Mexican journalist Anabel Hernández has been awarded with the Golden Pen of Freedom award by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
WAN-IFRA said Hernández was “honored for her commitment and dedication to investigative reporting that has revealed corruption at the highest levels of Mexican society and has placed her life in danger.”
“Personally, this award is a light that shines on my dark path, a light in the lonely and unequal struggle between a journalist and a whole apparatus of corruption,” said Ms. Hernández while accepting the award during the opening ceremony of the 64th World Newspaper Congress — 19th World Editors Forum in Kiev on Monday.
“As a Mexican journalist, receiving the Golden Pen of Freedom tells me WAN-IFRA and its members refuse to remain indifferent to the slaughter of journalists and freedom of expression in Mexico, and that their joint denunciation will pressure the international community to stop this from continuing,” she said to an audience of more than 1,000 publishers, chief editors and other senior newspaper executives from around the world.
WAN-IFRA has presented the Golden Pen of Freedom since 1961 to recognize the outstanding action, in writing or deed, of an individual, group or institution in the service of press freedom.
Hernández is a Mexican journalist who has worked for several important national dailies, and was driven to become an investigative journalist after the kidnapping and murder of her father in Mexico City in 2000. Her recent book, “Los Señores del Narco” (The Drug Lords), details the complicities between organized crime and high-ranking authorities, from government officials to the police, military and prominent businesspeople. As a result, she has made herself the target of death threats from both state and non-state actors.
“In presenting this award, WAN-IFRA recognizes the unyielding stance Anabel Hernández has taken, at great personal risk, against drug cartels, organized crime and corrupt officials,” said Erik Bjerager, president of the World Editors Forum, who presented the award. “Her actions have helped ensure the development of high quality, unrestricted investigative journalism in the region, and by presenting her with the Golden Pen of Freedom we express our solidarity with all Mexican journalists who remain defiant in the face of constant threats and horrendous violence.”
WAN-IFRA again called on the Mexican authorities, and in particular President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, to take urgent measures to end the violence against journalists.
WAN-IFRA has recorded 44 journalist deaths in Mexico since 2006; five journalists have been killed this year, including three in the state of Veracruz in the span of a single week. These figures make the country one of the most deadly beats in the world for media professionals.
“Upholding international standards of freedom of expression and freedom of the press is the responsibility the state; the people of Mexico deserve nothing less,” said Mr. Bjerager.
Meanwhile, about a dozen Ukrainian journalists rose from their seats and held up posters protesting government censorship during President Viktor Yanukovych’s speech on press freedom at the conference.
Yanukovych spoke Monday at the opening of the congress in the Ukrainian capital amid concerns over declining media freedoms in the ex-Soviet nation.
As soon as Yanukovych began his speech, a handful of journalists rose and held up posters reading “Stop Censorship.” Yanukovych did not react to the protest and there was no immediate comment from his office.