Death in Mexico's Press, CPJ sent a delegation to Mexico to meet with President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.
Calderón pledged to push for legislation making attacks on journalists a federal crime and said the right to free expression was a priority of his government. The president spent nearly two hours with a delegation from CPJ and the Inter American Press Association. He said federal authorities are about to launch a program providing security for at-risk journalists modeled after a successful effort in Colombia. He also announced the arrest of a suspect in the 2008 murder of prominent Ciudad Juarez reporter Armando Rodríguez Carreón, a killing that shook the Mexican press corps.
CPJ supporters can read more about the Mexico mission on our new Facebook page in Spanish, CPJ en Español.
Two special reports spotlights press freedom violations in Kazakhstan and Yemen
CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova launched a report on Kazakhstan's woeful press freedom record during her recent visit to Vienna, headquarters of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Kazakhstan currently serves as the chairman of the organization, whose stated mission includes promoting human rights. In a meeting with CPJ, a Kazakh official pledged that the country would bring its press laws in line with international standards.
A report by Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem on repression in Yemen prompted an angry response from officials in that country, although CPJ's findings went undisputed.
Gypsy Guillén Kaiser joins CPJ
Gypsy Guillén Kaiser assumed the new position of advocacy and communications director at CPJ in October. Gypsy moved from Berlin, Germany, where she handled communications and outreach for Transparency International.