Sri Lanka project won global award

Sonali Samarasinghe’s work to reveal misuse of power and corruption in Sri Lanka made her the second winner of the Global Shining Light Award Saturday at GIJC.

Ingrid Hvidsten, William E. Graham, Amund Trellevik 13.09.2008 21:58
Sonali Samarasinghe

Sonali Samarasinghe. Left: Sandra Barlett and Tamara Urushadze


Sven Bergman, Joachim Dyfvermark and Fredrik Laurin

Sven Bergman, Joachim Dyfvermark and Fredrik Laurin who won the Daniel Pearl award.

Sonali Samarasinghe’s work to reveal misuse of power and corruption in Sri Lanka made her the second winner of the Global Shining Light Award Saturday at GIJC. 

- I cannot accept this prize without remembering my colleagues in Sri Lanka. The last two years, 12 journalists have been killed, and one has been held hostage for 180 days, Sonali Samarasinghe said when she has brought to stage to receive the Global Shining Light Award.
Her colleague has been in custody for 180 days, detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. He is working for the Sri Lankian weekly newspaper Sunday Times.
Samarasinghe was awarded for her articles on “Gangsterism and the faulty legal system” for The Sunday Leader in Sri Lanka.
Sonali Samarasinghe and the Sunday Leader decided enough was enough. What started out as an attempt to follow-up on the beating of a bar patron by the son and body guards of a powerful government minister became an investigation that exposed how that government minister used his power and connections to the Prime Minister, to run roughshod over the media and the justice system. Samarasinghe tracked down all the people connected to the beating and in the process found many other people, including police officers and lawyers with stories of corruption and brutality by the government minister and his son.
- Hopefully, this award will show that our work does not pass unnoticed internationally, the prize-winning journalist said on stage.
Second place, and a winner of a plaquet, was the project "The Minister and the Mining Sector", by Edik Baghdasaryan – Armenia.
The jury says: "What started as an attempt to clarify why the country’s Environment Ministry was seemingly disinterested in tackling the looming ecological challenges facing the country in particular in regards to the rapidly expanding mining sector.  Eight months later Baghdasaryan had discovered that the Minister of the Environment had been very busy awarding exploration licenses to 15 members of his family as well as his office assistants in violation of several statutes.  As a result of these stories a study was begun into the mining industry and changes were made to create a public tender process and competitive bidding. A few months later the Environment Minister lost his job. This story showed the impact that can be made by collecting the documentation and using it in the story".
The international award of the Daniel Pearl award 2008 went to the Swedish reporters from TV4 who investigated the story of the illegal cod trade.
The International consortium of investigative journalists give out the award, which is in the memory of the Wall Street journal journalist Daniel Pearl, who was slain by the Pakistani militants in 2002.
- This would be impossible to do without the help from journalists in other countries, Fredrik Laurin from the investigative team said.
The US award went to Walt Bogdanich and Jake Hooker for the project “A toxic pipeline”.
The special award went to Loretta Tofani for her Salt Lake Tribune Series “American Imports, Chinese Deaths”.