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Somalia: Press gallery honours Somali journalist

Sunday June 20, 2010 - 01:18:12 in Latest News by Super Admin
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    Somalia: Press gallery honours Somali journalist

    The BBC World Service head of Africa region, Jerry Timmins, accepted the award of behalf of Hassan

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The BBC World Service head of Africa region, Jerry Timmins, accepted the award of behalf of Hassan

A BBC World Service journalist described as "the voice of the voiceless" in Somalia has been honoured at a reception in the House of Commons.

Mohammed Olad Hassan was not able to attend the event in Speaker's House this week, where he was awarded the Speaker Abbott Award for his promotion of democracy.

George Parker, chairmen of the press gallery, thanked Mr Speaker for the use of his state rooms for the event, and praised Hassan's "selfless, fearless reporting".

He also expressed his admiration for journalists such as Hassan who defend free speech and democracy at great personal risk to themselves.

Speaker Bercow said he was pleased to host the Speaker Abbott Awards "in the common spirit of respect and recognition" of Hassan's "bravery, resourcefulness and ingenuity".

He said that this year's winner carried out his work for the BBC under "constant threat to his physical safety".

Mr Speaker praised Hassan's desire to put his professional duty first and said was a worthy recipient of the award.

"I am delighted to see people from all party backgrounds here today to support people who take risks for human rights," he said.

The BBC World Service head of Africa region, Jerry Timmins, accepted the award of behalf of Hassan.

He revealed he had spoken to the prize-winner earlier that day, who expressed delight at his award on behalf of his family, friends, colleagues and other Somali journalists.

Timmins said Hassan is a great example of World Service staff who "live the story as it unfolds around them".

Hassan asked Timmins to tell all those present he will continue to be "a voice for the voiceless" in his Somali homeland.

Lord Avebury, one of this year's judges, later wrote on his blog of his unhappiness that Hassan could not attend the event as he was refused a visa by the UKBA.

"The reason I was told, at second hand, was that he hadn't submitted payslips showing his earnings from the BBC with his application for a visa," he wrote.

"We must establish an agreed protocol for ensuring that in future years' problems over visas for the Abbott Award winners don't prevent them attending at the last moment."

The awards have been presented since 2003, but faced a bleak future this year until Tribune magazine stepped in to sponsor it.

The Speaker Abbott Award is named after the first Speaker to allow the press access to the Commons.

It is presented to the journalist considered to have made the greatest contribution internationally to the protection, promotion and perpetuation of parliamentary democracy.

It aims to honour and secure exposure for those who suffer for the cause of democracy.

PHOTO: Deryc R Sands - Parliamentary Copyright.


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