Amnesty International UK Media Awards

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The Amnesty International Media Awards are a unique set of awards which pay tribute to the best human rights journalism in the UK. Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s director, said that the awards recognise the “pivotal role of the UK media industry in informing and shaping public opinion” and pays tribute to their “often dangerous work”. The awards acknowledge the creativity, skills and sheer determination that it takes to get the news out in an educational and engaging way.

In particular, these awards highlight the unique relationship that exists between Amnesty International and the media. Sir Trevor McDonald explained the inextricably linked nature of this relationship: "Amnesty persists where journalism leaves off. We visit these scenes and then move on. Amnesty has the virtue of sticking with the story and making sure the truth comes out."[3]

The most recent awards ceremony was held on 26 November 2015 at the Barbican in central London. The shortlist and the winners are available below.


Amnesty International has always championed the importance of media in exposing human rights abuses. Amnesty itself began as a media story. In 1961, Peter Benenson, the founder of Amnesty, was so enraged that two Portuguese students were jailed for seven years for toasting to freedom during the autocratic regime of António de Oliveira Salazar, that he wrote a letter to the Observer.

His ‘Appeal for Amnesty’ letter called for the release of six political prisoners from around the world. It began: “Open your newspapers - any day of the week – and you will find a report from somewhere in the world of someone being imprisoned, tortured or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government. The newspaper readers feel a sickening sense of impotence. Yet if these feelings of disgust all over the world could be united into common action, something effective could be done”

Amnesty began with a sentiment expressed through the media and to celebrate the unique relationship Amnesty shares with the media industry, the Amnesty International UK Media Awards were launched in 1992.

Purpose of the awards

Amnesty believes that by recognising excellence in human rights journalism, journalists and commissioners will be encouraged to increase the quality and quantity of their human rights coverage. Good quality media coverage is important as highlighted by Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese pro-democracy leader, at the 2011 awards ceremony because it is “through the media that the rest of the world gets to hear about what we have to undergo”.[53]

In addition to honouring journalists, Lindsey Hilsum, the Channel 4 News International Editor who was the host of the 2014 awards, emphasises that the Amnesty Awards play a very important role in encouraging editors to allow journalists to cover more obscure stories that are far away and expensive. She said that when: “you point out that you won an Amnesty Award for a similar story a couple of years ago. It makes editors think that they will get some sort of kudos from this, and that it matters within the industry. So I think it’s tremendously important and I think Amnesty is doing a tremendous job by giving us these awards so that we can use them to say: ‘Yes, we’ve got to carry on reporting human rights, it really matters’."[54]

However, more specifically as pointed out by Amy Mackinnon , 2012 winner of the student award and a current journalist: "The Amnesty International UK awards are a heartening reminder that, in the right hands, journalism can be a potent force for good."[50]



Categories for the 2013 awards are:

  • TV News
  • Digital
  • Features
  • Photojournalism
  • National Newspapers
  • Radio
  • Nations & Regions
  • Gaby Rado Memorial Award
  • Documentaries
  • Student Human Rights Reporter

Gaby Rado Memorial Award

The Gaby Rado Memorial Award, first awarded in May 2004, recognizes a journalist who has been covering national or international human rights stories in broadcast or print media for less than five years.[1][2]

The award was established with the help of the family, friends and colleagues of the journalist Gaby Rado, who was found dead in Iraq in 2003. He had been the recipient of three Amnesty Media Awards: in 1996 for a series of reports on Bosnia/Srebrenica, 1998 for coverage of the Muslim minority Uighurs in north-western China and 2002 for his "moving account of the human cost of the atrocities committed in the Balkan Wars".[3]

Student Human Rights Reporter Award

The Student Human Rights Reporter Award was started in 2010 and first awarded in 2011. Initially the award was run with The NUS (National Union of Students) and The Mirror newspaper. The Award is now run in conjunction with the NUS, and The Observer.

The award is open to students in further and higher education, with the prize allowing them to work with sponsors to develop real-world reporting and writing experience for two weeks.

Entry criteria

Each year there is a call for submissions focusing on the areas of human rights work encompassed by Amnesty's mission, which is "to protect individuals wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied".[4][5][6]

Entries must have been originally published or broadcast in the year preceding the closing deadline. There is an entry fee to help Amnesty cover the cost of administering the awards. The full criteria is available in the Media Awards section of the Amnesty International UK website,[7] and are detailed on the entry form sent out each year around four months before the ceremony.

The ceremony

The ceremony is held annually in central London and is attended by around 400 guests, including politicians, celebrities, and prominent figures in the UK media industry. The host, usually a high profile member of the UK media, conducts the ceremony and the various awards are presented by representatives from each of the judging panels. Past hosts have included journalist and broadcaster Nick Clarke, journalist and news reader Moira Stuart, international editor of Channel 4 News Lindsey Hilsum and BBCs Lyse Doucet. The host for the 2015 awards was the British radio and television presenter and journalist Anita Anand. Celebrity guests presenting awards have included Bob Geldof, who presented the Special Award for "Human Rights Journalism Under Threat" 2004,[104] won by Kifle Mulat, head of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association.[105]

Winners 2015

Category Winners
TV News Inside Yarl’s Wood: Britain’s most notorious detention centre (Jackie Long, Channel 4 News)
Digital The Counted (The Guardian)
Features The boys who could see England (Anders Fjellberg & Tomm W. Christiansen, Dagbladet/New Statesman)
Photojournalism Tommy Trenchard: Ebola in West Africa
National Newspapers I'm afraid of the sea but I'll do anything to get out (Christina Lamb, Sunday Times)
Radio Red River Women (BBC Radio Current Affairs for BBC World Service)
Nations & Regions A Woman Alone with the IRA (Spotlight, BBC Northern Ireland)
Gaby Rado Gabriella Jozwiak, Freelance
Documentaries Escape from ISIS (Dispatches, Channel 4)
Student Jonathan Lawrence, Child prostitution in Zarqa: a city paralysed by the mafia

The shortlist for the 2015 awards were:


The Shortlist

Digital Innovation

1. Schooled in Britain, deported to danger: UK sends 600 former child asylum seekers back to Afghanistan (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism)

2. Syrian Journey (BBC World Service)

3. The Counted (The Guardian)


1. Nigeria’s hidden war (Dispatches, Channel 4)

2. 3 ½ Minutes (Marc Silver)

3. Escape from ISIS (Dispatches, Channel 4)


1. The boys who could see England (Anders Fjellberg & Tomm W. Christiansen, Dagbladet/New Statesman)

2. I carried his name on my body for nine years (Annie Kelly, Observer Magazine)

3. The Hidden and the Hunted (Jonathan Heaf, GQ Magazine)

Gaby Radio Memorial Award

1. Rob Hastings, The Independent

2. Gabriella Jozwiak, Freelance

3. Maeve McClenaghan, Freelance

Nations & Regions

1. Poison blood killed my son (Emma Youle, Archant Newspapers)

2. DR Congo: The Children Who Don’t Exist (Paul O’Hare, Daily Record)

3. A Woman Alone with the IRA (Spotlight, BBC Northern Ireland)

National Newspapers

1. I’m afraid of the sea but I’ll do anything to get out (Christina Lamb, Sunday Times)

2. Revealed: how the world turned its back on rape victims of Congo (Mark Townsend, The Observer)

3. Tragedy in Gaza (Kim Sengupta, The Independent)


1. Kai Wiedenhofer: The Forgotten Casualties

2. Tommy Trenchard: Ebola in West Africa

3. Aaron Huey:’Mitakuye Oyasin’


1. Red River Women (BBC Radio Current Affairs for BBC World Service)

2. Surviving The Most Lethal Route In The World (BBC World Service)

3. Saving Gaza’s Grand Piano (BBC World Service

Student Human Rights Reporter Award

The Student Award shortlist will be announced on Friday 16 October.

TV News

1. Libyan Smugglers (Quentin Sommerville, BBC News)

2. Inside Yarl’s Wood: Britain’s most notorious detention centre (Jackie Long, Channel 4 News)

3. Tracking down Macedonia’s migrant kidnap gang (Ramita Navai, Channel 4 News)

Previous Winners

The winners of awards have varied from major news corporations to little known individuals who through their work have brought unknown and unrecognised human rights issues before the world media.

The winners are chosen by a panel of judges. The judges selected are a diverse group of experts in the media, arts and entertainment industries. Some of the judges for the 2015 awards include BBC contributing editor Bridget Kendall, BuzzFeed political reporter Siraj Datoo, Gurdian journalist Gary Younge, editor of the Sunday Telegraph Sarah Sands, ITV News lead anchor Nina Hossain, and BBC presenter Naga Munchetty to name a few. Amnesty International senior staff also take part in the judging process but have no final vote over the choice of winners.

Awards may also be made posthumously, such as the 2012 award to Marie Colvin for her coverage of Syria where she was killed whilst covering the siege of Homs.

The winners of 2014 were:

Winners of the 2014 Amnesty International Media Awards UK





Digital Innovation

The shirt on your Back: the Human Cost of the Bangladeshi Garment Industry

The Guardian

Lindsay Poulton & Jason Burke


Who is Dayani Cristal

Pulse Films

Mark Silver and Gael Garcia Berna

Gaby Radio Memorial Award

Dispatches: Children on the Frontline and Unreported World: Dancing in the Danger Zone

Channel 4

Marcel Mettelsienfen

Magazines: Consumer

Hell is Other People


Ed Caesar

Magazines: Supplements

Displaced Persons Series

The Sunday Times Magazine

AA Gill

Nations & Regions

Colombia – Caught in the Crossfire

Daily Record

Paul O’hare

National Newspapers

Revealed: Qatar’s World Cup ‘Slaves’

The Guardian

Pete Pattisson


Descent into Hell: Bloodshed in the Central African Republic

Telegraph Magazine

Marcus Bleasdale


Escape from Sinai

BBC Radio 4 / BBC World Service

Mike Thompson

Student Human Rights Reporter Award

Investigation: detainee harassment at Campsfield House

The Oxford Student Paper

Redmond Traynor

TV News

Bucharest’s King of the Sewers

Channel 4 News

Paraic O’Brien


  1. "Gaby Rado Award". Amnesty International UK (AIUK). 2004. Archived from the original on 17 August 2004. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  2. Byrne, Ciar (27 May 2003). "Amnesty creates award in honour of Rado". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 January 2013. 
  3. "Tribute to Gaby Rado 17 January 1955–30 March 2003". Amnesty International UK (AIUK). 2003. Archived from the original on 22 June 2004. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  4. "Amnesty International magazine". Archived from the original on 8 January 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  5. "Walker Books and Amnesty International". Walker Books. Archived from the original on 8 January 2013. 
  6. "Our Work". Amnesty International UK (AIUK). Archived from the original on 8 January 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  7. "Time To Enter". Amnesty International UK (AIUK). 2013. Archived from the original on 9 January 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 

External links