OCCRP Investigations Named Global Shining Light Award Finalists

Published: 19 July 2017

Global Shining Light Award2015 Global Shining Light Awards, Drew Sullivan (left), Miranda Patrucic (middle) and Stevan Dojcinovic accepting their award. (Photo:OCCRP)

By Stella Roque

The Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) included two OCCRP investigations as finalists for the bi-annual Global Shining Light Award, a prize honouring “investigative journalism in developing or transitioning countries, done under threat, duress or under dire conditions.”  

Making A Killing, an investigation by Balkan Insight and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), and The Khadija Project by OCCRP and several other partners were among the twelve finalists named by an international panel of judges who selected them out of 211 projects, submitted by journalists in 67 countries.

Making A Killing exposed the EUR 1.2 billion arms pipeline from Central and Eastern Europe to the Middle East. GIJN highlighted the story’s impact. “After the story was published, the European Union announced it would monitor the flow of weapons and several countries reviewed their policies,” wrote GIJN.

Reporters on the project faced closed doors, surveillance by intelligence agencies and media attacks, according to OCCRP investigative reporter and editor Miranda Patrucic.  

The Khadija Project, spearheaded by OCCRP, continued the work of then-imprisoned OCCRP partner RFE/RL reporter Khadija Ismayilova. Ismayilova was released from prison in May 2016 but is not permitted to leave the country. The project uncovered corruption at the highest-levels in Azerbaijan exposing the ruling Aliyev family’s vast fortune with stories of bribery and unbridled spending.

“Azerbaijani reporters contributed to the stories anonymously for fear of imprisonment,” said Patrucic. “They wrote under the name of Ismayilova. This project was a way to honour her and keep her work going even as the government tried to silence her.”

OCCRP network member the Center for Investigative Reporting Serbia (CINS) was also named a finalist for their project ‘Corruption and Organized Crime’ using a series of Freedom of Information requests to show how Serbia’s fight against organized crime and corruption was shallow at best. The data the team gathered revealed that corruption prosecutions were mainly aimed low-level public officials, dragged on for years and often resulted in suspended sentences.

“We’re proud of our reporters, editors and partners named finalists to the Global Shining Light Award,” said OCCRP editor and co-founder Drew Sullivan. “It’s testament to the courage of OCCRP network reporters who are always pushing boundaries, defying those who try to silence them and, above all, supporting each other.”

GIJN, an association of 155 nonprofit organizations in 68 countries, sponsors the award. The winners will be announced at the 2017 Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Johannesburg, from November 16-19. They will be presented with an honorary plaque and US $ 2,000.  OCCRP has won four previous prizes and has been a multiple finalist twice.

Read about all twelve Global Shining Light Award finalists here.