Behrouz Boochani has been reporting from Manus Island. © AI

Media Awards: Spotlight on the 2017 Print/Online Winner

Each year the Amnesty International Australia Media Awards acknowledge those Australian media stories that have presented a fair and balanced report of a human rights issue, highlighted hidden abuses and encouraged an audience’s greater understanding of a human rights issue.

With a week left before entries close for this year’s 2021 awards, we’re celebrating winners from previous years’ to demonstrate the importance of a free press.

Media Awards’ 2017 Print/Online Winner

Winner of the 2017 Amnesty International Media Awards Print/Online category was Behrouz Boochani with ‘Voice of Manus’ for The Guardian & The Saturday Paper.

In ‘Voice of Manus’ Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian Kurdish journalist and refugee who was detained on Manus Island from 2013-2017, writes of his experience on Manus following the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruling that the detention of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island was illegal, and in breach of the country’s constitution.

Behrouz writes about the small extension of liberties which allowed him to visit islands around Manus to escape rising tensions in the detention centre, particularly about exploring the island of Mendirlin.

“Mendirlin is the size of a soccer field and covered in dense jungle. Its economy is dependent on nature. Rubbin Malachi and his family of 35 people live there. Rubbin is a strong, muscular man with a heart of gold.”

Behrouz Boochani

Behrouz’s piece allowed Australian readers an insight into the conditions refugees and asylum seekers were subject to on Manus Island, particularly during a period in which Australian media outlets had limited access to exposing conditions on Manus. The work of journalists like Behrouz are particularly important for holding governments to account, and ensuring important reporting continues despite difficult media conditions.

Judge of this years’ Print/Online category for the 2021 Media Awards, Lisa Davies says of press freedom:

Journalism often involves revealing information powerful people don’t want you to know, yet obtaining those stories, securing the confidence of those who can bring them to light, has become increasingly difficult. Successive federal governments have been tightening laws on what information is shared with the public over the last 20 years. It may not have stopped the investigative work of Kate McClymont, Nick McKenzie or Adele Ferguson, but for every story they can publish, there are others simply not getting out there.

Lisa Davies, Editor, Sydney Morning Herald