MANILA, Philippines – The late Syrian journalist and activist Raed Fares is the recipient of the 2020 Courage in Journalism Award of the Legatum Institute.
Fares was the founder and director of the independent Syrian radio station Radio Fresh. Unknown gunmen killed him while he was on his way to cover a protest in Kafranbel, Syria, on November 23, 2018.
As a journalist, Fares was abducted multiple times and tortured by members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network. He got shot twice in the chest during an assassination attempt of members of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) in 2014.
The Legatum Institute said in statement that Fares continued to be a frequent critic of Islamic extremists in Syria despite threats to his life.
“Fares was keenly aware of the risks he was taking but continued to use his voice to build the foundations for a free, democratic Syria,” it said.
Fares was the director of the Union of Revolutionary Bureaus, a civil society organization based in Kafranbel, Syria, that had projects on medical services, therapy for teenagers, women empowerment, and media training.
The annual Courage in Journalism Award is given posthumously to a journalist who has been killed as a direct result of one’s work. It was inaugurated in 2017 after the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia to honor her.
In 2019, the award was given to investigative journalist Ján Kuciak of the Slovakian news website Aktuality.sk. Authorities believe he was killed to stop his investigations into allegations of tax fraud associated with individuals close to the then-ruling Smur Party.
According to the 2019 Legatum Prosperity Index, physical repression of journalists, government censorship of the press, and freedom of opinion and expression are all at lower levels than they were 10 years ago.
The Legatum Institute is a London-based think-tank whose global vision is to raise people out of poverty. – Rappler.com
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