(Bangkok) – The Foreign Correspondents Clubs of Thailand and Taiwan have joined Human Rights Watch and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University to administer the Human Rights Press Awards for reporting in Asia, the groups announced today. The awards will also have a new category to recognize the best reporting by “Newsrooms in Exile.”
The expanded partnership and the new category reflect the increasing challenges and new realities of reporting on human rights in Asia, where a growing number of journalists are no longer able to work safely in their home countries.
“We created the ‘Newsrooms in Exile’ category to recognize the many brave journalists who have carried on reporting about human rights in their countries from afar, because it was no longer safe for them to do at home,” said Tirana Hassan, executive director at Human Rights Watch. “Their role in exposing the truth is more critical than ever.”
The Human Rights Press Awards have a long and distinguished history of recognizing outstanding reporting on human rights issues in Asia. They were previously administered by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong. But after the Chinese government imposed a national security law in Hong Kong in June 2020, which led to the closure of at least nine media outlets there, the awards were put on hold.
Human Rights Watch and Arizona State University assumed responsibility for the awards in 2022, and the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents’ Club (TFCC) and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) joined to jointly administer the awards for 2023.
“Our expanded coalition of partners helps move us farther down the path of making the Human Rights Press Awards the preeminent honor for outstanding human rights reporting in the world,” said Battinto L. Batts Jr. the Cronkite School dean. “The Cronkite School is proud to play a key role in this important effort.”
The Human Rights Press Awards aim to increase respect for people’s basic rights and to focus attention on threats to those freedoms. They receive hundreds of entries every year from across Asia. In past years, there were 16 categories. However, for 2024, the administrators have streamlined the number of categories for a total of seven, including the “Newsrooms in Exile” category.
Previous winners include the Philippine journalist and Nobel Prize winner Maria Ressa, and the Malaysian-born Los Angeles Times photojournalist Marcus Yam, winner of Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography.
“Thailand is the frontline for brave Burmese journalists forced to flee into exile to escape repression by the Myanmar military junta after the coup of February 2021, so it is quite fitting that the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand act to recognize their tremendous work through these awards,” said Lisa Martin, the FCCT president. “As the oldest press club operating in Southeast Asia, the FCCT is proud to join this important coalition to honor journalists across Asia who take great risks to report important human rights stories.”
Both Foreign Correspondent Clubs have become homes for a growing number of journalists in exile. “Taiwan has evolved into an important hub for journalists covering the Chinese-speaking world and the East Asia region. Because of the freedom, safety, and location, Taiwan provides a shelter for a lot of China correspondents as well as a base for those who cover different parts of Asia,” said Thompson Chau, the TFCC president. “We are proud to join forces with our esteemed partners to host the Human Rights Press Awards in 2023. The new category – ‘Newsrooms in Exile’ – says so much about the current state of journalism in Asia, as many reporters and media outlets focusing on China, Hong Kong, Myanmar, and elsewhere are forced to do their job abroad.”
The 2024 winners will be announced on May 3, 2024, on World Press Freedom Day.
Entries can be submitted online at https://cronkite.submittable.com/submit/281186/human-rights-press-awards-2024.