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The Nobel Peace Center in Oslo The Nobel Peace Center in Oslo 

Nobel Peace Prize honours freedom of speech

The announcement of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize highlights the right to information and freedom of speech in a world where democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.

By Linda Bordoni

Reading the signs of the times, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is honouring the right to free speech in 2021 with the most prestigious of the Nobel Prizes going to two journalists, undeterred by threats and blacklists in order to get the story out.

Filippino journalist Maria Ressa, and her Russian colleague, Dmitry Muratov, are this year’s Peace Prize laureates chosen, in the words of the Committee’s chairwoman, "for their courageous fight for freedom of expression” in their countries.

At the same time, Berit Reiss-Andersen added, “they are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions."

"Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda," she said, announcing the Prize on Friday morning.

Investigative journalists defying the authorities

Muratov is editor-in-chief of Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which has defied the Kremlin under President Vladimir Putin with investigative probes into wrongdoing and corruption. He has also extensively covered the conflict in Ukraine.

Ressa meanwhile, heads Rappler, a digital media company which she co-founded in 2012, and which has grown prominent through investigative reporting, including into large-scale killings during a Filippino police campaign against drugs.

Several lawsuits have been filed against her and she says she has been targeted because of her news site's critical reports on the country’s President.

The last time the Nobel Peace Prize went to a journalist was back in 1935 when the German Carl von Ossietzky won for revealing his country's secret post-war rearmament programme.

Journalists in both countries, and across the globe, have welcomed the accolade expressing the hope that greater visibility leads to greater protection for the rights and safety of the individuals concerned, and ultimately help protect journalism and freedom of speech across the world, as well as inspire a new generation of journalists.

The Nobel Peace Prize will be presented on 10 December.

Reading the signs of the times

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of the assignment of the Nobel Prize for Literature that went to  Tanzania’s Abdulrazak Gurnah. He was chosen for his uncompromising perspective on the effects of colonialism, including forced migration. Another poignant sign of the times.

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08 October 2021, 14:52