Syed Nazakat, senior correspondent of The Week magazine in India, has been nominated for the 2010 Daniel Pearl Awards for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting. Nazakat, a fellow of the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism at the ATeneo, finished the MA Journalism in 2009. Two of Nazakat’s investigative stories, “India’s Secret Torture Chambers” and “Top Secret” interrogation centers have been selected for the nomination.
Two stories highlight human rights issues including the use of illegal detention facilities, referred to as “black sites” by the Indian government, the use of torture, and an extraordinary rendition program against suspected terrorists. On 23 July 2009, Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram told the Indian Parliament that he was looking into The Week’s report on the secret torture chambers. He said: “If there is any evidence that any state police is keeping a secret torture cell, you have my word that we will come down heavily and stop this practice.” The biennial award was created specifically to honor cross-border investigative reporting. It is presented by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a project of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C. This year’s competition attracted 85 entries from 40 countries. Formerly the ICIJ Award, the Pearl prize was renamed in 2008 after Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was slain by Pakistani militants in 2002.
Nazakat joins six other finalists from Sweden, Argentina, UK and the US. Among them two entries – one American, one international – will be announced as winners on April 24 at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Past ICIJ award winners have reported about abuses faced by immigrants in American workplaces; the involvement of Sweden in the CIA secret renditions program; and allegations of sexual exploration of Congolese women and children by United Nations peacekeepers, among other issues of world importance. Fredrik Laurin of TV4Sweden, Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker, and Steve Bradshaw and Mike Robinson of BBC News Panorama have received the award in recent years.
A panel of five international judges selected the seven finalists, among them Sheila Coronel, director, Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, Columbia University and former executive director, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism; David E. Kaplan, director, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists; former chief investigative correspondent, U.S. News and World Report and nRon Nixon reporter, The New York Times, Washington bureau; former training director for the U.S.-based Investigative Reporters and Editors.