European Union External Action

Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press

11/03/2020 - 12:34
Democracy and Human Rights

The aim of the project is to promote freedom of the press in the Middle East and North Africa and encourage journalists to speak out and investigate.

Human Rights Samir Kassir Award


Budget: €140,000
Location: Lebanon
Date of project: Annual since 2006
Implementing Partner: Samir Kassir Foundation

Press freedom in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Gulf regions is constantly under attack, with increasing acts of repression and intimidation being recorded. Journalists are in dire need of support and protection to be able to pursue their reporting duties and commit to quality journalism without giving in to the pressure and threats of those they report about.

The European Union is committed to combating violence, persecution, harassment and intimidation of individuals, including journalists and other media actors. It considers their exercise of the right to freedom of expression online and offline as paramount, and strives to combat impunity for such crimes.

To this end, the EU works on promoting laws and practices that protect freedom of opinion and expression. It also promotes media freedom and pluralism, respect of human rights in cyberspace and other information and communication technologies.

Organised every year since 2006, the Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press honours the memory of the Lebanese journalist Samir Kassir, who was assassinated on June 2nd, 2005 in Beirut. Funded by the European Union, the Award honours journalists who have distinguished themselves through the quality of their work and their commitment to human rights, democracy, good governance and civic engagement.


Human Rights Samir Kassir Award


  • Promote freedom of the press in North Africa and Middle East
  • Encourage journalists to speak out and investigate
  • Encourage freedom of opinion and expression


Human Rights Samir Kassir Award


  • MENA and Gulf region journalists. The award is open to nationals from 18 countries and territories: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Occupied Palestinian Territory, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen


Human Rights Samir Kassir Award


  • Every year, a robust multi-platform communication and promotion strategy is launched by the European Union and Samir Kassir Foundation on social media, radio, TV and online outlets. This campaign seeks to encourage more journalists to partake in the yearly contest
  • The foundation provides candidates with support services through a dedicated hotline and email account, and allows them to apply online through a dedicated application form
  • Finalists are given the opportunity to attend a day-long event gathering students, scholars and civil society academics to discuss challenges facing Arab journalists, exchange best practices and reaffirm their commitment to human rights, free speech and rule of law in the region
  • The award ceremony annually marks the commemoration of the assassination of the late journalist Samir Kassir on 2nd June


Human Rights Samir Kassir Award


  • Increased awareness about the importance of sound, objective and analytical journalism
  • Increased motivation among journalists to report meaningful stories that have an objective impact, regardless of their potential criticism towards political parties, authorities or other stakeholders
  • On average at least 200 candidates apply for the award yearly since 2006
  • Strong participation of public officials, journalists, diplomats and civil society representatives in the award ceremony, with a significant support for freedom of the press and human rights


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