"We should all be grateful for the work and imagination of the press. I trust old and new media alike will be able to continue their work, unencumbered by threats, fear or other constraint."
(From the message by UN General Secretary Kofi Annan on World Press Freedom Day, 3rd May 2006)
Since 1997, UNESCO has awarded the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. This UNESCO Prize has shown its mettle: the first winner was the Chinese journalist Gao Yin, in 1997, and in 1998 the prize went to Christina Anyanwu of Nigeria. Both journalists were in prison at the time of the prize-giving ceremony. In both cases, the prize led to their release from prison. The Guillermo Cano prize is named in honour of the Columbian journalist Guillermo Cano Isaza, who was murdered in 1987 whilst going about his work. Through this prize, UNESCO is giving a reminder that there are still many countries around the world where state censorship is enforced, and that journalists are pressured and imprisoned for their critical reporting.
Every year on the 3rd May, UNESCO commemorates World Press Freedom Day. The message of the 3rd May is that every journalist, anywhere in the world, has the right to report freely and without fear. Restrictions on press freedom are also restrictions of democracy.