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Latin American journalists, bloggers and digital news site recognized for defending freedom of information

Journalists from Colombia, Brazil and Cuba are among the nominees for the 25th edition of the Reporters Without Borders-TV5 Monde Prize for Press Freedom.

Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya, nominee (Photo courtesy of newspaper El Tiempo)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a freedom of information organization based in Paris, noted the courage of journalists and bloggers around the world who continue “despite the risks to their lives.” The organization partnered with television network TV5 Monde to honor “journalists and media outlets that have made a noteworthy contribution to the defense or promotion” of freedom of information.

“Authoritarian regimes cracked down harder on journalists and bloggers in 2016,” said RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire, according to an organization press release. “It is no coincidence that nearly half of the nominees work in the bottom 20 of the 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index. RSF hails the courage and determination of all these women and men with a common commitment to fighting for freedom of information.”

The nominees are divided among journalists, media outlets and citizen journalists; a winner will be chosen from each category.

Screenshot of website for Agência Pública, nominee in the media category

Journalist Jineth Bedoya, who has spent her career covering violent conflicts in Colombia, is one of the nine journalists nominated for the prize. Bedoya’s career in investigative journalism and her work as an activist for women who have been victims of violence have been honored by numerous international organizations. RSF recognized her personal experience, in which she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted while investigating arms trafficking involving Colombian officials and paramilitaries, and her public fight for women’s rights.  It also acknowledged her fight for freedom of expression and contributions to peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC.

Digital investigative news site Agência Pública from São Paulo, Brazil was recognized in the media outlet category. RSF noted the site’s reporting on environmental and human rights issues, as well as its projects to promote journalism and free speech. Agência Pública opened Casa Pública, a cultural center in support of independent journalism, in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year and it also funds scholarships for investigative reporting projects, as well as “houses foreign journalists in assignment in Brazil,” RSF noted.

Screenshot from blog of Tania Quintero, nominee in the citizen journalism category

Tania Quintero and Ivan García Quintero, mother and son citizen journalists in Cuba, are nominees in the final category. RSF said the duo “embody journalistic resistance and illustrate the difficulties of free speech in Cuba.” Tania Quintero, currently a political refugee in Switzerland, was “arrested, burgled, persecuted and even publicly humiliated by Fidel Castro” as a result of her work as a dissident journalist, RSF said. García, who continues to blog from Cuba, writes about censorship and independent journalists, RSF noted. He has also been the target of the Cuban regime and was detained for two weeks for “anti-government propaganda,” according to RSF.

Leonardo Sakamoto (Photo by Marcel Crozet/ILO is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Brazilian journalist Leonardo Sakamoto also was a nominee in the citizen journalist category. RSF recognized his human rights-focused blog, Blog do Sakamoto, which is published by UOL Notícias, and the nonprofit he founded Reporter Brazil, which focuses on combating slavery. It noted that as a result of his human rights work, Sakamoto has been the subject of smear campaigns and threats. A large food company was involved a smear campaign against him in 2015. Then in 2016, he was the target of threats after a newspaper in the state of Minas Gerais published a fake interview with him.

The 2016 Reporters Without Borders-TV5 Monde Prize for Press Freedom will be given in Strasbourg, France on Nov. 8.


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