A series of reports on corruption among Supreme Court Judges in Ecuador has won the first prize for the Best Investigative Journalism Report on Corruption in Latin America and the Caribbean. The annual award, worth US$25,000, is co-ordinated by Transparency International's network in Latin America and the Caribbean (TILAC) and the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS).
The winner is Arturo Torres, editor of the Judicial Section of the El Comercio newspaper in Ecuador, who coordinated an investigative team composed of Dimitri Barreto, Jean Paul Cano and Christian Torres. In choosing this year's winner, the jury stated that "using information from different sources and through his own initiative and efforts, the work revealed the illicit enrichment of a Supreme Court judge and in turn unmasked other corrupt judges,while shedding light on the political meddling of the judiciary."
Torres was chosen by an international jury of distinguished journalists, consisting of: Tina Rosenberg, editorial page editor for The New York Times and 1996 Pulitzer Prize winner; Michael Reid, Latin American editor of The Economist; Marcelo Beraba, President of the Brazilian Investigative Journalist Association and Ombudsman of Folha de S. Paulo; Gustavo Gorriti, associate researcher at IPYS and member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ); and Gerardo Reyes, a journalist from the New Herald (Miami) and 2001 Pulitzer Prize co-winner.
"The investigation by El Comercio is an example of persistent and successful investigative research of corruption in the judiciary, one of the biggest problems afflicting citizens in Latin America," says the jury in a statement released today.
The jury also gave special recognition to María Fernanda Villosio for her investigation revealing bribery in the Argentinean Senate, (published by TXT magazine) and to Mabel Rehnfeldt and Nacha Sanchez for their series of articles on corruption in the Paraguayan state-run petrol company, PETROPAR. These prizes come with a monetary award of US$ 5,000 each.
The jury also highlighted eight investigative pieces from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Puerto Rico, and three pieces from the local media in Peru, Colombia and Mexico. In total, the jury evaluated 104 submissions from 14 countries in Latin America.
At the ceremony which took place on 13 April in Buenos Aires, the journalist Gerardo Reyes, speaking on behalf of the jury, said that the winning investigations "took place in Latin American countries where corruption is especially serious and where, consequently, the role of an independent media is fundamental."
"All the investigations presented cut to the core of the corruption problem in Latin America," said Silke Pfeiffer, Regional Director for the Americas Department at Transparency International. She added: "For TI, collaboration with journalists is crucial, because it brings to light the patterns of corruption and raises social awareness about corruption."
The Prize for Best Investigative Journalism Report on a Corruption in Latin America and the Caribbean is awarded every year. Its organisers are the Transparency International Latin America and Caribbean network (TILAC), the network comprising the various TI chapters in the region, and the Press and Society Institute (IPYS). IPYS is a regional organisation of independent journalists promoting free press and investigative journalism.
The Prize is sponsored by the Open Society Institute (OSI), a private foundation created in 1993 and based in New York. OSI promotes the development and support of open societies around the world.
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