Mahjoub Mohamed Salih Acceptance Speech - 2005 ICFJ Awards Dinner

It is really gratifying to receive the prestigious Knight International Press Fellowship Award. It is both an honor and a privilege – an honor as it is a professional prize, given by a highly respected professional body on purely professional grounds. It is a privilege because it reflects international media solidarity and underlines mutual cooperation. It sends a clear message that world media recognizes and supports all professional journalists struggling anywhere in the world to establish free and independent newspapers.

No doubt such recognition is a great incentive to all journalists working under repressive regimes. Newspapers are a product of democracy. If a country is denied democracy it cannot enjoy press freedom. Producing newspapers under such conditions becomes a hazardous enterprise fraught with dangers. Media operatives face unlawful detention, harassment, intimidation and the banning of publications.

Despite all these difficulties many journalists around the world courageously defy such conditions and insist on publishing independent, credible newspapers. It is highly gratifying to them to know that their efforts are being recognized by the profession.

I am pleased to say that, after a long and costly struggle, we in the Sudan are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. A window of opportunity is opening. We are still to see complete peace and full transformation to democracy, but we feel we are on the right track. We will not relent until our goal is achieved and full guarantees for freedom of information and expression are in place. We still need the support and solidarity of world media to enable us to walk the last mile.

We need more than moral support. We also need professional cooperation in training young journalists to temper their newly gained freedom with responsibility and ethical professionalism. This is the challenge we face today. I am glad to see that ICFJ is doing a fine job in this area, and we are looking forward to more intensive training programs.

In conclusion, let me once again repeat my thanks and appreciation for the award.