Journalists Ressa, Muratov win 2021 Nobel Peace Prize amid global concerns about press freedom


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SULAIMANI — Journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday (October 10), with the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarding them the honor for "their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

Ressa is the co-founder and CEO of the Rappler, an investigative outlet in her native Philippines. She has been targeted by the government numerous times for her work.

She was arrested in 2019 and charged with "cyber libel” in a case that attracted global headlines and was condemned as politically motivated. She was convicted in June 2020 and currently faces between six months and six years in jail once sentenced.

Muratov is a Russian journalist and editor of Novaya Gazeta, which the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) calls the "the only truly critical newspaper with national influence in Russia today.”

Press freedom is a major issue around the world. Governments who imprison and attack journalists are often condemned as human rights abusers and undemocratic.

There are at least five journalists currently behind bars in the Kurdistan Region, including Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, Ayaz Karam, Omed Baroshky, and Qaraman Shukri.

All of them have been convicted in what observers have said are politically motivated and deeply flawed trials that bear the hallmarks of political interference in the judicial process.

Over the past year, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and CPJ and the local Metro Center for Journalists Rights and Advocacy, along with foreign governments, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and France and the European Union, have all expressed concern about the deteriorating state of press freedom in the Kurdistan Region.

Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, is ranked 163 out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

(NRT Digital Media)