The two NGOs that are receiving the French Republic's Human Rights Prize in the "Freedom of Information, Press Freedom and Journalism" category today – Pakistan's Freedom Network and Russia's Initiative Centre for the Caucasus – are both closely linked to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
France's National Consultative Commission for Human Rights (CNCDH) awards the prizes, which are being presented today by Christine Lazerges, the commission's president, and justice minister Nicole Belloubet.
Freedom Network, RSF's partner organization in Pakistan, plays a key role in that country in defending the freedom to inform and promoting ethical and independent journalism. It monitors press freedom violations, works to strengthen the safety of media and journalists, and lobbies the government for better media laws. Its executive director, Iqbal Khattak, is RSF's representative in Pakistan.
It was awarded the prize for a project promoting respect for religious minorities and non-believers within the Pakistani media.
The Initiative Centre for the Caucasus is a Russian NGO that publishes Dosh, a magazine that is one of the few independent media outlets covering political and social developments in Chechnya and nearby regions. RSF works closely with the centre and awarded its Press Freedom Prize to Dosh in 2009.
Amid the fear and arbitrary rule that characterize Chechnya today, one can only admire its reporters and its editors, Abdulkhazhi Duduyev and Israpil Shavkhalov. As well as publishing Dosh, the centre has opened a press and resources centre for civil society in Grozny, launched a women's magazine, run a legal centre and organized seminars on a range of sensitive issues including independent reporting for young journalism students.
"We are pleased to see two of our partner organizations receiving this prestigious award for their activities in defence of human rights," RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
"As well as constituting an important recognition of their enormous efforts and commitment in the field, this prize is a powerful message from the French Republic to all those who fight to defend the freedom to inform at a time when authoritarian centres of power are trying to increase their influence and impose their antagonistic alternative model."
(c) 2017 Reports without Borders