Nepalis win two investigative journalism awards
Two Nepali reporters are winners in top investigative journalism awards announced on 2 March, and have been recognised for their exposés of injustice.
Namrata Sharma was awarded for her collaborative investigation with Luc Caregari from Reporter.lu and Finance Uncovered, of the human trafficking of Nepali workers by Nepali-owned restaurants in Luxembourg.
Bhrikuti Rai’s investigative report exposed illegal sand-mining in Nepal and the murder of environmental activist Dilip Mahato three years ago. She got the Fetisov Journalism Award 2021 in the category Excellence in Environmental Reporting.
Namrata Sharma is the former Chair of the Centre for Investigative Journalism Nepal (CIJ-N), while Bhrikuti Rai reported for Nepali Times and The Kathmandu Post. Both the award-winning investigative reports had been carried in Nepali Times in 2021.
Sharma’s investigation built on a previous story involving human trafficking and modern slavery in the Nepali restaurant trade in Finland. She used her extensive contacts in the South Asian migrant community across Europe to expose the crime in her collaborative story ‘Nepalis exploited by Nepalis in Luxembourg’.
Workers at a popular Nepali restaurant in the Grand Duchy told her of serial beatings and other human rights abuses by the owner. The workers themselves had been trafficked from Nepal, and lured after paying money to the owners for their work permits.
Although initially fearful of speaking out, the workers told Sharma about how they were barred from going out, their passports were confiscated, and their bank accounts controlled. The owners withdrew their employees’ wages, and made them work for free for a year.
Sharma is working with other European whistleblowers on cross-border investigations of abuse and human trafficking by other Nepalis.
Bhrikuti Rai’s story, ‘Drawing a line in the sand’, was published in Nepali Times last year and used the first anniversary of the murder by the sand mafia of activist Dilip Mahato to show how illegal sand-mining continued unabated and his family still sought justice for the crime.
Winners in other categories include Corinne Redfern and Ali Ahsan for their joint Italy-Bangladesh investigation of sex trafficking, an expose of how the caste system persists in India’s prison system by Sukanya Shantha of The Wire website, and an international investigation of the Asian connection of the Mexican drug cartels.
Finance Uncovered is an international investigative journalism training organisation that aims to improve the quantity and quality of investigative stories that are rooted in illicit finance or exploitation. The Fetisov Journalism Award was founded by Gleb Fetisov, a businessman, producer, scientist and philanthropist.