7 April 2007
Accepting the recommendation of an independent international jury of media professionals, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, today designated Anna Politkovskaya, the late Russian journalist, as the laureate of the 2007 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.Kavi Chongkittavorn, President of the UNESCO/Guillermo World Cano Press Freedom Prize jury of fourteen professional journalists and editors from all over the world, explained the jury's choice:
"Anna Politkovskaya showed incredible courage and stubbornness in chronicling events in Chechnya after the whole world had given up on that conflict. Her dedication and fearless pursuits of the truth set the highest benchmark of journalism, not only for Russia but for the rest of the world. Indeed, Anna's courage and commitment were so remarkable, that we decided, for the first time, to award the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize posthumously."
Born in 1958, Ms Politkovskaya studied at the school of journalism of Moscow State University. She was a columnist for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper. An outspoken campaigner for human rights, Ms Politkovskaya was particularly well known for the hundreds of articles she published on the conflict in Chechnya. Her work was recognized nationally and internationally. She received the Golden Pen of Russia award, a Special Diploma of the Jury of the Andrei Sakharov Prize "For the Life Sacrificed to Journalism" and the Olof Palme Prize, to name but a few. She was killed in the entrance of her home in Moscow on October 7, 2006.
The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is awarded annually on World Press Freedom Day (3 May). Created in 1997 by UNESCO’s Executive Board, it honours the work of an individual or an organization defending or promoting freedom of expression anywhere in the world, especially if this action puts the individual’s life at risk. Candidates are proposed by UNESCO Member States, and regional or international organizations that defend and promote freedom of expression.
This year, the 10th anniversary of the Prize, World Press Freedom Day will be celebrated in Medellin, Colombia, the home city of Guillermo Cano, the newspaper publisher after whom the Prize is named. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Guillermo Cano for denouncing the activities of powerful drug barons in his country. The 2007 Press Freedom Day celebration will focus on the safety of journalists and the problem of impunity of crimes against journalists.
Since its creation, the US $25,000 prize, financed by the Cano and Ottaway foundations, has been awarded to the following laureates: May Chidiac (Lebanon, 2006), Cheng Yizhong, (China, 2005), Raúl Rivero (Cuba, 2004), Amira Hass (Israel, 2003), Geoffrey Nyarota (Zimbabwe, 2002), U Win Tin (Myanmar, 2001), Nizar Nayyouf (Syria, 2000), Jesus Blancornelas (Mexico, 1999), Christina Anyanwu (Nigeria, 1998), Gao Yu (China, 1997).