Created in 1997, the annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize honours people or organisations for outstanding contributions to the defence and promotion of press freedom, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.
Awarded annually on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, the Prize helps to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of expression and media freedom to peace. Many of the previous laureates have endured imprisonment and suffering as a result of carrying out their jobs as journalists and photographers.
The Prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá, Colombia on 17 December 1986. Guillermo Cano spent his career defending diversity of opinion and the circumstances of his death symbolise the price paid by journalists worldwide for exercising their profession.
Among those previously honoured are journalists Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone who are both serving seven-year prison sentences after being arrested when reporting on alleged human rights violations in Myanmar. Dawit Isaak, an imprisoned Eritrean-Swedish journalist, was chosen to receive the prize in 2017. Mr. Isaak was arrested in a crackdown on the media in Eritrea in September 2001. He has not been heard of since 2005 and his present location is unknown.