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High Level Panel congratulates Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov on Nobel Peace Prize

Tuesday 12 October 2021

The High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom congratulates journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of the Russian Federation on being awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. The award is a tribute to both journalists’ formidable courage and to their steadfast commitment to fact-based independent journalism; it serves as recognition of the critical importance of safeguarding freedom of expression and press freedom at a time when both are under threat in many places across the world.

From left to right: the Rt Hon Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Amal Clooney and Professor Can Yeginsu

From left to right: the Rt Hon Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Amal Clooney and Professor Can Yeginsu

On Friday, 8 October 2021, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that it had decided to award the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov ‘for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace. Ms Ressa and Mr Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia. At the same time, 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.’

The High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom commends the Norwegian Nobel Committee for honouring these two extraordinary journalists and for recognising, at a critical time, that freedom of expression and freedom of the press are crucial prerequisites for democracy and for a peaceful world.

The Chair of the High Level Panel and Former President of the UK Supreme Court (2012-2017), the Rt Hon Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, stated: ‘This year’s Nobel Peace Prize award sends a strong message across the world that peace and freedom of expression are inextricably linked. The work of journalists is fundamental: they are the front-line defenders of the right to access information in the public interest, and of freedom of expression more broadly. On behalf of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, I would like to express my delight that Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov have had their important and courageous work in defending freedom of expression recognised in this most prestigious way.’

Special Advisor to the Chair of the High Level Panel and barrister, Amal Clooney commented: ’I am so proud of my client and my friend Maria Ressa. She has sacrificed her own freedom for the rights of journalists all over the world and I am grateful to the Nobel Committee for shining a light on her incredible courage. I hope the Philippine authorities will now stop persecuting her and other journalists and that this prize helps to protect the press around the world.’

Professor Can Yeginsu, barrister and incoming Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel remarked: ‘Congratulations to Maria Ressa, whom I am so proud to represent as she continues to fight the baseless charges brought against her in the Philippines. I also commend the Nobel Committee for recognising the courageous and essential work of Dmitry Muratov at a time when independent journalism has been brought to the verge of collapse in Russia through the application of “foreign agents” laws. Governments who abuse their power, spread disinformation, and violate fundamental rights are intimidated by the work of journalists like Maria and Dmitry because accountability is what they fear most. This award from the Nobel Committee could not be more timely, as the world faces a formidable assault on freedom of expression and on truth itself, both preconditions for democracy and world peace.’


Notes to the Editor

  1. Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines. In 2012, she co-founded Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism, which she still heads. As a journalist and the Rappler’s CEO, Ms Ressa has shown herself to be a fearless defender of freedom of expression. Rappler has focused critical attention on the Duterte regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign. The number of deaths is so high that the campaign resembles a war waged against the country’s own population. Ms Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse.
  2. Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions. In 1993, he was one of the founders of the independent newspaper Novaja Gazeta. Since 1995 he has been the newspaper’s editor-in-chief for a total of 24 years. Novaja Gazeta is the most independent newspaper in Russia today, with a fundamentally critical attitude towards power. The newspaper’s fact-based journalism and professional integrity have made it an important source of information on censurable aspects of Russian society rarely mentioned by other media. Since its start-up in 1993, Novaja Gazeta has published critical articles on subjects ranging from corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and ‘troll factories’ to the use of Russian military forces both within and outside Russia.
  3. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), established in 1995 under Founding Honorary President Nelson Mandela, is an autonomous and financially independent entity, working to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
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For enquiries please contact: the IBA’s Human Rights Institute at: IBAHRI@int-bar.org

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