On November 16, 2020, François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Dominic Raab, the United Kingdom’s First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, announced the winner of the inaugural Canada-United Kingdom Media Freedom Award to recognize the journalists, individuals and organizations that actively promote and protect media freedom around the world.

Among the top five shortlisted, out of over 60 global nominations, was the Belarusian Association of Journalists (Belarus), Centro de Investigacion y Capacitacion Propuesta Civica (Mexico), SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom (Lebanon), Dr. Ranga Kalansooriya (Sri Lanka) and Mary Ajith Goch (South Sudan).

Dr Ranga Kalansooriya is one of Sri Lanka’s pioneers in promoting the safety of journalists, media freedom and freedom of expression (FoE). He currently serves as the Asia Regional Advisor for International Media Support (IMS), on policy advocacy, research and capacity building in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines and Indonesia.

The Belarusian Association of Journalists, was jointly announced as the winner during this year’s Global Conference for Media Freedom, held virtually on November 16, 2020, and hosted by Canada and Botswana. The conference builds on the success of its inaugural session, held in London, United Kingdom, in 2019.

The establishment of the Media Freedom Award is one part of Canadian-UK efforts to drive international action on improving the safety of journalists around the world. The UK and Canada believe strongly that a free and independent media is an essential component of a functioning society, leading to greater stability and prosperity.

Canadian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Maldives David McKinnon and British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Sarah Hulton congratulated  Dr.Ranga Kalansooriya, on placing among the top five nominees for the 2020 Canada-United Kingdom Media Freedom Award.