Thursday, 3 May 2012

UN declares World Press Freedom Day - May 3, 2012

Awards prize to Azerbaijani journalist 


The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3rd to be World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.

UNESCO marks World Press Freedom Day by conferring the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on a deserving individual, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger. Created in 1997, the prize is awarded on the recommendation of an independent jury of 14 news professionals. Names are submitted by regional and international non-governmental organizations working for press freedom, and by UNESCO member states.
 
The prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogotá, on 17 December 1986. Cano's writings had offended Colombia's powerful drug barons.

This year's recipient is Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev (photo, right). He is the former editor-in-chief and founder of the popular independent Russian-language weekly Realny Azerbaijan (Real Azerbaijan) and the Azeri-language daily Gundalik Azarbaycan (Azerbaijan Daily) newspapers. Throughout his career, he has spoken out for freedom of the press and freedom of expression. Imprisoned in 2007, he was released last year by presidential pardon on Azerbaijan’s Republic Day, May 26 - an event that was welcomed by the international community. In July 2011 Mr Fatullayev founded the “Public Union for Human Rights", a non-governmental human rights organization. 

Since its creation the prize has been awarded to the following laureates: Ahmad Zeidabadi (Iran, 2011), Mónica González Mujica (Chile, 2010), Lasantha Wickrematunge (Sri Lanka, 2009), Lydia Cacho (Mexico, 2008), Anna Politkovskaya (Russian Federation, 2007), 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).

UNESCO also marks World Press Freedom Day each year by bringing together media professionals, press freedom organisations and UN agencies to assess the state of press freedom worldwide and discuss solutions for addressing challenges. Each conference is centred around a theme related to press freedom, including good governance, media coverage of terrorism, impunity and the role of media in post-conflict countries. This year's gathering is taking place in Tunis.