#IndexAwards2019 Rappler editor and actor to judge international freedom of expression awards
05 Dec 2018

Index on Censorship is proud to announce that award-winning investigative journalist Maria Ressa and actor Khalid Abdalla will join a panel of judges to decide the 2019 Freedom of Expression Awards Fellows.

The Freedom of Expression Awards, now in their 19th year, honour champions of free expression and those battling censorship around the world in the field of arts, campaigning, digital activism and journalism. Many have faced prosecution and punishment for their work.

Ressa has been a journalist in Asia for more than 30 years. She was CNN’s bureau chief in Manila then Jakarta, and became CNN’s lead investigative reporter focusing on terrorism in Southeast Asia. Now CEO and executive editor of Rappler.com, Ressa – winner of this year’s Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award presented by the Committee to Protect Journalists – is frequently targeted by Philippines’ increasingly autocratic president Rodrigo Duterte. Ressa and her company were formally indicted on multiple counts of tax evasion in late November. She is currently on bail pending her next appearance in court on 7 December.

Abdalla is a British-Egyptian actor, producer and filmmaker.  He has starred in award-winning films, including United 93, The Kite Runner and In the Last Days of the City, which he also produced. Abdalla is a founding member of three collaborative initiatives in Cairo – Cimatheque, Zero Production and Mosireen.

Abdalla said: “The abyss we are facing all over the world requires acts of courage and intellect capable of changing the terms of how we think and respond to the challenges ahead. We have to celebrate those who inspire us and lead by example, not just because they have managed to break barriers in their own contexts, but because some part of what they do holds a key for us all.”

The judging panel will also include British-Somali feminist, writer and social activist Nimco Ali, who is co-founder and director of Daughters of Eve, a survivor-led organisation which has helped to transform the approach to ending female genital mutilation (FGM). Nimco’s book RUDE: There Is No Such Thing as Over-Sharing is due out in early 2019; and British computer scientist Dr. Kate Devlin, who is a writer and senior lecturer in Social and Cultural Artificial Intelligence at King’s College London. Her book, “Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots”, explores intimacy and ethics in the digital age.

Announcing the judging panel, Index on Censorship chief executive Jodie Ginsberg said: “Our award winners and nominees often face huge personal and professional risks work defending the right for everyone to speak freely. The awards draw attention to the repression that they face every day and give us a chance to celebrate and support these inspiring journalists, activists, and artists.

“We’re excited to announce this year’s remarkable panel of judges, who are leaders and experts in their fields. The Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship recognise global free speech heroes and provide assistance so that their important work can continue.”

Previous winners of the Freedom of Expression Awards include Nobel Peace Prize winner Pakistani education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, Honduran investigative journalist Wendy Funes and Yemeni artist Murad Subay. 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. Some face regular death threats, others criminal prosecution.

Previous judges include Serpentine Galleries CEO Yana Peel, digital campaigner and entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox, Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, Harry Potter actor Noma Dumezweni, novelist Elif Shafak, award-winning journalist and former editor-in-­chief of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker Tina Brown and human rights lawyer and shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer.

The Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship ceremony 2019 will be held on 4 April in London.

More information about the judges follows:

For Index on Censorship

Sean Gallagher, [email protected]

About the Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship

Winners of the 2019 Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship receive 12 months of capacity building, coaching and strategic support. Through the fellowships, Index seeks to maximise the impact and sustainability of voices at the forefront of pushing back censorship worldwide. More information

About Index on Censorship

Index on Censorship is a London-based non-profit organisation that publishes work by censored writers and artists and campaigns against censorship worldwide. Since its founding in 1972, Index on Censorship has published some of the greatest names in literature in its award-winning quarterly magazine, including Samuel Beckett, Nadine Gordimer, Mario Vargas Llosa, Arthur Miller and Kurt Vonnegut. It also has published some of the world’s best campaigning writers from Vaclav Havel to Elif Shafak.

Khalid Abdalla, Actor and Filmmaker
Nimco Ali, Writer and Social Activist
Kate Devlin, Writer and Academic
Maria Ressa, CEO and Executive Editor

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