Rodney Edwards’ investigation into historical child sexual abuse in Fermanagh, for Newsquest title The Impartial Reporter, collected the organisation’s human rights award for Regional Media.
The Impartial Reporter investigation, led by Edwards, into allegations of historical child sexual abuse in Fermanagh, unearthed 70 victims of child sexual abuse perpetrated by scores of alleged abusers. The PSNI has recently arrested 11 people in connection with the cases.
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International UK, said: “Rodney Edwards’ tireless and sensitive investigation of child sexual abuse in Fermanagh is an example of local media at its absolute best — courageous dedication to the truth and utter empathy for victims.
“The fact that his reporting in The Impartial Reporter led to a large-scale police investigation and arrests, shows the power of local journalists as human rights champions.
“At a time when journalists in Northern Ireland continue to live under threat of violence, the work recognised by these awards is a reminder of how important a free and fearless press is for justice.”
Mark Conway Mark Conway, editor of The Impartial Reporter added: “This is fitting recognition for Rodney’s superb work and the journalism of The Impartial Reporter. Rodney led this investigation from the front, he treated the alleged victims with great respect and gave them a voice when previously no-one would listen to them. All at the paper welcomes this recognition and the fight for justice will continue.”
Edwards, who recently left The Impartial Reporter to join the Irish Sunday Independent, said: “Throughout this investigation our aim was to shine a light on a dark past by revealing uncomfortable truths and challenging the social order in County Fermanagh. Journalism is vital to our democracy, but so is listening to people.
“I am very proud of what we achieved at The Impartial Reporter and pay tribute to my former colleagues for their unwavering support and every single victim who came forward to tell their story and allowed us to listen.”
The online ceremony held on September 30, replaced the normal event in central London, the Amnesty Media Awards 2020 and were presented by a number of high profile journalists who were judges involved in this year’s awards, including BBC News’s Tina Daheley, Channel 4 Unreported World presenter Seyi Rhodes, VICE UK’s Zing Tsjeng and BBC News’s Clive Myrie.
Viewers of the ceremony were encouraged to support an Amnesty campaign calling for the release of Khaled Drareni, an Algerian journalist sentenced to two years in prison last month for reporting on an anti-government protest.