IPI Free Media Pioneer

Central Asian and Southern Caucasian Freedom of Expression Network (CASCFEN), Baku

Launched in August 2001, the Baku-based network was created by media organisations from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in order to share information and better coordinate their press freedom activities. Its declared aim is to “protect freedom of expression and of the press in the region” as outlined by Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

CASCFEN operates in a region that is known for harsh government restrictions on independent and pro-opposition media. The closure of independent media outlets and the criminal prosecution of independent journalists, as well as more subtle tactics used to control the media, are common throughout the region and have led to a climate of intimidation in which self-censorship is on the rise. Violent attacks against journalists have also increased, making the profession more dangerous than ever. Against this backdrop, CASCFEN strives to improve the dissemination of news and information across national borders and actively participates in efforts to further and safeguard press freedom in the region.

The annual Free Media Pioneer Award was established by IPI, the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, in 1996 to honour individuals or organisations that have fought against great odds to ensure freer and more independent media in their country or region. The Award is co-sponsored by the US-based Freedom Forum, a non-partisan, international foundation dedicated to free press and free speech.

The annual Free Media Pioneer Award was presented to Azer Hasret, CASCFEN Chairman during IPI General Assembly and World Congress held in Warsaw, May, 2004.

Previous winners of the Free Media Pioneer Award are the Media Council of Tanzania (2003), the independent daily newspaper, Danas, Serbia (2002), the independent online newspaper Malaysiakini.com (2001); IPYS – Press and Society Institute, Peru (2000); EFJA – Ethiopian Free Press Journalists’ Association, Ethiopia (1999); Radio B-92, Yugoslavia (1998); AJI – Alliance of Independent Journalists, Indonesia (1997); and NTV, Russia (1996).

Source: CASCFEN.net

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