FJA 2020 Shortlist

Category: Excellence in Environmental Journalism

Cécile Schilis-Gallego, Marion Guegan (France)

Mines’ Dirty Secrets Echo on Three Continents

Forbidden Stories

June 8, 2019

The “Green Blood” series pursued the investigations of several reporters who faced threats when covering possible environmental damage and other abuses by mining companies. Reporting on environmental issues can cost journalists their jobs, the land they live on and even their lives. The more journalists cover these issues aggressively, the more they are provoking powerful interests that will retaliate and block access to information. This is particularly true of the mining industry. For the first time, 40 journalists from 15 countries organized by Forbidden Stories were able to go into the field, track supply chains and use open source tools to look into mines in India, Tanzania and Guatemala that once tried to cover up their activities.

By Marion Guégan & Cécile Schilis-Gallego

Indian reporter Jagendra Singh posted his last contribution to his Facebook page – where he regularly published his reporting – on June 1, 2015. He had been posting for over a month about local politician Rammurti Singh Verma and his alleged ties to illegal sand mining, which the United Nations has identified as a major environmental threat. That day, Singh was brought to the hospital with burns over 50 percent of his body. “The motherfuckers poured petrol on me. They jumped over the wall and got in. If they wanted to, they could have arrested me instead. What was the need to kill me?” said Singh in a video before he died from his injuries.

With his eyes closed and unable even to look into the camera, he accused police officers and supporters of Verma of setting him on fire. In the video, one can see his devastating burns. He died from his injuries seven days later. He was 46 years old.

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