Gambian investigative journalism outfit, Malagen, has won the African Prize for Investigative Journalism (PAJI) 2023. The award was conferred Wednesday at a ceremony held in Dakar, Senegal.
This year being the second edition, the PAJI awards is co-organised by Franco-African platform of journalists Media & Democracy (M&D) and Center for the Study of Information Science and Technology (CESTI).
The competition has three levels with Gold being the highest, followed by Silver and Bronze for each of the categories: online, radio, TV, and print. Malagen’s Mustapha K Darboe, who is the back-to-back winner of the Best Journalist Award in The Gambia, has walked away with the Gold Prize for the online category.
The story that has won the prestigious award for Malagen is ‘Profiting from rebellion: inside blood timber traffickers network in Gambia’, a cross-border investigative reporting published in April last year.
The story exposes how timber traffickers and politically connected Gambian business people connive with authorities in the government to engage in illicit trade in rosewood, or ‘blood timber’, a vital source of revenue for rebels in the conflict-ridden Casamance region of Senegal.
The impact was significant as the UN treaty body responsible for the protection of endangered plants and animals, CITES, had in June last year (two months after our publication) announced a suspension of Gambia’s licence for commercial trade in rosewood.
“This is a massive victory for journalism in the Gambia, and our efforts at Malagen to promote democracy and development through accountability and public interest journalism,” said Mr Darboe. “I dedicate this to our hardworking team.”
The story was selected by an international jury composed overwhelmingly of African journalists.
According to the organisers, the intent of the award is to “encourage investigative journalism in Africa and to highlight the quality work carried out by a large number of African media professionals”.