Created in 1997, the annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize honours a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defense and, or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.
The Prize was established on the initiative of UNESCO’s Executive Board and is formally conferred by UNESCO, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, on 3 May. It is named in honor of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper El Spectator in Bogotá, Colombia on 17 December 1986.
Born in Bogotá, Colombia on 12 August 1925, Guillermo Cano Isaza was assassinated on 17 December 1986, at the entrance to the office of El Espectador, where he had served as the editor since the age of 27. The newspaper’s building was destroyed in a bomb attack three years later.
The murder of Guillermo Cano is significant in terms of unpunished crimes against journalists. Cano was a victim of drug trafficking mafias, whom he fearlessly denounced and about whose harmful effects on Colombian society he cautioned. On 17 December 1986 two hired killers waited for him by the newspaper’s exit and fired the eight shots that killed him.
The magistrates in charge of the investigation became the object of threats and bribes, with some being murdered for rejecting such bribes. The life of Guillermo Cano, his courage, his compromise with independent journalism and the tenacity with which he fought for his country are an example for the rest of the world to follow.
“You might find it worthwhile to investigate”
The nomination form should be submitted in English or in French, by 15 February 2024 by post to: