2008 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize awarded to Mexican reporter Lydia Cacho Ribeiro
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today designated Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, a freelance reporter based in Cancun, Mexico, as the laureate of the 2008 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, on the basis of the recommendation of the international jury of the Prize.
Joe Thloloe, President of the jury of 14 professional journalists and editors from all over the world, and Press Ombudsman of the Press Council of South Africa, explained the choice of this year's laureate:
"Members of the jury were impressed by the courage of Lydia Cacho Ribeiro as she continues to expose political corruption, organized crime and domestic violence in the face of death threats, an attempt on her life and legal battles. For me, a journalist who knows the antagonistic environment in which he or she operates and continues to do the right thing by keeping readers, listeners or viewers informed about their society deserves recognition for their contribution to freedom of expression around the world. Lydia Cacho is such a laureate."
The Director-General will hand over the Prize to Ms Cacho in a ceremony to be held on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, in Maputo. This year, UNESCO will be marking the Day in the capital of Mozambique, where it will also host a conference on access to information.
Born in 1963, Ms Cacho is a contributor to the daily newspaper La Voz del Caribe. Through investigative journalism, she uncovered the involvement of businessmen, politicians and drug traffickers in prostitution and child pornography. In 2006, Ms Cacho reported on the violent death of hundreds of young women in the northern Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez.
Ms Cacho has been the target of repeated death threats because of her work. Her car has been sabotaged and she has been the victim of police harassment. In 2006, she was awarded the Francisco Ojeda Award for journalistic courage and in 2007 the Amnesty International Ginetta Sagan Award for Women and Children's Rights.
Created in 1997 by UNESCO's Executive Board, the Prize is awarded yearly to honour the work of an individual or an organization defending or promoting freedom of expression anywhere in the world, especially if this action puts the individual's life at risk. Candidates are proposed by UNESCO Member States, and regional or international organizations that defend and promote freedom of expression.
The Prize is named after Guillermo Cano, the Colombian newspaper publisher assassinated in 1987 for denouncing the activities of powerful drug barons in his country.
Since its creation, the US $25,000 prize, financed by the Cano and Ottaway family foundations, has been awarded to the following laureates: Anna Politkovskaya (Russian Federation, 2007), May Chidiac (Lebanon, 2006), Cheng Yizhong, (China, 2005), Raúl Rivero (Cuba, 2004), Amira Hass (Israel, 2003), Geoffrey Nyarota (Zimbabwe, 2002), U Win Tin (Myanmar, 2001), Nizar Nayyouf (Syria, 2000), Jesus Blancornelas (Mexico, 1999), Christina Anyanwu (Nigeria, 1998), Gao Yu (China, 1997).
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