Al Jazeera wins two Amnesty Media awards

I-Unit wins for an investigation into Bangladesh state corruption; AJ English wins for a report on rape as a weapon of war.

Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit and the Aljazeera.com News Desk have earned top prizes in the eighth annual Amnesty Media Awards honouring the best human rights journalism of the year.

The I-Unit won in the Investigation category for All the Prime Minister’s Men, an hourlong documentary which uncovered large-scale corruption at the heart of the state of Bangladesh.

The film revealed how the former army chief, General Aziz Ahmed, protected his criminal brothers by helping them escape the law and profit from corruption schemes involving the country’s security forces.

The documentary also revealed how Bangladesh had secretly acquired highly invasive spyware from Israel, a country with which it officially has no diplomatic relations.

The Bangladesh government claimed that the mobile phone interception equipment was destined for use on the United Nations peacekeeping missions, a claim that was challenged by the UN and which stated that such spyware is not mandated for use by UN forces and called for a full investigation into military corruption.

“Exposing human rights abuses is a core value of the I-Unit and winning the investigation of the year from Amnesty International is a huge honour,” said Phil Rees, Al Jazeera’s director of investigative journalism.

The Al Jazeera Digital website, Aljazeera.com, also took top prize in the Written News category for ‘A Tigrayan womb should never give birth’: Rape in Tigray.

Written and reported by journalist Lucy Kassa, the news feature captures the testimonies of displaced women and men from Ethiopia’s western Tigray region who described cases of rape, looting and extrajudicial killings. The abuses were allegedly perpetrated by Amhara forces.

Published in April 2021, the feature reported a precipitous spike in Tigrayan hospital cases of injuries due to alleged political and sexual violence against Tigrayan women. A hospital director in the report put at more than 800 the number of women and girls who had registered with complaints of sexual violence during the peak of hostilities.

Rights groups fear the numbers may have been higher – especially in rural and mountainous areas most affected by the war.

“This was a difficult story to report on and I am immensely proud of the team for seeing it through,” said Soraya Salam, Al Jazeera English’s manager of online.

“Amnesty’s honour is a testament to the power of working with local women’s voices to elevate the stories often underreported in conflict and that highlight the sad, ongoing reality of rape being used as a weapon of war.”

The awards were conferred by Amnesty International UK on May 4 in London.

Winners and shortlisted finalists in other categories included The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Audible UK, BBC News, BBC Storyville, BBC Arabic, ITV, Sky News, BBC News Russia and BBC Digital News.

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