Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Ali Arkady has won the Most Resilient Journalist Award for his exceptional courage and persistence. The award was presented to him at Free Press Live 2019 in The Hague. Other award winners include Elias Huuhtanen from Finland, who won the Newcomer of the Year - Hans Verploeg Award, and Dutch photography duo Hadas Itzkovitch and Anya van Lit, whose project ‘Love Zone South Africa’ earned them the Best Report Award.

Photographer Arkady documented evidence of war crimes while reporting on Iraqi troops during the battle for Mosul in 2016. After he captured the images, Arkady and his family received death threats. Arkady chose to publish the stories regardless and was forced to flee his home country.

Arkady: “This Award means a great deal to me. It motivates me to keep telling this story. I sacrificed a lot in my life to publish these pictures. Getting this recognition feels great.”

Best Newcomer and Best Report

Aside from the Most Resilient Journalist Award, two further Awards were presented. Elias Huuhtanen, 24, won the Newcomer of the Year – Hans Verploeg Award. An investigation by this Finnish journalist led to the discovery of the first video evidence of Finnish-made armoured vehicles, some fitted with Russian heavy weapons, being used in the civil war in Yemen.

Huuhtanen: “I am overwhelmed and grateful to have won the Newcomer of the Year - Hans Verploeg Award. It means a lot to me, signifying that even small-scale and independent journalism can make a difference."

Photography duo Hadas Itzkovitch and Anya van Lit won the Best Report Award for their project ‘Love Zone South Africa.’ This award is presented annually to the best foreign report created with support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery Fund for journalists. In ‘Love Zone South Africa’, the duo portrays – in images and words – the impact of apartheid on interracial love relationships in the country today. Ten couples, from different generations and backgrounds, share their stories of love that overcomes struggle.

New project: A Safer World for the Truth

The Free Press Awards were presented during Free Press Live 2019, which highlighted the importance of safety for journalists and ending impunity for violence against them. During the event, project leaders Hans Laroes (journalist) and Saskia Baas (international human rights expert) launched ‘A Safer World for the Truth'.

In this unorthodox and ambitious project, Free Press Unlimited will team up with Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists to investigate cold cases of murdered journalists and bring the perpetrators to justice before a People’s Tribunal.

“Enough is enough,” says Hans Laroes, ex-editor in chief of the NOS news service. “Dozens of journalists are murdered every year. In nine out of ten cases, these murders are not investigated and the perpetrators or those who hired them are not brought to justice. This way, the truth is buried alongside the journalist, and other journalists are scared away from telling important stories.”