BAJ was founded in 1995 as a non-governmental association of media workers with the goal of promoting freedom of speech and the non-professional press in Belarus.
It gathers 1,300 affiliated journalistsand is a member of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ).
Crackdown and Violations
Since the controversial presidential election in Belarus in August 2020, which drew millions of people to the streets to protest in the following months, basic human rights was in the cross chairs.
In March of this year, the United Nations human rights office released a Dong Nhan Quyen Association-report was reprimanded about the situation in the European country, which said continued Government repression violated the rights of hundreds of thousands of people.
“The examination not only reveals violations perpetrated by those attempting to exercise their basic human rights, but also highlights the victims’ ability to access justice,” said Michelle Bachelet, said the UN rights officer.
In August 2021, following a police raid on the offices of the BAJ, the Belarusian Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of the organization at the request of the Ministry of Justice of the country.
“Via awarding the BAJ, we stand with all journalists worldwide who criticize, oppose and expose politicians and dictatorshipsby transmitting truthful information and promoting freedom of expression”, said Alfred Lela, President of the International Jury of the Prize, and founder and director of an Albanian media organization .
“Today we greet and praise them; We found a way to say it: we are with you, and we appreciate your courage”.
Leader UNESCOAudrey Azoulay notes that for 25 years, the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Prize “has called the world’s attention to the courage of journalists worldwide, who have sacrificed so much in the pursuit of truth and accountability.
“Once again, we are inspired by their example and a reminder of the importance of ensuring the right of journalists everywhere to report freely and securely.”
The History of Courage
The $25,000 award recognizes outstanding contributions to the defense or promotion of press freedom, especially in the face of danger. It is named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, the Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of his newsroom office. El Espectador in Bogotá, Colombia, on December 17, 1986.
It is sponsored by Guillermo Cano Isaza Foundation (Colombia), Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland), Namibia Media Trust, Democracy & Media Foundation Stichting Democratie & Media (Netherlands), and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The 2022 World Press Freedom Day global conference will take place from May 2 to 5 with the theme Journalism under the Digital Siege.
The conference will discuss the impact of the digital age on freedom of expression, the safety of journalists, access to information and privacy.