JHR Award for Achievement in Human Rights Reporting
Journalists for Human Rights celebrates journalists who have made a significant contribution to human rights journalism.
JHR defines human rights journalism as coverage that directs attention to key human rights issues, in a way that triggers significant positive impact.
The finalists for the 2018 JHR Award for Achievement in Human Rights Reporting are, in no particular order:
Anne Mehler Paperny – Thomson Reuters
Anna Mehler Paperny has been nominated for her dogged reporting for Reuters on Canadian justice and immigration. Her exclusive investigation into Ontario’s bail system, published in October 2017, found dramatic racial disparities in the lengths of time people spend behind bars awaiting trial. In short, Mehler Paperny’s reporting showed that black people in Ontario spend more time behind bars awaiting trial than white people charged with the same crimes.
Jayme Poisson and David Bruser – The Toronto Star
Jayme Poisson and David Bruser have been nominated for their investigation looking at mercury contamination in the Grassy Narrows First Nation. While the story of mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows was first reported in the 1960s and 1970s when a pulp and paper mill dumped 10 tonnes of the neurotoxin into the English River, it wasn’t until Jayme Poisson and David Bruser began their investigation in the spring of 2016 that the story gained traction. In January 2017, they traveled to Grassy Narrows where they dug holes on the mill property uncovering hard evidence. This eventually led to the provincial government announce a historic $85 million river clean-up and the federal government announcing it will help build a new $5 million care home for those suffering from mercury poisoning.
Brendan Kennedy – The Toronto Star
Brendan Kennedy has been nominated for his relentless reporting on immigration detention. He has not only shed important light on a system that exists in the shadows, but has also led to tangible change. Kennedy’s initial, wide-ranging investigation into immigration detention in Canada, published in March 2017, exposed the injustices of a system that keeps non-citizens indefinitely locked up in conditions meant for a criminal population. In all the stories he tells, Kennedy has given voice to people who have been ignored or actively silenced by Canada’s immigration and justice systems. His work exposed institutional indifference and forced governments to account.
Paula Simons – The Edmonton Journal
Paula Simons has been nominated for her investigation and reporting of the life and death of Serenity, a four-year-old Cree child who died after suffering horrific abuse while in “kinship” foster care in late 2016. Simons not only reported on the initial incident, but went above and beyond to create a relationship of trust with Serenity’s mother and continued to push authorities to investigate the circumstances of the little girl’s death. Over the course of 2017, the story evolved to be less about politics and more about the courageous efforts of Serenity’s mother to hold the police and the Crown to account. With sensitivity and respect, Simons gave voice and agency to this young First Nations woman, as she documented the mother’s fight to get justice for her lost chioice. In October 2017, a charge was finally laid against Serenity’s two legal guardians.
The award will be presented to the winner on October 1 at Night for Rights.
In 2017, JHR recognized Sara Mojtehedzadeh of the Toronto Star. Sara won for her powerful and tenacious reporting on workers' rights in Ontario, which changed legislation to ensure fairer outcomes for workers and stronger oversight for laws governing temp workers' rights in particular.
Criteria: the award is for achievement in human rights reporting. The individual or team nominated must have played a key role ensuring
that human rights are front and centre of coverage;
that those who have historically been left out of important public conversations about issues that affect them are able to take their place and make their voices heard
that positive change has happened as a result of that work.
Previous winners include Christiane Amanpour of CNN (2015); Paul Barnsley of APTN (2016).