Meet some of the risk-takers and change-makers defending your right to information

To mark World Press Freedom Day 2021, IFEX was honoured to partner with the International Free Expression Project on an exhibit that spotlights selected illustrations from our Faces of Free Expression series. The images and text fill the street-level windows of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette building, and can be viewed in-person or online, from 3 May to 4 July.

Artist rendering of the Faces of Free Expression exhibit

IFEX’s Executive Director Annie Game’s opening remarks from the Faces of Free Expression exhibit launch appear below.

Remarks by Annie Game at the launch of a collaborative project with the International Free Expression Project, marking World Press Freedom Day 2021

“Hello. I’m Annie Game, the Executive Director of IFEX, a global network of over 100 organisations in more than 70 countries who defend and promote free expression and access to information.

Our work at the IFEX Secretariat is to make meaningful connections and harness the energy and experience of the members to meet the challenges in advocating for these foundational rights.

Allies are key in supporting these efforts, and IFEX is very happy this year to be working with the International Free Expression Project, to honour some of the remarkable people in our Faces of Free Expression series. Their stories are the stories of risk-takers and change-makers – individuals who put their careers, their freedom, their safety, and sometimes even their lives on the line, in order to defend these rights. Whether working to secure our right to information, strengthen and defend civic space, make it safer for journalists to do their work, or ensure accountability when crimes are committed against freedom of expression, their tenacity and sacrifice remain an inspiration.

You will often hear, now, people refer to journalists as working on the frontlines. The term implies risk, and with reason. As seen in Myanmar, Belarus, Venezuela, and the United States, journalists are reporting on individuals who are challenging power, calling out crime and corruption, and demanding change – and they are paying a huge price. Take Daphne Caruana Galizia, a brilliant Maltese investigative journalist who unearthed such corruption and rot among those in power that threats to her life became a common occurrence. In her last blog post, she wrote : “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.”

She was right. In 2017, Daphne was murdered. A car bomb.

Her death ignited a global campaign, led by her sons. It has resulted in a public inquiry and a trail of revelations leading straight to the masterminds behind her murder. And so this work continues, until justice can finally be declared for Daphne.

In closing, I want to emphasise that the faces you will see and the people you will read about in this exhibition are just a few in a much larger community of individuals and organisations around the world – those whose stories you may never hear. They promote and defend all our rights, often below the radar, and far too often in extremely difficult circumstances. We also honour them, with this campaign.

As a network, IFEX has learned how collaboration can help to change minds, change laws, and sometimes even move mountains. The International Free Expression Project marks another important step in the right direction. We wish you good luck, in your good work.

Thank you.”

As this year also marks 30 years since the landmark Windhoek Declaration, we produced a World Press Freedom Day edition of our Africa Brief podcast, featuring the voices of special guests Tabani Moyo (from IFEX member MISA Zimbabwe) and Zoe Titus (from the Namibia Media Trust). Take a listen as Tabani and Zoe discuss the past, present, and future challenges facing freedom of expression in Africa with IFEX Regional Editor Reyhana Masters. Then, head over to our Twitter feed to see how IFEX members are marking the day and reporting on the issues in over 70 countries around the globe.

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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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