Kosovo coverage dominated the shortlisted entries for Amnesty International’s UK 1999 Media Awards at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, hosted by distinguished TV broadcaster Moira Stuart.

But it was a retrospective exposing key policy failures before an earlier human rights outrage, the genocide in Rwanda, which was the overall winner of the 1999 awards – BBC TV Panorama’s When Good Men Do Nothing.
The awards recognise journalistic excellence furthering the understanding and awareness of human rights issues in Britain. Many top journalists have featured in the winning lists in the eight years of this prestigious event.
Pierre SanĂ©, AI’s secretary general, said the fine examples of journalism presented during the ceremony showed the vital role of the UK media in helping AI to expose human rights violations and publicise the cause of human rights across the world.
‘The last year has seen some major advances: most notably in the establishment of an International Criminal Court to try those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and in the arrest of General Pinochet,’ he said. ‘But the reports from Kosovo, from the death cells of the USA, and from Sierra Leone also remind us that it has been an appalling year.’
AI’s media awards do not include a comedy category. But a comedy show,
the Mark Thomas Comedy Product, was singled out for commendation. Thomas and his team went to an arms fair pretending to be a PR company, training governments and military regimes how to put a better public face on human rights abuses. Their services were snapped up by a Kenyan delegate and by the Indonesian armed forces – and the UK armed forces minister wished them luck.

JUDGES: Andy Blackmore, picture editor at
The Independent; Romesh Gunesekera, award winning author; Krishnan Guru Murthy, Channel 4 News presenter; Mark Lattimer, AI communications director; Jenni Murray, BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour presenter; Geoffrey Robertson QC; and Mary Ann Sieghart, political leader writer at The Times.

Winning entries and runners-up are
PRINT: Jonathan Steele for his series ‘Kosovo: Human rights ignored’ in The Guardian. (Also shortlisted were Anton Antonowicz for his series on death row in the USA for The Mirror; Jon Sweeney, ‘In Diana’s footsteps’, in The Observer, and Ros Wynne-Jones for her Sudan article in The Express).
PERIODICALS: Julia Stuart, for Judgement Day in The Mail on Sunday Review. (Shortlisted; Anna Pyasetskaya & Heidi Bradner for ‘The Lost Boys’ in Granta; David Manasian for ‘Human Rights Law Survey’ in The Economist, and Emma Brooker for ‘Scarred by Hate’ in
Marie Claire).
PHOTOJOURNALISM: Andrew Testa for ‘Suffering in Kosovo’ in The Guardian and Observer. (Shortlisted; Dean Chapman, ‘The War the West Forgot’ in The Independent Magazine; David Rose ‘Two Funerals in Kosovo’ in The Independent on Sunday).
TV News: Fergal Keane for his report ‘Sierra Leone’ for BBC News. (Shortlisted; Sue Lloyd-Roberts for ‘Burma: The Opposition’ for BBC News; Mark Urban for ‘War crimes in Kosovo’ for BBC Newsnight; Ian Williams for ‘Malaysia’ for Channel 4 News.)
TV Documentaries: BBC TV: Panorama for ‘When good men do nothing’. (Shortlisted; Channel 4 Television’s ‘The Valley’ produced
by Mentorn Barraclough Carey; and Channel 4 Television’s Dispatches ‘Mission Impossible’ produced by Clark Productions).
Radio: BBC Radio 4: From our Own Correspondent ‘Civilian’ reported by Jeremy Vine. (Shortlisted; BBC Radio 4’s The Choice – Lim Guan Eng and Tim Parr, presented by Michael Buerk, and BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight – ‘Arrest General Pinochet’, presented by Robin Lustig.)

Najam Sethi, the winner of this year’s special award for human rights journalism under threat, was prevented from boarding his plane in Lahore to attend the award ceremony.
A former prisoner of conscience, Najam Sethi is editor of the Pakistani national newspaper The Friday Times. In Pakistan there is a disturbing pattern of intimidation and arbitrary arrest of journalists who criticise the government. In May 1999, Najam was arrested, badly beaten, and held in solitary confinement for three weeks. He was released on 2 June. Journalists believe his arrest was linked to contact with a BBC team investigating corruption in Pakistan.

[ Back to 'Amnesty' contents page ]