France: UNESCO to honour jailed Eritrean-Swedish journo on World Press Freedom Day

Paris, France (PANA) - Jailed Eritrean-Swedish playwright, journalist and writer Dawit Isaak will be awarded the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize  on 3 May in Jakarta, Indonesia, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced Friday.

Dawit, 53,  was arrested in the September 2001 crackdown on Eritrea's independent press. The crackdown saw eight privately-owned newspapers closed down. He was the owner of the weekly newspaper Setit.

According to UNESCO, the last time he was heard from was in 2005. His present location is unknown.

The prize giving will be part of UNESCO's World Press Freedom Day celebrations in the Indonesian capital.

The theme for this year's  four-day celebration which starts on 1 April is: 'Critical Minds for Critical Times: The media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies'.

An independent international jury of media professionals recommended unanimously Dawit Isaak in recognition of his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression, and the recommendation was endorsed by the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

“Defending fundamental freedoms calls for determination and courage – it calls for fearless advocates,” said Bokova. “This is the legacy of Guillermo Cano, and the message we send today with this decision to highlight the work of Dawit Isaak.”

“Dawit joins a long list of courageous journalists who have persevered to shed light in the dark spaces; keeping their communities informed against all odds,” said Cilla Benkö, President of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017 Jury. “Some have given their lives in the pursuit of truth. Many have been imprisoned. Dawit Isaak has spent nearly 16 years in jail, without charge or trial. I sincerely hope that with this award the world will say, ‘Free Dawit Isaak Now.’”

Ms Bokova will award the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to Dawit who will be represented by his daughter, Bethelem Isaak, during a ceremony that will be hosted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

The $25,000 Prize 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, on 17 December 1986. It is funded by the Cano Foundation (Colombia) and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland).

The programme of the four-day event has been designed to raise awareness of the importance of free and fact based journalism in promoting peace and justice, and supporting the efficiency, accountability and inclusiveness of institutions, in line with the 16th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal.

-0- PANA DJ/AR 28April2017

28 april 2017 16:42:43

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