Press freedom around the world: Meet Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov, who received the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize

New Delhi | Sugandha Jha: The press is considered the fourth pillar of democracy and the media must report the facts and control everything. Thus, in order to encourage and honor journalists, the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee on behalf of the estate of Alfred Nobel. In October 2021, Filipino journalist Maria Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the face of authoritarian governments.

Interestingly, Ressa faces charges that could result in around 100 years in prison. She was even banned from attending the Nobel Prize ceremony due to travel restrictions related to lawsuits filed against her in the Philippines. She was later granted permission to attend the ceremony earlier this month by the Philippines Court of Appeals, which ruled she was not at risk of fleeing. On the other hand, Muratov is described as one of the most prominent defenders of freedom of expression in Russia today.

Here’s everything you need to know about them:

Why did they win the Nobel Peace Prize?

The Nobel committee said it recognized both men for their “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a prerequisite for democracy and lasting peace.”

The committee said it wanted to highlight the plight of journalists around the world who operate in an increasingly repressive environment.

“This prize will not solve the problems facing journalists and freedom of expression,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the committee, said at a press conference.

“But it will help shine a light on the importance of the work of journalists and how dangerous it is not just in places facing war and conflict, but all over the world,” she added.

Highlights of their work

Ressa is the co-founder of investigative digital media company Rappler, which focused on the brutal drug war waged by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. She was at the forefront of documenting Duterte’s war on drugs, which according to the international non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch resulted in the deaths of more than 12,000 Filipinos, including some 2,500 killed. by the police. Ressa has also been recognized for her work documenting how social media has been used to spread misinformation and harass political opponents.

Meanwhile, Muratov is the co-founder and editor of Novaya Gazeta, an independent newspaper that holds power accountable in President Vladimir Putin’s increasingly authoritarian Russia. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Novaya Gazeta is today the only truly critical newspaper with national influence in Russia.

“Despite the Kremlin’s success in marginalizing independent reporting, Novaya Gazeta continues to wield considerable influence with its unique and uncompromising editorial line,” added CPJ.

Muratov’s journalists were harassed and threatened, and six of them were murdered, including Igor Domnikov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, Anna Politkovskaya, Anastasia Baburova, Stanislav Markelov and Natalya Estemirova. After winning, he told Russia’s Interfax news agency that he would donate his prize money to the treatment of children with spinal muscular atrophy, while investing it in journalism. He also paid tribute to the newspaper’s journalists who were killed.

“This award is for our deceased colleagues, friends and journalists of this same newspaper,” he said.

Previous beneficiaries

In 2020, the prize was awarded to the United Nations World Food Program for its efforts to fight hunger and food insecurity in the world. Past honorees include survivors of the Taliban attack and women’s education activist Malala Yousafzai, anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and four former US presidents: Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

Posted by:
Aalok Sensharma

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