“An Award to Freedom of Expression” – Nobel Peace Prize 2021

Dimitry Muratov and Maria Ressa. Photo: Joshua Lim and Euku.

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Maria Ressa and Dimitry Muratov for their work in protecting freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia. Civil Rights Defenders welcomes the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee’s decision as it recognises those who fight for freedom of expression.

With this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee chose to focus on freedom of expression – a human right under attack in many parts of the world. Journalists, activists and opinion-makers are monitored, imprisoned, silenced, and even killed.

“The award is not only a recognition of Maria Ressa and Dimitri Muratov’s important work. It is a recognition of everyone who works for freedom of expression around the world,” says Anders L. Pettersson, Executive Director at Civil Rights Defenders.

Maria Ressa is a well-known advocate of freedom of expression in the Philippines. She founded the news site The Rappler in 2012 and has exposed corruption and human rights abuses.

Dimitry Muratov has been the editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s few remaining major independent newspapers, since 1995. The newspaper has been the target of a series of attacks over the years, not least when journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in her apartment building in 2006.

“It is not a coincidence that these two people are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Lasting and peaceful democracies require independent media that have the courage to scrutinize those in power and hold them accountable. Maria Ressa and Dimitri Muratov’s important work for freedom of expression shows great courage,” says Anders L. Pettersson.

Putting Pressure on the Russian Government

Freedom of expression is severely restricted in Russia. Over the past 15 years, the authorities have introduced over 30 new laws that limit freedom of expression for both independent media and individuals.

Civil Rights Defenders has been monitoring the situation of democracy and human rights in Russia since the organisation was founded. Earlier this year, the Russian human rights and media project OVD-Info was awarded the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award 2021 for its work in documenting human rights abuses in Russia. With this year’s Nobel Prize, the systemic repression of critical voices in Russia comes into the limelight even more.

“We welcome the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee’s decision to focus on freedom of expression. It is a clear statement to repressive regimes that the world is watching. Hopefully, it will also give hope to all those who risk their lives to expose human rights violations,” says Anders L. Pettersson.


Maria Ressa: Joshua Lim (Sky Harbor), CC BY-SA 3.0 PH https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ph/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dimitry Muratov: Euku, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons