The Free Press Awards nominees of 2023!

Free Press Awards nominees

The Free Press Awards recognise journalists and media professionals who have a strong commitment with press freedom and independent information. We will honour journalists and media professionals in the categories Newcomer of the Year and Most Resilient Journalist.

We have received many nominations of brave and talented journalists from all over the world. We see that the pressure on independent media and journalists is incredible high, and therefore we are even more impressed by the dedication journalists worldwide show in their profession. Therefore we are proud to announce the nominees of 2023.

Most Resilient Journalist

Nominees of the Most Resilient Journalist often faced prosecution, violence and censorship for doing their job. They have shown a strong commitment to press freedom and independent information, and are generally highly-regarded journalists who are willing to risk their life or their freedom in order to keep the public informed. Below you find the three nominees of 2023!

Dicle Müftüoğlu
Dicle Müftüoğlu, co-chair of Dicle Firat Journalists Association, is a Kurdish journalist and activist active in Turkey, mainly in the east part of the country where Kurdish people dominantly live and many human rights violations occur. She is currently imprisoned in Sincan Prison (Ankara, Turkey) since 2 May 2023 for unsubstantiated allegations that she has links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). As a Kurdish woman journalist, she has been facing judicial harassment for years. All over the world, journalists and media are subjected to growing judicial harassment. If media professionals, like Dicle, are unable to do their work without risking harm, they will be unable to provide reliable information to the public.
Philip Obaji
Nigerian journalist Philip Obaji has documented up to 100 human rights abuses by mercenaries from the Russian Wagner Group and allied forces in West and Central Africa since "Vladimir Putin's private army", as some have called the Wagner Group, appeared in Central African Republic (CAR) over four years ago. He has also spent the last decade uncovering trafficking of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees in West and Central Africa and rightly portraying it as an overlooked consequence of war. And that has earned him many enemies. In 2022, Some of Obaji's sources in CAR were either killed or mysteriously disappeared. He himself has received death threats, his home’s been robbed and he rarely sleeps in the same place in fear of being killed. Obaji's struggle for the protection of uprooted and ordinary people in his work is impressive and much needed.
Andersson Boscan
Andersson Boscán is an Ecuadorian-Venezuelan investigative journalist, focusing on exposing public corruption, drug trafficking, transnational crimes, environmental offenses and crimes against health. Andersson has already endured many obstacles and difficulties as a result of his work, like prosecution and threats from organised crime. In 2023, he led the investigative team in the "El Gran Padrino" (The Grand Godfather) case, which exposed a corruption and narco-political structure within Guillermo Lasso's government. The investigation led to the flight of at least four high-level officials, the resignation of 12 ministers and deputy ministers, the removal of two National Police generals, and the first impeachment in 100 years against a sitting president of the Republic. As a result of this investigation, Andersson and his family had to flee Ecuador after receiving multiple death threats. He is currently working from exile.

Newcomer of the Year

Nominees in the category Newcomer of the Year show extraordinary dedication to journalism as a means to hold those in power accountable and to serve as a watchdog in the public interest, right from the start of their career. They show great talent in telling those stories that would otherwise go untold. The nominees are Sara Cincurova, Kaushik Raj and Holiancar Contreras.

Sara Cincurova
Sara Cincurova is a freelance human rights journalist from Slovakia, focusing on migration, conflict, humanitarian issues, human rights, and women's rights specifically. She has investigated issues such as sexualized violence against women dissidents in Venezuelan prisons, exploitation of Ukrainian refugees in Europe, and forced sterilizations of transgender people in Slovakia. She covered the tragic situation of refugees at the Polish-Belarusian border, and interviewed people who became victims of rape and human trafficking in Libya while she was embedded aboard a Sea-Eye 4 rescue ship that rescued 408 refugees in the Mediterranean sea. Sara reported from Kharkiv during heavy airstrikes and on-the-ground combat at great risk, after which she returned to Ukraine multiple times to continue reporting on the experience of civilians. In only three years of her career, she reported from a number of countries, writing for The Guardian, Al Jazeera, BBC News, Foreign Policy and many more.
Kaushik Raj
Indian journalist Kaushik Raj entered the journalism field with the determination to shine a light on issues that are often overlooked or intentionally ignored. Instead of succumbing to the prevailing narrative, Kaushik uses his platform to question the rising hatred and religious supremacism in India. He was the first Indian journalist to publish videos of the 'Haridwar Dharm Sansad,' a religious gathering where calls for the genocide of India's Muslim minorities were explicitly made. Kaushik showed in his investigative story how the same group of religious supremacists had organised 12 events over 24 months in four states of India calling for the genocide of Indian Muslims. Due to Kaushik's story and efforts, one of the main organisers of this religious conclave, Yati Narsinghanand was arrested. In a time where anti-minority sentiment is escalating, Kaushik's role in tracking hate speech and providing a voice to those affected is more crucial than ever.
Holiancar Contreras
Venezuelan journalist Holiancar Contreras focuses on reporting on human rights abuses surrounding migration. She currently operates in Tachira, a state of Venezuela with one of the biggest migration fluxes, and Colombia, the country with the most Venezuelan migrants. The border is controlled by various criminal groups who act in human trafficking, drug trafficking, and exploitation of locals. Holiancar writes about the experiences of those who live in this dangerous border area, and covers the difficulties people face with migrating to Colombia. She pressures local lawmakers to solve infrastructural problems such as lack of water and electricity through her reporting, while being subjected to dangerous situations such as daily crime and drug trafficking conflicts which have culminated in grenade attacks in the border regions.

Announcing the winners

The winners will be announced and honoured during a ceremony on 31 October 2023 in The Hague. The winner of the Newcomer of the Year-Hans Verploeg Award will receive a scholarship of 1,500 euros. The winner of the Most Resilient Journalist Award receives a cash prize of 10,000 euros.

Keep an eye on our website and social media to learn more about the nominees and to hear who will be the winners!

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