Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu has emerged the winner of the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, UNESCO confirmed today after a jury decision.
According to a UNESCO statement, Ms Alemu was recommended by an independent international jury of media professionals in recognition of her “exceptional courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression.”
Alemu wrote critically about political and social issues, focusing on the root causes of poverty, and gender equality and published in many independent Medias. Reeyot Alemu was courageous, in 201o, she founded her own publishing house and a monthly magazine called Change, both of which were subsequently closed. In June 2011, while working as a regular columnist for Feteh, a national weekly newspaper, Ms Alemu was arrested. She is currently serving a five year sentence in Kality prison.
The UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize was created in 1997 by UNESCO’s Executive Board. It is awarded annually during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, which will take place this year in Costa Rica.
Reeyot Alemu was imprisoned in Ethiopia for more than a year on allegations of terrorism. According to International Women’s Media Foundation, she is one of many journalists who have been arrested, interrogated and threatened in the East African country.
“What makes Alemu exceptional are her commitment to work for independent media when the prospect of doing so became increasingly dangerous, her refusal to self-censor in a place where that practice is standard, and her unwillingness to apologize for truth-telling, even though contrition could win her freedom”, IWMF said on its website.
While in jail, Alemu was offered clemency if she agreed to testify against journalist colleagues. She refused and was sent to solitary confinement for 13 days as punishment for her failure to cooperate.
In 2012, she was honoured with the Courage in Journalism Award.