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Helsingin Sanomat Foundation continues sponsoring UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

04 October 2017

UNESCO and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation have renewed their cooperation for the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize until 2020. The foundation will support the prize with an annual contribution of 15,000 EUR for the next three years.

UNESCO seeks additional partners to join in providing contributions to the Prize, which awards a person, organization or institution that has made a notable contribution to the defense and promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world.

 “Press freedom and freedom of speech are fundamental pillars of democracy and thus at the core of our activities,” says President of the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, Ulla Koski. “The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation is happy to continue supporting the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in the coming three years.”

The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation has supported the Prize for the past five years, most recently awarded to Eritrean-born journalist Dawit Isaak whose daughter received the Prize on his behalf in Jakarta, Indonesia in May 2017.

The Prize has existed for 20 years;  it was established on the initiative of UNESCO's Executive Board and is formally conferred annually by the Organization’s Director-General on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May. The value of the prize is equivalent to 25,000 USD. It is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá, Colombia on 17 December 1986.

“The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is one of the leading recognitions worldwide on press freedom and the only one in existence within the United Nations system,” says Sylvie Coudray, Chief of Section for Freedom of Expression at UNESCO. She notes that the Prize has become more visible internationally, highlighting individual commitments towards freedom of expression and the challenges and risks the press is facing in today’s world.

In the last five years, four of the five Prize laureates were imprisoned at the time of receiving the award. After receiving the Prize, three of them were later released.

“It is a testament to the impact of the Prize and its potential to contribute to press freedom around the world,” Ms Coudray summarized.

Journalists are living under constant threats. According to UNESCO’s own statistics, issued every second year by in the UNESCO’s Director-General’s Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity and in alternate years in the World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Reports, over 800 journalists have been killed in line of duty during the last decade. Most were local journalists working on local stories.

The next UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize will be awarded in Accra, Ghana, which is hosting the international event for the next World Press Freedom Day on 3 and 4 May 2018. The deadline for submitting new candidates for nomination is 15 February 2018.