RSF’s 2023 Press Freedom Prize winners
At a ceremony on 28 November in Brussels, the 31st annual Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Prize was awarded to Colombian investigative reporter Juan Pablo Barrientos for Impact, Egyptian blogger Mohamed Oxygen for Courage, Guatemalan newspaper editor Jose Rubén Zamora for Independence, and French photographer Karine Pierre in the “Lucas Dolega-SAIF” Photo category.
Every year, the RSF Press Freedom Prize honours journalists and media outlets whose work has made an exceptional contribution to the defence or promotion of press freedom across the world. This year’s laureates were chosen from among 21 nominees from 18 different countries.
Those attending the 2023 awards ceremony in Brussels included Oleksandra Matviichuk, the 2022 Nobel peace laureate and head of Ukraine’s Centre for Civil Liberties, and European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova.
Juan Pablo Barrientos won the Prize for Impact for exposing criminal activity and corruption in Colombia despite harassment and censorship. Blogger Mohamed Oxygen received the Prize for Courage for covering protests in Egypt although he knew he could be jailed. Jose Rubén Zamora, the owner and editor of Guatemala’s elPeriódico newspaper, was awarded the Prize for Independence for investigating corruption despite judicial harassment that ended in imprisonment. And Karine Pierre won in the “Lucas Dolega-SAIF” Photo category for her poignant reportage Take me home! about two centres for hundreds of rejected women and children in Pakistan.
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.
Prize for Courage
Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan (Mohamed Oxygen) (Egypt)
Known by the pseudonym of Mohamed Oxygen from his blog, Egypt’s Oxygen, Mohamed Radwan was placed under surveillance and not allowed to return to work when released in early 2019 after serving a five-year prison sentence. But when protests broke out in September of that year, he covered them regardless. His commitment to the right to information was seen as an act of defiance by the authorities. He was arrested and sentenced to another five years in prison for “publishing false news.” In today's Egypt, the name of Mohamed Oxygen is synonymous with courageous journalism.
Prize for Impact
Juan Pablo Barrientos (Colombia)
Last year, thanks to this journalist’s work, Colombia learned the identities of 26 Catholic priests who had been accused of sex crimes. The author of the book Dejad que los Niños Vengan a Mí (“Let the Children Come to Me”), Juan Pablo Barrientos had been persecuted and subjected to censorship attempts for seven years because of his investigations into this subject and corruption. His reporting has enabled Colombians to identify criminals and to fight against impunity.
Prize for Independence
Jose Rubén Zamora (Guatemala)
The founder and editor of elPeriódico, a newspaper that exposed Guatemalan political corruption for two decades, Jose Rubén Zamora was subjected to growing threats and judicial harassment. In July 2022, he was arrested on a trumped-up money-laundering charge and spent almost a year in pre-trial detention, before his newspaper was forced to close in May 2023. His sentence of six years in prison in June 2023 was overturned on appeal on 13 October, but he remained in detention until a new trial was held.
“Lucas Dolega-SAIF” Photo Prize
Karine Pierre (France)
Karine Pierre began self-taught photography during the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 and joined the Hans Lucas agency at the end of 2017. After covering the front line in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, she based herself in Beirut for two years. She continues her long-term projects while collaborating with such newspapers as Le Monde, The Washington Post… In Pakistan, she produced Take me home!, a series documenting violence against women in two reception centres in the cities of Karachi and Multan. Repudiated by their husbands, rejected by their families, the victims of years of abuse, most of these women will spend the rest of their lives within these walls.