The 2001 Lorenzo Natali Prize Jury Report - West Africa

The Lorenzo Natali Prize for journalism 2001 for west Africa



The Lorenzo Natali Prize 2001 was awarded on 20 December 2001 in Dakar to Ibiba DonPedro of the Guardian of Nigeria.

The Jury commended Raymond ARCHER of the Ghanaian Chronicle and Tunde ASAJU of the NewsWatch of Nigeria.

The Lorenzo Natali Prize for journalism 2001 for west Africa is an initiative of the European commission, implemented by the International Federation of Journalists ( IFJ) in collaboration of the west African journalists Association ( WAJA).

Jury Report on Natali 2001

The Jury of the Lorenzo Natali prize for West African journalism 2001 met on November 22 and 23, 2001 at the WAJA office in Dakar, Zone B, 30B and examined 21 entries from eight West African countries; namely Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Ghana, the Republic of Guinea, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.

The jury is made up of five members :

- President: Mrs Audrey Gadzekpo, Lecturer at the School of communication studies, University of Legon, Ghana;

- Rapporteur, Mr Gabriel Ayitè BAGLO, journalist, Regional Coordinator of IFJ-WAJA Media for Democracy programme ;

- Mr Alpha Abdallah SALL, Journalist at Senegal News Agency ( APS), Secretary General of WAJA.

- Mr Kader Diop, Assistant Director of the Regional office of Agence France Presse ( AFP)-Dakar, President of the Media Ethics committee in Senegal;

- Mr Demba JAWO, journalist, President of the Gambia Press Union, Assistant Secretary general of WAJA.

The jury was guided by the following criteria in determining the winners:

1. The entry must have been published in the print media in the year 2000;

2. The article must relate to human rights and development;

3. The article must be original and innovative;

4. The article must be of high journalistic quality,

demonstrating research and investigative skills; and

5. The article must have had an impact on society, or triggered a follow-up on the issue being addressed.

After examining all 21 entries the jury settled on three articles which best met the above requirements and which the jury considered to be deserving of this very prestigious award. We must say here that many of the entries we received and reviewed were of high journalistic standards and we congratulate all the journalists who sent in articles as well as encourage those who did not to do so next year.

The finalists for this year's Natali Prize for West African Journalism are Tunde Asaju of Newswatch in Nigeria, Raymond Archer of The Ghanaian Chronicle, and Ibiba Don Pedro of The Guardian in Nigeria.

The jury commends Tunde Asaju, second runner-up for his article entitled Tears of Victims: Human Rights Violation Commission hears sordid stories of Nigeria's ugly past.

The article is a good, insightful and analytical report on the hearings of the Human Rights Violation Investigative Commission of Nigeria, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Chukudifu Oputa. Tunde not only did a through coverage of the sessions, but went beyond the deliberations of the Commission to capture the complexities implicit in bringing relief to victims of 34 years of military rule in Nigeria.

Tears of victims highlights the difficulties faced by the Oputa Commission in its attempt to discover the truth and bring about justice and reconciliation. Most importantly the report captures the suffering, hopes and disappointments of the victims and of Nigerians in general and underscores the delicate handling of some of the cases because of the personalities involved in the terrible human rights violations which occurred in Nigeria during successive military regimes.

The impact of this article is obvious, particularly as a number of African countries have had similar experiences as that of Nigeria and are contemplating how best to confront their sordid past, reconcile people and build a better future.

The jury also commends Raymond Archer, first runner-up for his article entitled Kangaroo Police Station inside Burma Camp.

In this innovative article the reporter shows the courage and determination of a committed investigative journalist.

Raymond uncovered and exposed a secret police station operating in the military barracks without the knowledge of authorities in Ghana. It is a journalistic scoop that brought to light an illegal and extra-judicial security apparatus that was systematically abusing human rights in a constitutional democracy.

The article is well-written and demonstrates the rewards of dedicated research. The reporter took six month to collect, to check and cross check information; interviewing officials of the government at a time when the regime was still rather hostile to the media, especially the private press. Follow-up articles indicate that because of Raymond's article some victims were emboldened to publicly confirm the existence of this brutal pseudo-police station and thereby compel authorities to respond and act on the problem.

Finally, the jury selects Ibiba Don Pedro as winner of the Lorenzo Natali Prize 2001 for her article entitled Life on the harsh lane.

This is a well-written and well-researched article that focuses on the situation of women, children and men in the Niger Delta in Nigeria. The report successfully shows how, despite the oil resources being exploited by multinationals and successive governments, the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta region are still living in misery and continue to be victims of violence and other human rights violations.

It is a lively report that was written on the occasion of international women's day, but which goes beyond the usual perfunctory stories on women's rights and empowerment. Through many interviews with marginalized members of the Ogoni community, life on the harsh lane highlights the problems of poverty, systematic and orchestrated human rights abuses, women's rights and empowerment, environmental degradation, lack of development, unemployment and exploitation by foreign companies, in this oil-rich region of Africa.

Ibiba's article reminds us that beyond the famous icons of the struggle for Ogoni rights such as Ken Saro Wiwa, who was killed by the military regime of General Sani Abacha, are the many less-known victims (on whose behalf Saro Wiwa struggled) who continue to suffer silently in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria even today.


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