#IndexAwards2017: Harry Potter actor Noma Dumezweni to judge leading free speech awards

Harry Potter actor Noma Dumezweni, Doughty Street Chambers lawyer Caiolfhionn Gallagher, former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown, Superflux co-founder Anab Jain and Heaven 17’s former manager Stephen Budd.

Harry Potter actor Noma Dumezweni will join a panel of judges that also includes Hillsborough lawyer Caiolfhionn Gallagher and former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown to decide the 2017 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award winners.

The awards, now in their 17th year, honour those at the forefront of challenging censorship in the field of arts, campaigning, journalism and digital advocacy. Many of the winners face regular persecution for their work.

Dumezweni, who plays Hermione in the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, was shortlisted earlier this year for an Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress. Speaking about the importance of the Index Awards she said: “Freedom of expression is essential to help challenge our perception of the world”.

Caoilfhionn Gallagher is a public law specialist at Doughty Street Chambers who represented the bereaved families in the 7/7 London bombings, and the Hillsborough football stadium tragedy. In October 2016 she was named Human Rights and Public Law Junior of the Year at the Chambers UK Bar Awards.

“Freedom of expression is needed now more than ever, as many governments worldwide are attempting to stifle critical voices. Some do this in ways which are blatant breaches of fundamental freedoms, others’ methods are more subtle but still pose a significant threat to free speech and democracy. Now, more than ever, we must fight to protect and champion freedom of expression,” said Gallagher.

Other judges on the panel include Tina Brown, an award-winning journalist and former editor-in-­chief of Tatler, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker; Anab Jain, TED fellow and co-founder of Superflux, a company focused on emerging technologies; and Stephen Budd, chairman of the Music Managers Forum and co-founder of Damon Albarn’s ‘Africa Express’ musical collaborations project.

Announcing the judging panel, Index on Censorship chief executive Jodie Ginsberg said: “No one should be punished for speaking freely — yet across the world we see journalists muzzled for challenging politicians, musicians silenced for questioning the status quo, or cartoonists forced to drop their pens because they mocked the powerful and the corrupt.”

“Our awards celebrate those who fight back. And we’re delighted to have such an impressive panel selecting this year’s winners.”

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. Some face regular death threats, others criminal prosecution.

Previous judges include digital campaigner and entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox, Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, novelist Elif Shafak, journalist and campaigner Mariane Pearl, and human rights lawyer Keir Starmer.

The Freedom of Expression Awards 2017 will be held on April 19 at the Unicorn Theatre.

For more information, please contact Helen Galliano: [email protected].

Notes for editors

Index on Censorship, founded in 1972 by poet Stephen Spender, campaigns for freedom of expression worldwide. Its award-winning quarterly magazine has featured writers such as Vaclav Havel, Nadine Gordimer, Arthur Miller, Philip Pullman, Salman Rushdie, Aung San Suu Kyi and Amartya Sen.

Award winners become Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award Fellows and receive training and support for a year after the awards to help them maximise the impact of their work.

#Index100: Unveiling this year’s 100 global free speech heroes


A graffiti artist who paints murals in war-torn Yemen, a jailed Bahraini academic and the Ethiopia’s Zone 9 bloggers are among those honoured in this year’s #Index100 list of global free expression heroes.

Selected from public nominations from around the world, the #Index100 highlights champions against censorship and those who fight for free expression against the odds in the fields of arts, journalism, activism and technology and whose work had a marked impact in 2015.

Those on the long list include Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, Angolan journalist Sedrick de Carvalho, website Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently and refugee arts venue Good Chance Calais. The #Index100 includes nominees from 53 countries ranging from Azerbaijan to China to El Salvador and Zambia, and who were selected from around 500 public nominations.

“The individuals and organisations listed in the #Index100 demonstrate courage, creativity and determination in tackling threats to censorship in every corner of globe. They are a testament to the universal value of free expression. Without their efforts in the face of huge obstacles, often under violent harassment, the world would be a darker place,” Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg said.

Those in the #Index100 form the long list for the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards to be presented in April. Now in their 16th year, the awards recognise artists, journalists and campaigners who have had a marked impact in tackling censorship, or in defending free expression, in the past year. Previous winners include Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Argentina-born conductor Daniel Barenboim and Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat.

A shortlist will be announced in January 2016 and winners then selected by an international panel of judges. This year’s judges include Nobel Prize winning author Wole Soyinka, classical pianist James Rhodes and award-winning journalist María Teresa Ronderos. Other judges include Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, tech “queen of startups” Bindi Karia and human rights lawyer Kirsty Brimelow QC.

The winners will be announced on 13 April at a gala ceremony at London’s Unicorn Theatre.

The awards are distinctive in attempting to identify individuals whose work might be little acknowledged outside their own communities. Judges place particular emphasis on the impact that the awards and the Index fellowship can have on winners in enhancing their security, magnifying the impact of their work or increasing their sustainability. Winners become Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards Fellows and are given support for the year after their fellowship on one aspect of their work.

“The award ceremony was aired by all community radios in northern Kenya and reached many people. I am happy because it will give women courage to stand up for their rights,” said 2015’s winner of the Index campaigning award, Amran Abdundi, a women’s rights activist working on the treacherous border between Somalia and Kenya.

Each member of the long list is shown on an interactive map on the Index website where people can find out more about their work. This is the first time Index has published the long list for the awards.

For more information on the #Index100, please contact [email protected] or call 0207 260 2665. 

Nominations open for Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards 2016


  • Awards honour journalists, campaigners and artists fighting censorship globally
  • Judges will include poet and playwright Wole Soyinka, pianist James Rhodes and human rights lawyer Kirsty Brimelow 
  • Nominate at indexoncensorship.org/nominations
  • Nominations are open from 15 September to 19 October 2015

Beginning today, nominations for the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards 2016 are open. Now in their 16th year, the awards have honoured some of the world’s most remarkable free expression heroes – from Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim to Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat to education activist Malala Yousafzai.

The awards shine a spotlight on individuals fighting to speak out in the most dangerous and difficult of conditions.

Index invites the public, NGOs and media organisations to nominate anyone they believe deserves to be part of this impressive peer group: a hall of fame of some of those at the forefront of tackling censorship worldwide.

There are four categories in Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Awards:

• Arts for artists and arts producers whose work challenges repression and injustice and celebrates artistic free expression.

• Campaigning for activists and campaigners who have had a marked impact in fighting censorship and promoting freedom of expression.

• Digital Activism for innovative uses of technology to circumvent censorship and enable free and independent exchange of information.

• Journalism for courageous, high impact and determined journalism that exposes censorship and threats to free expression.

Winners will be flown to London for the gala ceremony, which will take place at The Unicorn Theatre in London on 13 April 2016. In 2015, the ceremony was hosted by comedian Shappi Khorsandi, with awards presented by judges and special guests including Martha Lane Fox, Mariane Pearl, Elif Shafak and Keir Starmer.

Winners also become awards fellows and receive support to amplify their work for free expression. As fellows, winners become part of a world-class network of campaigners, activists and artists sharing best practice on tackling censorship threats internationally.

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index, said: “The Freedom of Expression Awards turn up the volume on the censored and silenced. I encourage everyone, no matter where they are in the world, to nominate a free expression hero so their voices can be heard.”

The 2016 awards shortlist will be announced in late January 2016.

Judges in 2016 will include Nobel prize-winning Nigerian poet and playwright Wole Soyinka; Kirsty Brimelow QC, a human rights barrister and chair of The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales; and classical pianist James Rhodes, whose memoir Instrumental was published earlier this year after the UK Supreme Court overturned a publication ban.

Rhodes said: “The Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko once wrote: ‘When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie’ – and to honour those who fight to speak out and break that silence is a privilege. Having experienced first hand the terrifying impact of censorship, I’m thrilled to be able to play a small part in acknowledging the bravery of those who continue to express themselves in the face of unimaginable oppression.”

For more information on the awards, please contact [email protected] or call +44 (0)207 260 2660.