RSF Press Freedom Awards 2022 ceremony in the presence of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov

At a ceremony on 12 December in Paris in the presence of 2021 Nobel peace laureate Dmitry Muratov, the 30th annual Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Prize was awarded to Iranian journalist Narges Mohammadi for Courage, Ukrainian journalists Mstyslav Chernov and Yevhen Maloletka for Impact, and Moroccan journalist Omar Radi for Independence.

For the past 30 years, the RSF Press Freedom Prize has been honouring journalists and media outlets whose work has made an exceptional contribution to the defence or promotion of press freedom across the world.

After award ceremonies in London, Berlin and Taipei in recent years, this year’s award ceremony was held at a venue on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in the presence of French culture minister Rima Abdul Malak and her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksandr Tkachenko, as well as Dmitry Muratov, the editor of the Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian journalist who is currently imprisoned, was awarded the RSF Prize for Courage for her tireless fight for press freedom and human rights. Ukrainian journalists Mstyslav Chernov and Yevhen Maloletka, the only reporters to cover the bombardment of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol for three weeks, were awarded the Prize for Impact. And Omar Radi, a Moroccan journalist who has been subjected to judicial harassment for his investigative reporting on sensitive subjects, and who is also currently in prison, was awarded the Prize for Independence. In all, 15 journalists and media outlets from 15 different countries were nominated for this year’s RSF Prize.

In a speech opening the event, Muratov paid tribute to his Novaya Gazeta colleague Anna Politkovskaya, and to the 1,200 other journalists murdered in the past 15 years. Referring to “a new era of confrontation between dictatorial or authoritarian regimes and independent journalism,” he added: “Once journalists were killed but now entire media are liquidated.” In this regard, he saluted the courage of his fellow Nobel peace laureate, the Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, who is now facing a possible 100-year prison sentence.

“Each year, the prize is awarded to extraordinary people who exercise journalism so that democracy and human rights can exist, so that the challenges facing humanity can be addressed, globally and locally, in order, as Albert Camus simply put it, to prevent the world from unravelling,”  said RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire, at the opening of the award ceremony. 

This year’s jury, composed of leading journalists and free speech defenders from around the world, was chaired by Pierre Haski, the French journalist and columnist who is RSF’s president. Three former RSF laureates took part in the ceremony and presented the various prizes: Can Dündar, the former editor of the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet; Lina Attalah, co-founder and editor of the independent Egyptian newspaper Mada Masr; and Matthew Caruana Galizia, an investigative journalist and son of Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist who was killed by a bomb planted in her car in 2017.

 

Prize for Courage 

Narges Mohammadi (Iran) 

Repeatedly imprisoned during the past 12 years for fighting for press freedom and human rights, Narges Mohammadi is a symbol of courage. Even in prison, she has not stopped providing information about the appalling plight of prisoners in Iran, especially women prisoners. Her life has been a battle in which she has had to make many sacrifices so that her voice could be heard. Married to a journalist, Taghi Rahmani, she has two children she has not seen grow up, having spent only a few months out of prison since 2011. Despite having heart problems, she has been mistreated and tortured and has been given 154 lashes. But she does not lose hope and continues to call for civil disobedience, always with a smile on her lips. She has written dozens of articles from prison, has made a documentary and has even published a book entitled White Torture, based on her interviews with 16 prisoners.

 

Prize for Impact

Mstyslav Tchernov et Yevhen Maloletka (Ukraine

Reporting for the Associated Press, they were the only journalists to have documented the impact of the fighting and artillery bombardments in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol for 20 days in March 2022 for the international media. Their photo of a pregnant woman injured in the shelling of a maternity hospital went around the world and drew international public opinion’s attention to what was happening in the besieged city. They worked in extremely difficult conditions, with the Russian army looking for them because of the impact of their photos, but they were helped by the population, who were aware of the importance of their work.

 

Prize for Independence

Omar Radi (Morocco)

This investigative reporter and human rights activist has been subjected to judicial harassment for covering corruption and other sensitive subjects for more than ten years. The authorities began investigating him on suspicion of spying in June 2020, shortly after Amnesty International reported that the Pegasus spyware had been used to hack into his phone. A month later, he was jailed on the basis of a rape allegation and ended up being tried simultaneously on the completely different rape and spying charges, increasing doubts about the fairness of the trial. He was sentenced to six years in prison in July 2021. The authorities had been targeting him for at least three years prior to this trial. He began a hunger strike in April 2021 in protest against his detention but had to abandon it after 21 days because he suffers from Crohn’s disease, and has been in very poor health ever since.

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