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(Bangkok) – Reporting on the fifth wave of Covid that engulfed Hong Kong, the Myanmar military’s abuses against the Rohingya, and human trafficking of African students by Taiwanese universities are among the winners of the 2023 Human Rights Press Awards, Human Rights Watch said today. The awards are administered by Human Rights Watch and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

The awards, for outstanding reporting on human rights issues across Asia, were announced on World Press Freedom Day, which falls on May 3 every year. They were previously administered by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong, but Human Rights Watch and Arizona State University assumed responsibility for the awards after the Chinese government’s imposition of a draconian national security law in Hong Kong in June 2020 which led to the closure of at least nine media outlets there.

“These awards recognize the journalists who are shedding light on some of the most critical issues of our time in Asia,” said Tirana Hassan, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “This kind of journalism, often undertaken in extraordinarily difficult conditions, is essential to exposing human rights abuses and we are thrilled to honor these courageous reporters.”

The 16 categories of awards – ranging from breaking news to commentary, and including writing, photography, video, audio, and multimedia – drew 406 submissions across 33 countries. The entries, for reporting published in Chinese or English during 2022, were evaluated by a distinguished panel of journalists, editors and human rights experts.

“This year’s awardees are now part of a proud tradition of outstanding human rights reporting in Asia – a tradition we intend to expand to other regions in the coming years to recognize such impressive and impactful human rights journalism from around the globe,” said Battinto L. Batts, Jr., Ph.D., dean of the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

2023 Human Rights Press Awards © Human Rights Watch/Arizona State University

Reuters news agency took the top prize for investigative reporting in English for its work on Myanmar’s military abuses against the Rohingya and democracy activists. The story shed new light on the planning and devastation of the junta’s crackdown, which the team uncovered under tough reporting constraints by leveraging their regional knowledge and contacts.

The award for investigative reporting in Chinese went to The Reporter, a nonprofit outlet in Taiwan, for its reportage on human trafficking of African students by Taiwanese universities. The journalists uncovered a criminal network that led to the Taiwanese government pressing charges against the offenders. With multiple in-depth interviews, the reporters put a human face on this issue. Some of the students affected were ultimately able to resume the pursuit of their education.

The British newspaper The Guardian took top prize for documentary in English for “The Great Abandonment: the extraordinary exodus of India’s migrant labourers,” featuring how hundreds of thousands of daily wage migrant workers in India ended up walking for days to return to their villages after  the government announced an abrupt lockdown to manage the Covid pandemic.

The top prize for breaking news in Chinese went to Ming Pao, a Hong Kong-based newspaper, for a series (article 1, article 2, article 3, article 4) on how Covid’s fifth wave engulfed Hong Kong last spring. The reporters, at great risk to their own health and safety, embedded themselves in public hospitals that were struggling to treat patients amid a shortage of beds and other resources.

Honorable mentions reporting about Chinese surveillance, Taiwanese aid workers, child laborers in Nepal. No student categories were awarded this year due to insufficient entries. A complete list of winners is available here:

Since the 2022 awards were never announced because of Hong Kong’s national security law, those winners will be announced this year as well. You can find the 2022 winner list here:


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