The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is awarded every year to a person, organisation 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.
The award is named after Colombian journalist Guillermo Cano, who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogotá, on 17 December 1986.
2015 Winner – Mazen Darwish, Syria
The winner of the 2015 Prize has been given to the lawyer and free speech advocate Mazen Darwish from Syria, who is currently imprisoned. The award comes with a $25,000 cash prize and will be awarded during the celebration of World Press Freedom day on May 3.
Darwish is the president of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (CMFE) and one of the founders of the Voice newspaper and syriaview.net, an independent news site banned by the Syrian authorities.
Darwish was arrested on 16 February 2012 with no official statements of his whereabouts or status. A High Representative of the European Union, along with a range of human rights organisations have condemned the arrest.
In celebration of this years Prize, awarded to Mazen Darwish of Syria, we take a brief look back at some of the most recent winners of the award.
Previous winners of the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize
2014 – Ahmet Şık, Turkey
Ahmet Şık is an investigative journalist who was imprisoned in 2011–2012 just prior to the publication of his book entitled “The Imam’s Army”, which was seized and banned.
2013 – Reeyot Alemu, Ethiopia
Reeyot Alemu is a journalist who has written critically about political and social issues, focusing on the root causes of poverty and gender inequality. She was imprisoned in 2011 on charges of terrorism and is serving a 5 year sentence.
2012 – Eynulla Fatullayev, Azerbaijan
Eynulla Fatullayev is a journalist and editor of the Russian language weekly Realny Azerbaijan. He was imprisoned in Azerbaijan for 4 years for his criticism of government policies.
2011 – Ahmad Zeidabadi, Iran
Ahmed Zeidabadi is a journalist, academic, writer and political analyst who has been arrested multiple times for his journalistic work. in 2009 he was sentenced to prison and lifetime ban on social and political activities
2010 – Mónica González Mujica, Chile
Mónica González Mujica is a newspaper editor, investigative journalist, and director of the Center of Journalism and Investigation in Santiago, Chile. She has been imprisoned numerous times, especially for her reporting of the military dictatorship in the 1980s.