The UN and the Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Thursday launched an award to honor journalists who risk their lives to cover human rights abuses in Mexico, in tribute to two celebrated reporters murdered last year.
The Breach-Valdez Prize will honor journalists who follow in the footsteps of their slain colleagues Miroslava Breach and Javier Valdez, two of the more than 100 reporters murdered since 2000 in one of the world’s most dangerous countries for reporters.
Its aim is “to recognize the careers of Mexican journalists who have distinguished themselves in defending human rights,” UN Information Center in Mexico director Giancarlo Summa said.
Valdez, an award-winning reporter and a long-time AFP collaborator who covered Mexico’s powerful drug cartels, was gunned down in May last year in broad daylight outside the offices of Riodoce, the newspaper he cofounded in Culiacan, the capital of his native Sinaloa State.
Breach, a correspondent for Mexican daily La Jornada in the state of Chihuahua, on the US border, was a celebrated investigative journalist known for hard-hitting reports on links between politicians and organized crime.
She was shot dead in broad daylight in March last year as she drove her son to school.
The annual prize is cosponsored by UNESCO, the Ibero-American University and the Embassy of France in Mexico.
The first edition is to be awarded on May 3 in Mexico City. The winner is to receive a grant and a trip to France to take part in a series of events on free speech.
“We want to fight back against oblivion, against the normalization of violence, so that we aren’t asking each month who will be next,” said Jan Jarab, Mexico representative for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
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