ABC 20/20, Sweden's TV4 receive intl Watchdog awards

MUMBAI: An ABC News 20/20 report in the US, documenting systematic sexual exploitation of girls and boys by UN peacekeepers and civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been awarded the Outstanding Investigative Reporting prize for 2005 by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the international arm of the American organisation Center for Public Integrity.

The ICIJ Award judges said the ABC 20/20 report represented "investigative journalism at its finest" and was "a riveting expose, a story superbly told."For the first time, the atrocities and rights violations on the part of the UN and its representatives are exposed and documented. ABC did its homework, took its cameras to the crime scenes in the Congo, convinced victims to tell their awful stories on the record and then nailed UN officials, also on camera, for their inadequate responses to UN 'peacekeepers' having sex with young girls and boys," the judges wrote in their letter of commendation.

In ABC 20/20's Peace at What Price: Investigating UN Misconduct in the Congo, Brian Ross, David Wilson Scott and Rhonda Schwartz travelled to the Congo where they interviewed victims and revealed, among other things, the case of a senior UN official who ran an Internet paedophile ring.

In addition, Sweden's TV4 won a special citation award of $2,000 for its hour-long documentary The Broken Promise which exposed US government involvement in the "extraordinary rendition," of two Egyptian citizens from Sweden to Egypt. Fredrik Laurin, Joachim Dyfvermark, and Sven Bergman revealed how the men were interrogated and tortured for more than 60 days as part of the US global war on terrorism.

The ICIJ Awards were created in 1997 to honour transnational investigative reporting. The $20,000 first-place prize and $1,000 finalist awards are made possible by a grant from The John and Florence Newman Foundation to recognise, reward and foster international investigative reporting. Award winners and finalists include journalists from Bulgaria, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the US. 

Four entries received the $1,000 finalist award:

-- Miroluba Emilova Benatova of Bulgaria's bTV for her television

investigation Kidney Traffic.

-- Alfredo Corchado, Tracey Eaton, Laurence Iliff, and David McLemore of the Dallas Morning News, for their series documenting drug related violence along the US-Mexico border.

-- Ola Flyum, David Hebditch of NRK/SVT/and DR Television in Norway for

their documentary The Manuscript Collector/Stealing History. 

-- Daniel Foggo and Charlotte Edwardes of The Sunday Telegraph in the U.K.

for their series of stories on illegal abortions.

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