Outstanding human rights journalism from the Amnesty Media Awards 2022

The Amnesty Media Awards 2022 is championing human rights journalism by reporters, editors and citizens telling crucial stories about justice. We have selected five stories by seasoned journalists and newcomers across the documentaries, digital media, and written news categories. In uncertain times, these stories expose injustice and celebrate solidarity and resistance.

A full list of finalists can be found here. The winners of the 2022 year’s awards will be announced in a ceremony starting at 7pm on Wednesday 4 May and can be viewed live here.

“In the most invisible way, activism in Russia is suppressed.” “To be a politician in Russia you have to be prepared to lose everything and sacrifice your life.”

Fearless: The women fighting Putin (Exposure, ITV)

Documentaries category – finalist

This documentary follows the story of three young women in Russia as they take a stand against President Putin. The film takes a similar (if less glamorous and victorious) approach to Netflix documentary Knock Down The House, which followed four female progressive Democrats who ran in the 2018 US midterm elections. Here, the stakes are high. Fighting for a free Russia in three very different ways, the women form their opposition as political candidates and activists. The beauty of this 75-minute documentary is in moments of sheer joy and defiance, including the elation of securing a place on a ballot and an unapologetic mission to get a manicure before being arrested. The successes in this story are hard won, and the women make incredible sacrifices in their fight. The documentary follows the story of Lusya Stein, the last member of Pussy Riot to remain in Russia, Iryna Fatyanova, who campaigns to represent citizens in St Petersburg, and Violetta Grudina, whose bid to stand for election in Murmansk sees her detained using new Covid restrictions before she desperately resorts to a hunger strike. Filmed, produced and directed by Sarah Collinson, this story displays the strength of sisterhood and solidarity as well as the agony of oppression.

Watch here.

Find out more about Pussy Riot in one of our earliest stories by Marc Bennetts, author of Kicking the Kremlin.


“I want people to know the truth. Until this day it’s still hidden. The truth is locked away. We need to rip it open.”

Undercover in Africa’s Secret State (Dispatches, Channel 4)

Documentaries category – finalist

Citizens take extraordinary risks to obtain footage for this documentary, filming life under one of the world’s most secretive and repressive regimes. The investigation, started in 2016, shows rare footage from inside state prisons in Eritrea, a one-party state, with no elections and no free press. Since the country gained independence from Ethiopia two decades ago, more than half a million Eritreans (around a sixth of the population) have fled, many running from mandatory national service which can go on for years with no limit. Citizens describe military service that consists of forced labour on farms. Those who refuse or try to escape report being detained without trial, with some being physically restrained, interrogated and tortured.

The story of young Eritrean Hanna Petros Solomon, who risked her life twice to escape the country, is particularly compelling. Hanna’s mother and father, the former minister of defence, were both disappeared.

The Eritrean government, which refused to take part in the documentary, denies all claims. The documentary is produced, directed and reported by Evan Williams who won a Bafta for the 2019 documentary Myanmar’s Killing Fields.

Watch here.

Find out more about the lives of Eritrean people living in refugee camps across the border in Ethiopia in this story by Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi.


Channel migrants tragedy: Terrifying final hours of their fatal journey – BBC World Service

Best Use of Digital Media – finalist

In this striking piece of multimedia journalism, the visual and data journalism team piece together what happened on 24 November 2021 when 30 people died trying to cross the English Channel. With interactive maps, voice notes from loved ones and images of the deceased, this story documents the timeline of 32 people who boarded a boat designed to carry only 20. On board were teenagers, mothers, sisters, wives and brothers all in desperate pursuit of a better life. The story brings out very personal and intimate accounts of the victims and survivors allowing readers to feel a unique connection to a story often told in statistics. One father desperate to make his daughter’s dreams of living a better life in England come true borrowed money to raise $42,000 for her to board the boat. For the BBC, Claire Press, Emir Nader and Lucy Rodgers report the story of what is considered the worst migrant mass drowning ever recorded in the English Channel.

Find the full story here

Find out more about what 270 migrant and refugee interviews reveal about Europe’s approach to migration trying to cross the Mediterranean in this story by Dallal Stevens.


Countdown to the airstrike: the moment Israeli forces hit al-Jalaa tower, Gaza – The Guardian

Best Use of Digital Media – finalist

What do you do if you are told to evacuate the only home you have ever known 60 minutes before it is destroyed by an airstrike? Reporters Kaamil Ahmed, Joe Dyke and Anas Babba document this reality for the families that lived in the al-Jalaa Tower in the city of Hamas, Gaza, which was hit by an airstrike on 15 May 2021. This building was also home to the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. This multimedia piece of journalism recounts the events with vivid imagery, audio, WhatsApp messages and video footage. Family members give first-hand accounts of evacuating the building and watching their beloved home diminished to nothing but dust and rubble. One video shows how a resident tries to negotiate with Israeli soldiers for just 10 minutes more but is refused. This story examines the impact of conflict on the lives of innocent citizens who bear the burden of loss and grief as the reader journeys with them.

Find the full story here

Find out more about life in Palestine in this memoir by Salma Eleyan which shares her journey and search for a new home.


In Spain’s strawberry fields, migrant women face sexual abuse – Al Jazeera

Written News – finalist

On farms in Spain, sweet, red strawberries are grown. But this investigation finds hardship and suffering among the Moroccan and Romanian women who harvest the fruits. Women working in Huelva, Europe’s biggest red fruit producing region, recount examples of sexual abuse in an article published on 10 July 2021. Al Jazeera, in collaboration with Danish investigative media outlet Danwatch, interviewed 16 female farm workers, all of whom had contracts with the seven largest red fruit producers who sell to well-known supermarkets in the UK and across Europe. Most of the workers recounted daily humiliations, such as penalties for taking toilet breaks, union busting and little or no protection against Covid-19. Through the personal accounts of three women, the story sheds light on how a bilateral agreement between Morocco and Spain restricts the freedoms of the women who are isolated and reliant on temporary work visas, leaving them dependent on their employers. One worker who, after two weeks in the fields, suffered a miscarriage, asked her supervisor to be taken to the doctor, but was told she would have to pay €20 for the gas. Another died three days after being interviewed, when a fire engulfed the informal camp she was living in. These stories are brought to light by journalists Nikolaj Houmann Mortensen and Stefania Prandi.

Find the full story here.

Find out more about the women who risk their lives crossing Ceuta’s Spain-Morocco border for less than €20 written and filmed by Fernando del Berro.

A full list of finalists can be found here. The winners of the 2022 year’s awards will be announced in a ceremony starting at 7pm on Wednesday 4 May and can be viewed live here.

Main image from the film For Sama, which won the documentary prize in the 2020 Amnesty Media Awards.

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