A series of reports published in the Brazilian newspaper Gazeta do Povo and broadcast on RPC-TV detailing the alleged misuse of public funds by the Brazilian state of Parana’s Legislative Assembly were named the winner of this year’s Latin American Investigative Journalism Award, given annually by Transparency International and the Press and Society Institute (Instituto Prensa y Sociedad).
Journalists James Alberti, Katia Brembatti, Karlos Kohlbach, and Gabriel Tabatcheik received the award during the 3rd Latin American Conference on Investigative Journalism (COLPIN 2011) in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Second and third place went to reporters from El Salvador and Argentina, respectively.
The two-year long investigation by the winning journalists from Brazil revealed that millions of dollars in public funds were being diverted by the assembly. The investigation also claimed that the assembly’s public records were not systematically documented and that accessing information which was meant to be publicly available was almost impossible.
As a result of the reports, the Public Ministry opened investigations and the assembly introduced greater oversight to hirings and improved processes for accessing public information.
Second prize went to El Salvadorian journalist Carlos Dada from ElFaro.net for uncovering crucial details in the murder of Monsignor Oscar Romero, the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, including the confession of a key perpetrator. Hugo Alconada from the Argentinean daily La Nación received third prize for bringing to light the reported use by the government of information from the official financial investigations agency as a weapon against political opponents.
A further 14 reports from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru received special mentions.
The winners were chosen from 183 nominations received from across Latin America. The jury consists of prominent investigative journalists from the region: Marcelo Beraba, Brazil; Gustavo Gorriti, Peru; María Teresa Ronderos, Colombia; and Fernando Ruiz, Argentina.
Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.
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