The Belarusian Association of Journalists has won the first Canada-United Kingdom Media Freedom Award for its ongoing commitment to journalistic ethics and principles and its perseverance and self-sacrifice in the face of increased targeted crackdowns on media in Belarus.
François-Philippe Champagne, minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, and Dominic Raab, the United Kingdom's first secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, announced the winner on Monday.
The announcement was made jointly during this year's Global Conference for Media Freedom, held virtually on 16 November, and hosted by Canada and Botswana.
"It is vital that journalists, wherever they work in the world, can shine a light on what is going on, without fear of retaliation, censorship or punishment. I pay tribute to the Belarusian Association of Journalists for their dedication to reporting human rights and electoral fraud in the face of violence, threats and intimidation," said Dominic Raab, foreign secretary of the UK.
Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne said, "At a time when media freedom is increasingly under attack, we commend the Belarusian Association of Journalists as it fights to protect the rights and freedoms, lives and livelihoods of media professionals in that country."
The Media Freedom Award is one part of Canadian-UK efforts to drive international action on improving the safety of journalists around the world.
"It is a great honour for the Belarusian Association of Journalists to receive this award. We regard this award as a high appraisal of the work of our colleagues, who every day honestly cover events in Belarus, risking their freedom and health," said Andrei Bastunets, Chairperson of the Belarusian Association of Journalists.