The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) has been named as the winner of the 2022 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize – won last year by Philippine journalist Maria Ressa who also won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
An international jury of media professionals recommended the award which will be given at the World Press Freedom Day global conference on 2 May in Punta Del Este, Uruguay.
The BAJ was ordered dissolved in summer 2021 by the Belarus government of President Aleksandr Lukashenko but still runs a website.
“By awarding the prize to the BAJ,” said Alfred Lela, chair of the 2022 international jury and founder and director of an Albanian media organization, “we are standing by all journalists around the world who criticize, oppose and expose authoritarian politicians and regimes by transmitting truthful information and promoting freedom of expression.”
The Belarusian Association of Journalists was the sole professional journalists group in Belarus defending free and independent journalism and a mainstay of resistance to the Belarus government’s continuing crackdown on protest and freedom of expression which started in 2020.
It has won vocal support in recent years from multiple human rights and media freedom groups including the AEJ.
Its former deputy chairman Andrei Aliaksandrau is in prison charged with treason and maintained close ties with the AEJ when he lived in London and worked at both Index on Censorship and Article 19.
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