Shahidul Alam among winners of CPJ’s 2020 International Press Freedom Awards

The Daily Star  July 13, 2020
Star Online Report

Noted Bangladeshi photojournalist and founder of Pathshala Media Institute Shahidul Alam has been announced as one of the winners of the 2020 International Press Freedom Awards.

The Committee to Protect Journalists will honour Shahidul and three others from Iran, Nigeria, and Russia with the award, CPJ said in a statement today.

All four awardees have either been arrested or faced criminal prosecution in reprisal for their reporting.

The other awardees are: Mohammad Mosaed (Iran), a freelance economic reporter who investigates corruption, embezzlement, labour issues, economic sanctions, and popular protests; Dapo Olorunyomi (Nigeria), co-founder, CEO and publisher of the Nigerian newspaper Premium Times, and a fierce defender of press freedom in Nigeria; and Svetlana Prokopyeva (Russia), a regional correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, known as Radio Svoboda.

“Like brave and committed journalists everywhere, CPJ’s honorees set out to report the news without fear or favor for the benefit of their communities, their country, and the world,” Joel Simon, CPJ executive director, said in the statement.

CPJ will also honour lawyer Amal Clooney with the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award, given annually by CPJ’s board of directors to recognise extraordinary and sustained commitment to press freedom.

Amal Clooney had represented embattled reporters around the world, including Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo of Reuters, who were imprisoned in Myanmar for 17 months.

She is known to promote freedom of speech and journalism through the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch initiative, which monitors the trials of journalists worldwide and provides free legal representation for those in need, according to the CPJ statement.

“Journalists in trouble have no better champion than Amal Clooney, which is why we are so delighted to honor her with the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award. A talented barrister, gifted negotiator, and powerful speaker, Clooney works tirelessly to free journalists unjustly targeted by despotic leaders using increasingly punitive laws to stifle reporting,” said Kathleen Carroll, CPJ board chair.

The winners will be honoured on November 19, 2020, at the CPJ’s annual benefit gala. Patrick Gaspard, president of Open Society Foundations, will chair the event this year, while veteran broadcast journalist Lester Holt will be hosting the programme which will be held virtually due to health and safety restrictions related to Covid-19 pandemic.

The event will include video profiles, compelling press freedom stories, award presentations, and acceptance speeches streamed online and shared around the world, the CPJ statement added.