August 23, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – Well-known Sudanese reporter Faisal Mohammed Salih, who was jailed for speaking out against human rights abuses committed by the Khartoum government, has been named the 2013 winner of the Peter Mackler Award.
- Veteran Sudanese journalist and analyst Faisal Mohammed Salih speaks to AFP during an interview in Khartoum on May 29, 2012 (File/ AFP)
Global Media Forum and the US branch of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) made the announcement on Thursday.
Salih is an experienced journalist and columnist for various Sudanese publications. He is also director of programs at Teeba Press, a non-government organisation that trains journalists in Sudan. He was the former editor-in-chief of Al-Adwaa daily and a columnist for several other publications.
Salih has been a strident critic of Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir and his regime’s human rights abuses.
He was imprisoned for several days in 2012 for comments he made about Heglig and the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile in an Al -jazeera interview.
In 2011, he was among several journalists investigated after speaking out against the alleged rape of female youth activist Safia Ishag.
The prize, which is named in honour of the late Agence France-Presse (AFP) reporter and editor, has been awarded annually for the past five years and recognises courageous and ethical journalism.
“Our goal for the last five years, as we have built this award program, has always been to shine a light on the courage and commitment to human rights and dignity that Mr. Salih exhibits every day through his work”, Camille Mackler, project director for the Peter Mackler Award, said.
“When a young woman was raped by government forces, he could have simply chosen to look the other way and not risk his own life. Instead, he reported about it until the same forces tried to silence him as well. This courage and attachment to journalistic ethics is what the Peter Mackler Award seeks to encourage and reward every year”, she added.
Sudan is currently ranked 170 out of 179 countries in the World Press Freedom Index published annually by RWB.
The country has become notorious for its widespread use of intimidation and violence to censor journalists.
Security forces continue to manipulate and control media coverage in the country by jailing dissenting journalists, confiscating newspapers and shutting down media organisations.
“By awarding Faisal Mohammed Salih, we pay tribute to the courage of those in Sudan who refuse to be silenced. In the face of harsh oppression, Salih remains a steadfast figure of freedom of information”, said RWB director Christophe Deloire.
Salih will receive the award at a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington on 24 October.
The Peter Mackler Award was founded in June 2008 following the veteran US journalist’s death that same month from a heart attack.
Mackler, who worked at AFP for 35 years, also founded the Global Media Forum, which helps train journalists and non-profit organisations to use the media as a tool for social change.
The Peter Mackler Award was established to recognise and celebrate the outstanding contribution of journalists working in countries where freedom of the press is either not guaranteed or not recognised.