Best Investigative Journalism Report on Corruption in Latin America and Caribbean award goes to Nicaraguan journalist
The Transparency International (TI) Integrity Awards 2003 were awarded today to Dr Dora Akunyili, the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration in Nigeria, Sua Rimoni Ah Chong, the former Controller and Chief Auditor of Samoa, and Anna Hazare, an Indian campaigner against corruption in forestry and in government.
The fourth annual TI Integrity Awards were presented today at the opening ceremony of the 11th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Seoul, Korea, hosted by the government of South Korea, on 25-28 May 2003. Transparency International (TI), the world's leading organisation engaged in the fight against corruption, provides the secretariat to the IACC (see http://www.11iacc.org/iacc/index.html). The 11th IACC was opened by Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.
The TI Integrity Awards included special posthumous recognition to Abdelhai Beliardouh, an investigative journalist from Algeria, and Antonio Siba-Siba Macuacua, the chairman of the largest commercial bank in Mozambique, both of whom died while taking a stand against corruption. Valid nominations were received from more than 40 countries.
Dr Dora Akunyili, 48, Director General of Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and a pharmacologist by training, has defied death threats while tackling corrupt practices in the manufacturing, import and export of drugs, cosmetics and food products. Since taking up her position in April 2001, Dr Akunyili has earned nationwide respect for her persistence in prosecuting illegal drug traders and in imposing strict standards on multinational companies. In particular, she has pursued manufacturers and importers of counterfeit drugs, deemed to be a leading cause of deaths by stroke and heart failure in Nigeria. Counterfeit drugs worth an estimated US$16 million have been confiscated and destroyed by Dr Akunyili and her staff, in the process saving the lives of thousands of innocent Nigerians.
Sua Rimoni Ah Chong, 50, former Controller and Chief Auditor of Samoa, faced serious threats when he exposed financial crime at the highest levels of government of Samoa in the South Pacific. From 1992 to 1995 Ah Chong refused to authorise illegal payments to Cabinet Ministers. When in 1994 his Annual Report to Parliament implicated six out of 13 ministers over improper activities and payments, the Cabinet appointed a Commission of Inquiry, not into the irregularities, but into the Chief Auditor himself. The committee's members included several of the persons criticised in his report. He was suspended in July 1995 and later, after the Constitution was amended for that purpose, dismissed. He is still fighting a legal battle against his suspension and dismissal.
Anna Hazare (as Kisan Babu Rao is widely known) is a renowned anti-corruption campaigner in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Hazare, now 64, has been campaigning for more than 20 years to end corruption in government. Due to Hazare's efforts, two ministers in the ruling party in Maharashtra resigned over corruption and the government proceeded against corrupt officials in the forest department. Hazare and a team of lawyers now handle corruption cases brought to their attention by citizens. Having submitted more than 700 cases to the government, he has threatened to fast from 9 August 2003 unless appropriate action is taken against the corrupt politicians and officials.
In addition to the three Integrity Awards winners at the ceremony on 25 May, TI paid posthumous tributes to two people who lost their lives while fighting corruption. Abdelhae Beliardouh, an investigative journalist for the weekly El Watan in the town of Tébessa, close to the Tunisian border, was writing a series of reports on corruption in cross-border trade. His reports led to his kidnapping and torture by an armed gang. The violence against him drove him to take his own life. He died on 19 November 2002.
António Siba-Siba Macuácua was due in two days to submit a report on the financial situation of Austral Bank, the largest commercial bank in Mozambique, when he was murdered, aged 33, in the bank's offices on 11 August 2001. Director of the Department of Banking Supervision at the Central Bank, Siba-Siba Macuácua had been made acting chairman of Austral Bank to oversee its re-privatisation. Before his death, he published a list of the bank's debtors, and tracked down and cancelled bogus contracts. His murder remains unresolved.
A broadcast video of the TI Integrity Award 2003 winners will soon be available on request
Jorge Loásiga, journalist from La Prensa of Managua (Nicaragua), wins prize awarded by Transparency International and the Press and Society Institute (Instituto Prensa y Sociedad)
Investigations into mishandling of funds by Latin American presidents were identified as some of the exceptional reports presented in the first year of the Prize for Best Investigative Journalism Report on a Corruption Case in Latin America and the Caribbean, awarded annually by Transparency International in Latin America and the Caribbean (TILAC) and the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS). The prize, an award of $25,000, was presented during the 11th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Seoul, Korea, on 25 May 2003.
An international jury, composed of Tina Rosenberg, editorial page editor for The New York Times; Michael Reid, Latin American editor of The Economist; Marcelo Beraba, director of the Rio se Janeiro office of Folha de S. Paulo; Gustavo Gorriti, associate researcher at IPYS; and Juan Lozano, until recently director of Colombia's CityTV, declared Jorge Loásiga, journalist at La Prensa of Managua, winner of the prize.
Loáisiga presented a series of investigative articles on the embezzlement of state funds on the part of Arnoldo Aleman, President of Nicaragua, and in office at the time the articles were published (1997-2002). The investigation, known as "Los checazos de Alemán" (Aleman's Cheques), was chosen from amongst 100 works by a unanimous decision of the Jury. In its final declaration, the jury highlighted that "by bringing to light significant evidence, Loáisiga's research achieved conclusive findings" as well as "the considerable research efforts Loáisiga made prior to proof gathering". Loásiga, 35, investigated alleged malpractice by the Alemán government over the course of more than a year.
Among the ten finalists were investigations by Daniel Santoro of Clarín in Buenos Aires, by Rodolfo Flores of Siglo XXI in Guatemala, together with investigations from Rolando Rodríguez of La Prensa in Panama, of Colombian journalists Norbey Quevedo and Fabio Castillo of El Espectador, and of members of the staff of El Meridiano in Cordoba, Colombia. Finalists from Brazil were Amaury Ribeyro of Istoé and Fábio Gusmco of Extra. Two television investigations were noted as the most prominent in their category: that of Eduardo Faustini of TV Globo, and that of Miguel Agosta de Telenoche Investiga, airing on Canal 13 in Argentina.
The Prize for Best Investigative Journalism Report on a Corruption Case in Latin America and the Caribbean is awarded every year. Its organisers are the Transparency International Latin America and the Caribbean network (TILAC), the network comprising the various Transparency International (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.
Note for Editors on the 11th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC):
The 11th IACC is co-organised by Transparency International, and hosted by the Government of South Korea. It will be attended by business and political luminaries, many of whom are drawn from the ranks of the anti-corruption movement. Korea's new Prime Minister, Goh Kun, also former mayor of Seoul and Chairman of Transparency International-Korea, will address the conference. Other speakers will include Hans Kung, President of the Foundation for Global Ethics and Professor of Ecumenical Theory at the University of Tubingen, Kiraitu Murungi, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Kenya, and Yong-Sung Park, Vice Chairman of Doosan Group and Vice-Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Partners in preparing the conference include the United Nations, the World Bank, Interpol and the International Association of Prosecutors, as well as the International Chamber of Commerce, Global Witness and Public Services International. Delegates will include John Githongo, a former TI Board member and Executive Director of TI Kenya, who is now Permanent Secretary for Governance and Ethics in the office of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Jose Ugaz, former State Attorney for the Fujimori and Montesinos case and president of Proetica, TI's national chapter-in-formation in Peru. Among the journalists expected are Justin O'Brien, author of the forthcoming book A Corrupted State: Wall Street On Fire.
The IACC will include 60 hands-on workshops on money laundering, the media, corruption in aid, health, post-conflict reconstruction, and party funding. The conference will also feature numerous side events, including Film for Transparency II, an international film festival showcasing feature and student films from around the globe, and Art for Transparency, an exhibition of Korean and international art on anti-corruption themes.
The 11th IACC will, for the first time, be directly followed at the same venue by the Global Forum III (29-31 May 2003), an intergovernmental conference on confronting corruption and safeguarding integrity (see: www.globalforum3.org/).
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