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Paraguayan journalist wins prize for defending press freedom

Paraguay’s Candido Figueredo Ruiz is one of the media professionals being honoured by the Committee to Protect Journalists for their commitment to defending freedom of the press, the organisation said on Tuesday.

The CPJ, with headquarters in New York, said in a communique that being honoured besides Figueredo Ruiz are Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque of Malaysia, a bloggers’ group from Ethiopia and a journalist collective from Syria.

“Whether through blogs or traditional media outlets, or by drawing cartoons, they risk their personal safety and freedom to bring us the news,” said CPJ executive director Joel Simon.

Figueredo Ruiz works in Pedro Juan Caballero city, on the border with Brazil, for the leading Paraguayan daily ABC Color.

He has received constant death threats and has had to live under police protection around the clock “because of his reporting on drug smuggling on the Brazil-Paraguay border”.

The CPJ has documented the death of at least five journalists since 1992 in Paraguay for their reporting. Three of them died last year, including another ABC Color reporter on the border, Pablo Medina Velazquez.

Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, pen name “Zunar”, is the first cartoonist to receive a CPJ award, the organisation said.

He is accused of sedition and “faces a potential 43-year jail term for drawings lampooning high-level abuse in the Malaysian government”, the note said.

Also honoured are members of the Zone 9 group of bloggers in Ethiopia. Six members of the group were arrested, jailed and accused of terrorism “in retaliation for critical reporting”, the CPJ said.

Another prizewinner is the citizen journalist collective in Syria that goes by the name of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, considered “one of the few independent news sources that continues to report from inside the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital”.

The prizes will be awarded at a CPJ dinner in New York on November 24.