Two Journalists who accomplished two investigations, with the support and under the supervision of the “NIRIJ” network for investigative Journalism, won the “Investigative article category” and “Student Category” awards in the 15th edition of the Samir Kassir Freedom of the Press Competition, which is organized annually with the support of the European Union .This award is considered as one of the most important and prestigious press freedom awards in the Middle East , North Africa and the Gulf region, and it’s the competition that dozens of Journalists apply for and aim to win.
This year, 212 Journalists from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen participated in the competition; 85 candidates competed in the opinion article category, 84 in the investigative report category, and 43 in the audiovisual news report category.
Investigative article category: Mostafa Abu Shams, was the winner for his investigation “Children of the Unknown” which was supported and supervised by the NIRIJ network.
The investigation presents the fate of 12,000 children born from marriages of Syrian women together with foreign fighters who had joined the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria during the conflict. These children were deprived of their basic rights as they did not receive any adequate care from the authorities and parties involved in the Syrian conflict.
– Student award category: Kamal Ayyash, was the winner for his investigative article entitled “Fifteen years after the bombing of Phosphorous : Generation of deformed births in Fallujah” which was carried out with the support and under the supervision of the NIRIJ network. The investigation reveals the consequences of the chemical weapons used in the city of Fallujah on newborns, and the lack of accountability and transparency over this issue.
This category of award was launched for the first time in this year’s session, after students from Lebanese universities had the opportunity to virtually interact with the ten candidates who reached the final stage and discussed with them the most prominent challenges facing societies in general and Journalists in particular in the Middle East , North Africa and the Gulf regions. After the discussion, students voted for their preferred candidate, choosing the Ayyash investigation.
The Opinion Essay category award went to Rim Benrjeb from Tunisia, for her article “There is Blood on my Panties: Hafsa and the Damned Chromosome”. The article sheds light on the life of the author sister Hafsa, who was born with Down Syndrome, and emotionally describes the sexual life of people with disabilities.
Meanwhile, Dalal Mawad from Lebanon won the Audiovisual News Report category award for her report “In Lebanon, a Transgender Woman tells her story”. The report describes the experience of a brave, transgender Lebanese woman, and the ordeals she had to overcome in order to remain true to herself in the face of an extremely conservative society.
The “NIRIJ” Investigative Journalism Network works mainly in Iraq, and it provides financial and technical support to Iraqi Journalists to carry out investigations on sensitive files and important cases, but it also supports the conclusion of investigations in Syria due to the overlapping of security, social, economic and environmental files between the two countries.
Colleague Mizar Kemal’s investigation, “The Endless War … The Iraqi Heavy Legacy of Depleted Uranium”, accomplished with the support of “NIRIJ”, reached the short list of the (ARIJ) Investigative Journalism Award 2019, before the Global Investigative Journalism Network selected it in the list of the best Arab investigative investigations for 2019 and published it on its Arabic website.
The “NIRIJ” network has published a series of investigations in recent months, to Journalists, Nawzat Shamdin, Dlophin Barwari, Ahmed Al-Rabiei, Laith Nateq, and the “Nineveh Investigative Team” Journalists, which investigated important topics.
Some of those investigations achieved widespread and great reactions that had an impact on pushing government agencies to follow up on the details of the files raised and take action on them.