International Press Freedom Awards

Mae Azango, Liberia


2012 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee

(Courtesy of CNN)

To watch Mae Azango's acceptance speech, click here.

One of a small number of female reporters in her native Liberia, Mae Azango is also one of the most acclaimed journalists in the country. After her father was killed by rebels in 1990 during the country's civil war, Azango pursued journalism as a way to give a voice to people's suffering. Since 2002, upon returning from exile as a war refugee, she has exposed the plight of ordinary people, particularly women and girls, who have been victimized by issues that were long hushed in her society. 

In 2010, Azango took on the taboo subject of female genital mutilation, a traditional practice so politically sensitive and entrenched in the culture that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had deemed it untouchable. Azango began receiving threats, and with the authorities doing nothing to help, she and her 9-year-old daughter were forced into hiding for weeks. Throughout, she continued to report on the practice.

An international outcry erupted after Azango was threatened, which forced the government to reluctantly break their silence. For the first time, Liberian officials were forced to order the suspension of the practice, which affects as many as two out of every three Liberian girls.

Azango's incisive reporting has also exposed police brutality against the mother of a rape victim, which resulted in the jailing of a police officer. She has worked with the Telegraph and the Daily Observer, and is now with the leading independent investigative news site FrontPage Africa. She is also a reporter with New Narratives, a reporting project that gathers leading African journalists to produce hard-hitting, investigative stories. In 2011, she won a grant from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting to conduct a field report on reproductive health. 

More on the Awards

2015
Cándido Figueredo Ruíz (Paraguay), Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (Syria), Zone 9 Bloggers (Ethiopia), Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque,“Zunar” (Malaysia)

2014
Aung Zaw (Burma), Siamak Ghaderi (Iran), Mikhail Zygar (Russia), Ferial Haffajee (South Africa)

2013
Janet Hinostroza (Ecuador), Bassem Youssef (Egypt), Nedim Şener (Turkey), Nguyen Van Hai (Vietnam)

2012
Mauri König (Brazil), Dhondup Wangchen (China), Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan), Mae Azango (Liberia)

2011
Mansoor al-Jamri (Bahrain), Natalya Radina (Belarus), Javier Valdez Cárdenas (Mexico), Umar Cheema (Pakistan)

2010
Mohammad Davari (Iran), Nadira Isayeva (Russia), Dawit Kebede (Ethiopia), Laureano Márquez (Venezuela)

2009
Mustafa Haji Abdinur (Somalia), Naziha Réjiba (Tunisia), Eynulla Fatullayev (Azerbijan), J.S. Tissainayagam (Sri Lanka)

2008
Bilal Hussein (Iraq), Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad (Afghanistan), Andrew Mwenda (Uganda), Hector Maseda Gutiérrez (Cuba)

2007
Dmitry Muratov (Russia), Mazhar Abbas (Pakistan), Adela Navarro Bello (Mexico), Gao Qinrong (China)

2006
Jesús Abad Colorado (Colombia), Jamal Amer (Yemen), Madi Ceesay (The Gambia), Atwar Bahjat (Iraq)

2005
Galima Bukharbaeva (Uzbekistan), Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe), Lúcio Flávio Pinto (Brazil), Shi Tao (China)

2004
Svetlana Kalinkina (Belarus), Aung Pwint and Thaung Tun (Burma), Alexis Sinduhije (Burundi), Paul Klebnikov (United States)

2003
Abdul Samay Hamed (Afghanistan), Aboubakr Jamai (Morocco), Musa Muradov (Russia), Manuel Vázquez Portal (Cuba)

2002
Ignacio Gómez (Colombia), Tipu Sultan (Bangladesh), Irina Petrushova (Kazakhstan), Fesshaye Yohannes (Eritrea)

2001
Jiang Weiping (China), Geoff Nyarota (Zimbabwe), Horacio Verbitsky (Argentina), Mazen Dana (West Bank)

2000
Zeljko Kopanja (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Modeste Mutinga (DRC), Steven Gan (Malaysia), Mashallah Shamsolvaezin (Iran)

1999
Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández (Cuba), Baton Haxhiu (Kosovo), Jugnu Mohsin and Najam Sethi (Pakistan), María Cristina Caballero (Columbia)

1998
Grémah Boucar (Niger), Gustavo Gorriti (Panama), Pavel Sheremet (Belarus), Ruth Simon (Eritrea)

1997
Viktor Ivancic (Croatia), Freedom Neruda (Ivory Coast), Christine Anyanwu (Nigeria). Ying Chan (United States) and Shieh Chung-Liang (Taiwan)

1996
Ocak Isik Yurtçu (Turkey), Daoud Kuttab (Palestinian Authority), J. Jesus Blancornelas (Mexico), Yusuf Jameel (India)