While journalists around the world contend with the prospects of job cuts and outlet closures, some face much more serious dangers: persecution, imprisonment, threats, violence, and death.

The Doha Centre for Media Freedom was created as a refuge for such journalists, who risk their life or their freedom in the line of duty.

That may mean literal shelter or refuge for journalists on the run from threats. The Doha Centre also provides day-to-day assistance in the form of financial assistance for medical care, legal costs, and support for threatened media outlets, journalists and their families. The Doha Centre also attempts to address the causes of threats to journalists by advocating for peace and understanding of diversity, promoting dialogue, and providing resources for education.

In just the past week, The Doha Centre has:

• Provided support to Iraqi journalist Omar al-Ibadi, who fled Iraq with his family after receiving death threats.

• Condemned an Israeli official’s announcement that al-Jazeera employees would not have their visas renewed and their access to press conferences would be restricted.

• Given a grant to the family of Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who was arrested after throwing a shoe at George W Bush. The family had been receiving threats. Meanwhile, al-Zaidi’s lawyer says his physical and mental state is at risk after more than 40 days in jail. No date is set for al-Zaidi’s trial, but if convicted of assault he faces a jail term of five to fifteen years.

• Called for the release of hunger-striking Fabio Prieto Llorente, one of 21 journalists imprisoned in Cuba. There are fears for Prieto Llorente’s health. In January he wrote to president Raul Castro about the conditions for prisoners at El Guayabo, including cramped cells, “rotten burnt animal food” and forced labor.

• Assisted with the defense fund for Boussada Ben Ali, editor of Niger’s independent newspaper L’Action. Ben Ali was arrested in late January, accused of publishing false information Niger’s finance minister and embezzlement from an oil contract between Niger and China.

The organization was created in December 2007 by a decree of Qatar’s emir, H.H Sheikh Hamad vin Kalifa al-Thani. Its board is led by Sheikh Hamad bin Thalmer al-Thani, chairman of al-Jazeera.

Similar organizations:

Committee to Protect Journalists
This non-profit head-quartered in New York keeps a running tally of journalists killed, threatened and imprisoned.

International Federation of Journalists
Brussels-based organization promotes journalists’ safety, professional and industrial rights.

Reporters Sans Frontiers
Issues the Worldwise Press Freedom Index each October, ranking the degree of freedom journalists have in over 160 countries.

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