The Namibia Media Trust (NMT) became the first African donor to support the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The organization will commit total funds of US$ 10,000 for 2018-2019.The prize is a recognition of the work of journalists who have fought for the defense and promotion of press freedom and freedom of expression the world over.
The Namibia Media Trust has supported a free and self-sustainable media climate in Africa where independent media can prosper and contribute to the building of inclusive societies. The activities of the Namibia Media Trust cover policy interventions and advocacy, research on ICT policies and capacity building for journalists and media professionals.
“Through its contribution to the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, the Namibia Media Trust remains true to its objectives, which are to promote media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information in Namibia and beyond. UNESCO is a longstanding partner and we are proud, as an African organization, to showcase our commitment to press freedom through this effort”, said Zoe Titus, Strategic coordinator at the Namibia Media Trust when signing the two-year agreement.
She also explained the reason for their commitment by stressing the importance of investigative journalism. “It’s in our interest to deepen and promote media as a credible source of information, a spotlight on abuse and injustice, a driver of growth and an important platform for citizens’ voices”, she noted.
The initiative is compelling for UNESCO considering that this is the first donation that comes from Sub-Saharan Africa for the prize. “We are proud that an African organization joins us for the first time as a supporter of the prize,” said Sylvie Coudray, Chief of the Freedom of Expression Section at UNESCO.
“By the virtue of the Namibia Media Trust’s actions, we have more empowered voices of Africa in the field of press freedom. NMT’s support to the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Prize will be a step forward for UNESCO in building key partnerships and a new step for a key African institution to participate in the global agenda on freedom of expression,” Coudray added.
A key milestone has been the Windhoek Declaration in 1991, and since then, UNESCO has regarded media freedom in its programmes as one of the fundamental conditions to ensure sustainable democracy and protection of human rights. The Trust’s donation will be a direct contribution to the spirit of the Windhoek Declaration and shed a new light on regional challenges in Africa to empower African voices.
In Sylvie Coudray’s words, “the Declaration, a statement of press freedom principles written by African newspaper journalists, has become the groundwork for stakeholders in the media sector as well as for UNESCO’s activities in the field of Freedom of Expression”.