The awards, now in their 18th year, honour those at the forefront of tackling censorship in the field of arts, campaigning, digital advocacy and journalism. Many of the winners face regular persecution for their work, including jail, death threats or harassment.
Award winners will be honoured at a gala ceremony in London in April 2018 and receive training, promotion and tailored support from Index as part of the year-long awards fellowship programme.
The partnership with VICE News follows two years of support from VICE News in producing the shortlist videos for the Freedom of Expression Awards ceremony. For 2018, VICE News will continue this support and become the named sponsors of the Journalism Award category, highlighting their commitment to investigative journalism from around the world.
“Censorship and free expression are not simply regional issues, they are international ones. This year, we have seen journalists killed and jailed across the world - from Mexico to Malta to the Maldives - for their commitment to reporting the truth,” said Jodie Ginsberg, Index on Censorship chief executive.
“In a world that is growing increasingly unfriendly towards journalism, it is more important than ever to support the hard-working journalists around the globe who combat censorship and oppression daily. It’s great to the have the support from VICE News, an organisation that understands and recognizes the need for this award, and champions the work of reporters globally,” she added.
Cheryll Simpson, London Bureau Chief, VICE News said: "The quality of information and concerns over the distribution of fake and inaccurate news is a very real challenge facing newsrooms everywhere. Alongside these trends journalists are also still increasingly susceptible to many physical risks such as intimidation, attack & imprisonment, especially in regions where freedom of the press is limited. VICE News is very proud to sponsor Index On Censorship to support and protect the voices that are crucial in bringing us the stories that need to be told."
In 2016, VICE News journalists Philip Pendlebury and Jake Hanrahan presented the Freedom of Expression Award for Journalism to Zaina Erhaim, a Syrian-based journalist training female reporters. Index had campaigned for Pendlebury and Hanrahan’s release and that of their colleague Mohammed Rasool after they were arrested and imprisoned by Turkish authorities on charges of assisting a terrorist organisation.
Previous winners of the Freedom of Expression Awards include Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Hundreds of public nominations are made for the awards each year. Many of those nominated are regularly targeted by authorities or by criminal and extremist groups for their work.
The shortlist for the 2018 awards will be announced in early 2018 and the winners will be announced on 19 April in London.
Links / further reading: Index on Censorship