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UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize 2021 – Maria Ressa Filipino Journalist – PDF


  • The UN’s cultural agency has awarded its annual press freedom prize to the Filipino journalist Maria Ressa whose reporting has made her a target of her country’s judiciary and online hate campaigns
  • Ressa, a former Asia lead investigative reporter for US network CNN and head of domestic network ABS-CBN News, now manages the news website Rappler
  • She has been involved in many international initiatives to promote press freedom, and arrested several times “for alleged crimes related to the exercise of her profession”
  • She has also been subject to a sustained campaign of gendered online abuse, threats, and harassment, the agency said in a statement. At one point she received an average of over 90 hateful messages an hour
  • Ressa, who is 57, was in court last month to deny charges of dodging taxes as authorities continued a crackdown against the country’s independent media.
  • Rappler was three years ago branded a “fake news outlet” by Duterte and Ressa has since been the subject of at least 11 investigations into her business.
  • Maria Ressa’s unerring fight for freedom of expression is an example for many journalists around the world.
  • Her case is emblematic of global trends that represent a real threat to press freedom, and therefore to democracy
  • In her speech during the ceremony, Ressa highlighted the attacks against Filipino journalists, human rights activists, and ordinary citizens under President Rodrigo Duterte.

UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

  • UNESCO’s press freedom prize is named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, the Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá, Colombia, on 17 December 1986.
  • The $25,000 Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the defence or promotion of press freedom, especially in the face of danger.

  • It is funded by the Guillermo Cano Isaza Foundation (Colombia), the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland) and the Namibia Media Trust.
  • The murder of Guillermo Cano is significant in terms of unpunished crimes against journalists.
  • Cano was a victim of drug trafficking mafias, which he fearlessly denounced and about whose harmful effects on Colombian society he cautioned.
  • On 17 December 1986, two hired killers waited for him by the newspaper’s exit and fired the eight shots that killed him. The magistrates in charge of the investigation became the object of threats and bribes, with some being murdered for rejecting such bribes.
  • The life of Guillermo Cano, his courage, his compromise with independent journalism and the tenacity with which he fought for his country are an example for the rest of the world to follow.
  • Hosted by UNESCO and the Government of Namibia, the 2021 World Press Freedom Day Global Conference will be held from 29 April to 3 May under the theme of information as a public good, and will focus on topics such as transparency of online platforms and the importance of media and information literacy.
  • The conference will also tackle ways to promote and support independent media struggling to survive a crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when national and local media everywhere face financial instability and other pressures threatening their survival and their journalists’ jobs.



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