Mexican journalist Anabel Hernández has been awarded the Golden Pen of Freedom 2012, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
Ms. Hernández was honoured for her commitment and dedication to investigative reporting that 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, accepting the award during the opening ceremony of the 64th World Newspaper Congress and 19th World Editors Forum on Monday in Kiev, Ukraine.
“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 recognise the outstanding action, in writing or deed, of an individual, group or institution in the cause of press freedom.
Ms 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 organised crime and high-ranking authorities, from government officials to the police, military and prominent businessmen. 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 recognises the unyielding stance Anabel Hernández has taken, at great personal risk, against drug cartels, organised 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 in-coming 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 have been killed this year, 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.
WAN-IFRA is the global organisation of the world’s newspapers and news publishers. It represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. Its core mission is to defend and promote press freedom, quality journalism and editorial integrity and the development of prosperous businesses.