Africa: Human Rights – Belarusian Journalists Win World Press Freedom Prize

The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) was named the winner of this year’s UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on Tuesday, following the recommendation of the international jury.

BAJ was established in 1995 as a non-governmental association of media workers with the aim of promoting freedom of expression and independent journalism in Belarus.

It brings together more than 1,300 associate journalists and is a member of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ).

Repression and Violations

Since the disputed presidential election in Belarus in August 2020, which drew millions to the streets in protest in the months that followed, basic human rights have been in the crosshairs.

In March this year, the UN human rights office produced a Human Rights Council-mandated report on the situation in the European nation, which said the government’s continued crackdown had violated the rights of hundreds of thousands of people.

“The review not only lays bare the violations inflicted on people trying to exercise their basic human rights, but also highlights the inability of victims to access justice,” the human rights chief said. UN, Michelle Bachelet.


In August 2021, following a police raid on BAJ premises, the Supreme Court of Belarus ordered the organization to be dissolved, at the request of the country’s Justice Ministry.

“By awarding the award to the BAJ, we are supporting all journalists around the world who criticize, oppose and denounce politicians and authoritarian regimes, conveying truthful information and promoting freedom of expression,” said Alfred. Lela, president of the international jury of the Prize. , and founder and director of an Albanian media organization.

“Today we salute and praise them; we find a way to say: we are with you, and we appreciate your courage”.

UNESCO Director Audrey Azoulay noted that for 25 years, the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Prize “has drawn the world’s attention to the bravery of journalists around the world who sacrifice so much in the search for truth and responsibility.

“Once again, their example inspires us and reminds us of the importance of ensuring the right of journalists around the world to report freely and safely.”

story of courage

The $25,000 prize recognizes outstanding contributions to defending or promoting freedom of the press, especially in the face of danger. It is named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, the Colombian journalist assassinated outside the offices of his newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá, Colombia, on December 17, 1986.

It is funded by Guillermo Cano Isaza Foundation (Colombia), Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland), Namibia Media Trust, Democracy & Media Foundation Stichting Democracy & Media (Netherlands) and Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The 2022 World Press Freedom Day Global Conference will be held from May 2-5 under the theme Journalism Under Digital Siege.

The conference will discuss the impact of the digital age on freedom of expression, safety of journalists, access to information and privacy.

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