Anna Politkovskaya, the esteemed Russian journalist and outspoken human rights campaigner who was killed last October, will be awarded the prestigious 2007 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, the first time the honour has been bestowed posthumously in its 10-year history.
Particularly well-known for her coverage of the conflict in Chechnya as a columnist for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, her work was recognized worldwide. She was the recipient of the Golden Pen of Russia award and the Special Diploma of the Jury of the Andrei Sakharov Prize “For the Life Sacrificed to Journalism,” among many others.
Ms. Politkovskaya, who was born in 1958, was killed in the entrance of her home on 7 October 2006.
She “showed incredible courage and stubbornness in chronicling events in Chechnya after the whole world had given up on that conflict,” said Kavi Chongkittavorn, President of the jury of 14 independent journalists and editors from all over the world. “Her dedication and fearless pursuit of the truth set the highest benchmark in journalism, not only for Russia but for the rest of the world.”
Shortly after her murder which was roundly condemned, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura called for those responsible for her death to receive sentences “commensurate with the gravity of their actions to prevent the sense that the killing of journalists can be tolerated with impunity.”
The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, created in 1997 by UNESCO’s Executive Board, honours an individual or organization defending or promoting the freedom of expression anywhere in the world, especially if the work puts the person’s life at risk. Candidates are nominated by UN Member States, regional groups or international organizations that work on issues pertaining to freedom of expression.
The award is given out annually on 3 May to coincide with World Press Freedom Day. To mark the tenth anniversary of the Prize, the day will be commemorated in Medellin, Colombia, the hometown of Guillermo Cano, the newspaper publisher for whom the award is named.
Mr. Cano was assassinated 20 years ago for criticizing the activities of powerful drug barons in his country.
To date, the $25,000 Prize has been awarded to May Chidiac of Lebanon in 2006, Cheng Yizhong of China in 2005, Raul Rivero of Cuba in 2004, Amira Hass of Israel in 2003, Geoffrey Nyarota of Zimbabwe in 2002, U Win Tin of Myanmar in 2001, Nizar Nayyouf of Syria in 2000, Jesus Blancornelas of Mexico in 1999, Christina Anyanwu of Nigeria in 1998 and Gao Yu of China in 1997.