The Shift News founder and editor Caroline Muscat has won this year’s Press Freedom Award for Independence. She was recognized by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for her work against corruption with The Shift News, and for refusing to back down “despite massive pressure”.
Runners up for this year’s prestigious Independence award were Pakistan’s oldest daily newspaper ‘Dawn’, Cameroon-based media freedom journalist Amadou Vamoulke, and the Nicaraguan investigative portal ‘Confidencial’.
The awards were presented at a gala ceremony in Berlin before a packed audience of international journalists, human rights activists, media lawyers, and political figures.
Muscat dedicated her award to assassinated Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed with a car bomb just metres from her home in October 2017.
“Daphne shone a light on the rapidly spreading rot of corruption that has taken over our country,” she said. “Almost two years after her brutal murder, and in a country of only half a million people, the authorities still won’t tell us who wanted her silenced.”
The Council of Europe has given Malta a deadline to hold an independent public inquiry into the journalist’s assassination, but with just 14 days remaining, there is no sign that this will take place.
We don’t need to be heroes. The fact that some of us are being recognized as such says more about the countries we work in than it does about us. We are all made more vulnerable when justice is out of reach and impunity strengthens the hand of the corrupt" @muscatcar pic.twitter.com/OzkOtUbKWR
— RSF (@RSF_inter) September 12, 2019
“As journalists, we should not be asked to risk our lives, or our peace of mind, to do our jobs,” she said.
“We don’t need to be heroes. The fact that some of us are being recognized as such says more about the countries we work in than it does about us. We are all made more vulnerable when justice is out of reach and impunity strengthens the hand of the corrupt.”
Malta has fallen 32 places in the World Press Freedom Index since the governing Labour Party came to power in 2013.
The Press Freedom Awards were established in 1992 to honour journalists “who, despite the most adverse circumstances, keep a close eye on those in positions of power”. Twelve journalists and news outlets were shortlisted for this year’s awards in the categories of Independence, Impact, and Courage.
Other 2019 winners included Eman Al-Nafjan, who was recognised for ‘Courage’ as a blogger and journalist in Saudi Arabia. Al-Nafjan has campaigned tirelessly for women’s rights in a country where she is considered a “traitor”, and is facing jail time of up to 20 years for her work.
The winner of the ‘Impact’ category was Pham Doan Trang, founder of online magazine Luat Khoa in Vietnam. A strong advocate for LGBT rights, she reports on civil rights issues in the repressive state, where she has been beaten and arbitrarily imprisoned a number of times.
RSF Germany’s Board Spokesperson Michael Rediske said in a statement prior to the ceremony, “The awards are a signal to repressive regimes that the work of courageous women and men is perceived worldwide, and that we don’t leave those being threatened, harassed and imprisoned alone.”