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Acting as the “fourth estate”, as a watchdog over governments and vested-interest groups is a core role of media in a democratic society. In 2012, over 200 stories carried out by dedicated journalists supported by IMS’ investigative journalism schemes around the world created debate, instigated positive change in communities, and set new professional standards for media content and practice.

SCOOP Eastern and Southeastern Europe

SCOOP, IMS’ trademark investigative journalism grant scheme and network for journalists in 12 countries in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, run in cooperation with the Danish Association of Investigative Journalism (FUJ), continued its successful work in 2012.

77 investigations on issues such as corruption, pollution and human trafficking were published in Eastern and Southeastern Europe in 2012, sparking public debate and action from authorities.

The video investigation “Deadly trips” by Vladimir Thoric and Galina Vasilieva tackled the issue of illegal passenger transportation in Moldova. The journalists revealed that the most profitable ­illegal routes were operated by former officers of law enforcement bodies protected by the acting official of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Following an airing of the video on national television, the investigation ultimately led to the resignation of the Minister of Internal Affairs who was also suspected of other illegalities.

In some cases the contacts initiated by SCOOP between investigative journalists in a given country led to the set-up of local organisations for investigative reporters. In Moldova, the NGO Centre for Transparency and Civic Engagement was established by SCOOP-supported journalists in September 2012 to promote investigative journalism and civic engagement.

SCOOP Central Asia

In the Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan SCOOP was off to a flying start in 2012 with 14 completed journalistic investigations despite repressive and often dangerous environments in which to practice journalism. Investigative journalism is still in its infancy in the region, underlined by the fact that the IMS-supported SCOOP is the first organisation to offer support to investigative journalism in Kyrgyzstan. Here, an investigation showed that apartments meant for victims of the riots in June 2010 who had lost family members were instead awarded to common criminals with the help of fraudulent and corrupted officials. The investigation led the Osh Municipal Property Department to set up a commission to go through the allocation of apartments.

SCOOP Russia

Increased repression dominated the media environment in Russia in 2012 where most non-state media remained financially weak and thus controlled and dependent on vested-interest groups. 14 journalistic investigations were completed, covering issues such as corruption, illegal trade with amber and appalling conditions for disabled war veterans.

SCOOP Russia, established in cooperation with FOJO, IMS and FUJ also trained journalists in a better understanding of the country’s media law, how to gain access to information and how to structure and develop an investigation.

Programme for African Investigative Reporting (PAIR)

Investigative journalism is extremely challenging in West Africa due to limited access to information, restrictive media laws, low wages, corruption and retaliations against journalists. PAIR, run in cooperation with FUJ and Media Foundation of West Africa (MFWA) supported 54 investigations in 2012 carried out by journalists in Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire. Issues investigated ranged from the illegal petrol trade between Nigeria, Benin and Togo to an American church accused of illegal adoption in Ghana.

Fairtrade Rip-off, a six-month transnational investigation into the Fairtrade label in West Africa funded by PAIR and led by the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR), found that cocoa farmers in West Africa received few or no benefits from the heightened prices paid by Europeans for “honest” chocolate. The story ­created a heated debate in the Netherlands where it was published.

Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ)

ARIJ strengthened its position in 2012 as an important regional driver in the call for government accountability through investigative journalism in the Middle East and North Africa. In largely volatile and repressive environments, 14 investigative reports were produced with ARIJ support by journalists from Syria, the Gaza strip, Tunisia, Iraq and Jordan.

The IMS-supported ARIJ also successfully launched four in-house investigative units in both broadcast and print media in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan from which 24 reports materialised. One ­story, an award-winning cooperation between BBC and Al Balad Radio in Jordan led to the closing of home care centers, the prosecution of staff and the establishment of a government investigative commission after horrendous physical abuse of disabled at care centers in Jordan was uncovered.

The Moroccan Association of Investigative Journalists (AMJI) which has benefited from advice from the ARIJ network, funded five investigative reports in 2012. With local sections in 11 of Morocco’s major cities, AMJI has served as an important instrument for lobbying for reforming media regulation.

Network for Iraqi Reporters for Investigative Journalism (NIRIJ)

NIRIJ, Iraq’s first network for investigative journalism set up in 2011 with support from IMS, continued to make headway. In 2012, NIRIJ secured a landmark agreement with Baghdad University Media College and IMS to jointly develop a new curriculum on investigative journalism for Iraqi journalists.

“The Iraqi media is like a dead body. We need to inject life into this body. By providing teaching in investigative journalism, we help both the Iraqi media and society to confront the widespread corruption and lack of fundamental freedoms of expression in our country,” says Mr. Hisham Hasan, the Dean of Baghdad University Media College.

Despite adverse conditions, five NIRIJ-supported investigations were carried out. One story by Dlovan Barwari on the brutal practice of female genital mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan led the Kurdish parliament to pass legislation in 2012 that criminalises female circumcision. A “fatwa” was also issued by the foremost religious leader in Kurdistan in 2012 stating that female circumcision is against Islamic beliefs.