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Amnesty International Canada’s Media Award winners for 2015

    December 08, 2015

    The effort to escape from gang violence in El Salvador, the harrowing process of forced deportation to Somalia, the struggle for fresh water in Gaza and the battle against addition to sugar in Central America are all explored in four excellent pieces of journalism. They were recognized today as winners of Amnesty International Canada’s twenty first annual Media Awards for outstanding reporting about human rights issues in the Canadian media.  

    In the national print category the winner this year is Stephanie Nolen for her feature article “If I send him, he may die. But if I keep him here, he will die.” about the attempt to escape from gang violence in El Salvador, published in The Globe and Mail on 29 August 2015. 

    “Few things in life are as heartbreaking for a parent as saying good-bye to a child leaving home for the first time,” says Jeff Sallot, one of the three judges for the media awards. “When your youngster is only 15 and is setting out accompanied only by people smugglers on a trek north through deserts and across international borders you know there are great risks. But as Stephanie Nolen reports, the greater risk to Irma Avila’s boy, Fernando, is that he will be killed by street gangs in the slums of Aguilares, El Salvador if he doesn’t leave. Nolen takes the reader along on that journey, a brutal trip necessitated by the fact El Salvador’s law enforcement authorities simply cannot control gang activity and cannot protect boys like Fernando.”

    In the video/audio category the winner is “To No Man’s Land; The Story of Saaed Jama’s Deportation To Somalia” from journalist/ producer John Chipman and documentary editor Joan Webber that was  broadcast on CBC Radio One – The Current  4 November 2014.

    “A dangerous journey of another sort is the subject of this radio documentary”, notes Jeff Sallot. “John Chipman spent a year investigating the circumstances in the deportation of Saaed Ibrahim Jama from Canada to Somalia. This is a tale involving the delivery of satchels stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash to shady charter aircraft operators in Nairobi to take Jama, a man with no identity documents, and dump him on the tarmac in Mogadishu, one of the most violent cities in the world. Chipman cuts through the veil of Canadian government secrecy surrounding deportation. He found in Jama’s case evidence of frightening and chaotic procedures that have become a routine.”

    Roberta Staley is the winner in the local / alternative print category for the feature article “Cola Kids Need A Fix” printed in Corporate Knights, Spring 2015.

    “Roberta Staley took a visit to the dentist -- something most regard as routine if unpleasant -- and deftly used it to illustrate the broader question of corporate social responsibility in the developing world,” says Madelaine Drohan, a member of the awards jury. “Marketing sugary drinks to children may not seem like a pressing global issue until you see that it loads yet more problems – malnutrition and diabetes – on a society already struggling to cope.”

    The winner in the online category was “Land Divided, Coast United” by Josie Glausiusz published on 22 April 2015 in

    “Without ever losing sight of the broader conflict in the Middle East, Josie Glausiusz showed how ongoing war threatens the very stuff of life – clean water – in the Gaza Strip,” says Madelaine Drohan. “Her piece brought out the sorrow and absurdity of allowing sewage from the Gaza Strip to flow into the Mediterranean, threatening the water supply and ultimately the health of Palestinians and Israelis alike.” 

    The judges for the Amnesty International Canada Media Awards in English this year were: Jeff Sallot, a past instructor in journalism at Carleton University and former Parliamentary reporter for The Globe and Mail, Madelaine Drohan, an author and Canada correspondent for The Economist, and John Tackaberry, Media Relations for the English branch of Amnesty International Canada, a former reporter for Inter Press Service and Pacifica Radio News.

    The awards are for national print, video/audio pieces, local/alternative print articles and online stories posted, printed or broadcast in the period from 1 October, 2014 to 30 September 2015.  


    For futher information contact:
    John Tackaberry, Media Relations (Ottawa)
    (613)744-7667 #236

    Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations (Toronto)
    (416)363-9933 #332