MANILA, Philippines – Rappler CEO and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa was named a recipient of the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s inaugural Albie Awards, an honor that recognizes “courageous defenders of justice” whose jobs place them at risk.
The award, named after South African Justice Albie Sachs who is known widely for his commitment to ending apartheid in the country, will be given in a ceremony in New York City on Thursday, September 29. The event will be hosted by the Clooney Foundation for Justice and the Ford Foundation.
In a statement, the Clooney Foundation said the award serves as a new platform that would “shine a protective light on the many courageous individuals who, at great personal risk, have devoted their lives to justice.”
For this year’s ceremony, Ressa will be honored with the Justice for Journalists Award.
The September 29 event will also see Sachs himself honored with a lifetime achievement award.
Other recipients of the Albie Awards include the following:
- Justice for Survivors Award: iAct, a group that supported survivors of genocide in refugee camps
- Justice for Democracy Defenders Award: Belarusian human rights group Viasna
- Justice for Women Award: Dr. Josephine Kulea of the Kenya-based Samburu Girls Foundation
“We believe that justice must be waged – it doesn’t just happen. So when journalists are locked up just for doing their job, we try to get them out of prison. When young girls are denied the right to study, work, or marry when they want, we help them fight for their rights through the courts. When minorities are targeted for genocide, we help trigger trials against the perpetrators,” said George and Amal Clooney.
Ford Foundation President Darren Walker added: “We are seeing attacks on journalists, human rights defenders, women, LGBTQ people and minorities proliferating worldwide, with very little accountability. With the Albie Awards, we hope to bring much-needed attention to the courageous work of our award-winners.”
According to the Clooney Foundation, Michelle Obama, Meryl Streep, Oscar Isaac, Dua Lipa, Aloe Blacc, John Oliver, Julia Roberts, Nadia Murad, Bruce Springsteen, and Patti Scialfa “are a few of the people who have signed on to be part of the evening and raise their voices on behalf of the honorees.”
Ressa and Rappler currently face at least seven active cases as of June 2022, including a closure order initiated by the previous Duterte administration as part of attempts to stifle criticism and press freedom.
Amal Clooney is one of the leaders of Ressa’s international legal team. She had previously called on the Philippine government to junk charges filed against Ressa and overturn her 2020 conviction of cyber libel, a decision that is being appealed at the Court of Appeals.
In December 2021, Ressa received the Nobel Peace Prize, making her the first Filipino to receive the prestigious award. – Rappler.com