Director-General Irina Bokova and Christiane Amanpour speak out for UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize Laureate, Ms Khadija Ismayilova

On 9 May, the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Ms Christiane Amanpour, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression and Journalist Safety, reviewed the success of this year’s World Press Freedom Day main event, held in Helsinki, on 3 May, 2016.

This largest ever International Conference brought together 1,100 experts, officials and journalists from across the world, to stand together for freedom of expression and press freedom. 

On this occasion, the 2016 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize was awarded to Ms Khadija Ismayilova, from Azerbaijan, jailed since 2014. Created by UNESCO in 1997, this prize honors a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defense and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger. 

When the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize has previously been given to a journalist in prison, the high visibility and support provided by UNESCO have always brought about their release. This was the case for the previous winner Mr Mazen Darwish, President of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, 2015 Prize Laureate, now released and who was able to attend the conference in Helsinki. 

In this spirit, Irina Bokova and Christiane Amanpour hereby repeat their call to the Government and authorities of Azerbaijan for the immediate release of Ms Khadija Ismayilova from prison.