A report in the Colombian magazine Semana about illegal wire tapping by a Columbian government department was named the winner of the 2009 Latin American Award on Investigative Journalism, given annually by Transparency International (TI) and the Press and Society Institute (IPYS).
Journalists Ricardo Calderón, Alejandro Santos, Alfonso Cuéllar, Luz María Sierra and Carlos Eduardo Huertas received the award during this year’s 2010 Latin American Conference on Investigative Journalism (COLPIN). The second and third placed awards went to reporters from Brazil and El Salvador.
The winning series detailed the wire tapping of opposition politicians, magistrates and journalists without judicial permission by Colombia’s Administrative Department of Security. As a result of the investigation, the attorney general and the public prosecutor opened investigations.
The second prize went to Brazilian journalists Rosa Costa, Leandro Colon and Rodrigo Rangel from O Estado de São Paolo for reporting on corruption and nepotism that involved José Sarney, former president of Brazil and President of Congress at the time of the investigation. Oscar Martinez, from the on-line publication ElFaro.net was awarded the third place prize for a report showing how the mafia is benefiting from illegal migrants that cross the Mexican-United States border.
A further 13 reports from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Venezuela received special mentions.
“The quality of the winning reports has been exceptionally good and has had great impact in its countries,” said Ricardo Uceda, Executive Director of IPYS.
The winners were chosen from 230 nominations received from across Latin America and the Caribbean. The jury included senior journalists from the Americas Tina Rosenberg (USA), Giannina Segnini (Costa Rica), Gustavo Gorriti (Peru), Marcelo Beraba (Brazil) and Gerardo Reyes (Colombia).
“These reports show us how corruption works in real life,” said Alejandro Salas, Regional Director for the Americas at TI.
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