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19th Human Rights Press Awards presented

This is the 19th year that the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong, Amnesty International Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Journalists Association have joined to recognize outstanding reporting in the area of human rights. The full winners’ list is here.

The Human Rights Press Awards were the first such honors in Asia and have achieved international recognition as among the more prestigious professional awards that a journalist or news organization can achieve. This is due in no small part to the participation of distinguished judges drawn from the top rungs of journalism, photography, law, human rights and academia.

The competition is open to Hong Kong and Macau-based journalists, as well as foreign correspondents working in Asia. All entries were aired or published in calendar year 2014.

This year, the organizing committee is proud to have had Ming Pao journalist Kevin Lau Chun-to as its Distinguished Guest Speaker. Mr Lau, COO of Medianet Resources Ltd., spoke on why “Now is the worst time – and best time – to be a journalist in Hong Kong.”

On February 26, 2014, Mr. Lau, who had served as editor of the Ming Pao newspaper, was attacked on the streets of Hong Kong by knife-wielding assailants and nearly lost his life. At the time of the assault, he had been at the center of a press-freedom controversy following his removal from the paper’s editorship, which he had held for only two years. During his editorship Ming Pao conducted investigations into politically sensitive areas, including Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying. It also joined an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists into offshore bank accounts held by members of the Chinese elite. After the stabbing attack, thousands of local and overseas journalists marched to show their support for him and their concern about the growing pressures on press freedom in Hong Kong.

For the 2014 Awards, there was a total of 371 entries. There were 125 English entries, 146 Chinese entries and 100 Photography entries. All material were published or aired during the 2014 calendar year. (In 2013, there were 474 entries, 79 in English, 240 in Chinese and 155 in Photography). The judges felt the entries were of high quality overall and more tightly focused on rights-related issues.

Thanks to an anonymous donor, the HRPA were capable of giving cash prizes for the first time this year. The top five Grand Prizes received HKD 5,000 each.

In total, five Awards and eight Merit Certificates were given in English-language categories. In the Chinese-language categories there were five Awards and 10 Merit Certificates. For Photography, there were three Awards and 11 Merit Certificates. The honors were distributed during an Awards Presentation Ceremony held on Saturday, May 9, 2014, at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. In all there were 13 prizes and 29 Merit Certificates.

This year there were two new additional awards for students. In our first Student Human Rights Press Awards, three cash prizes of HKD3,000 were awarded, two in English and one in Chinese. The winner of the Special Essay Award received an expenses-paid trip to Italy and an opportunity to work as a journalist at a film festival.

The stories entered in the Human Rights Press Awards covered issues not only in Hong Kong but ranging across the entire Asian and South Asian regions. All Human Rights Press Awards are given to the individual journalists, except in the category of Commentary & Analysis, where an organization may enter itself.

More than 1,700 journalists and news organizations from around the world have competed in the Human Rights Press Awards since their inception.