AP investigative reporters Margie Mason and Robin McDowell won the Joe and Laurie Dine Award for best international reporting dealing with human rights, for an incisive investigation that uncovered the exploitation of an invisible workforce of millions of men, women and children from some of the poorest corners of Asia.
They traced the oil to major brands such as Nestle, Unilever, Kellogg's and PepsiCo, prompting the U.S. government to ban shipments from two major Malaysian palm oil producers.
The judges said:
A powerful story of exploitation, slavery, human trafficking, sexual harassment, and greed in the making of palm oil — an ubiquitous ingredient which Americans consume daily. As one source interviewed for the series put it: "When Americans and Europeans see palm oil is listed as an ingredient in their snacks,’ he said, they should know ‘it’s the same as consuming our sweat and blood.’
The investigation has also earned the Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics, the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting and an Investigative Reporters and Editors award.
AP staff also won the OPC Roy Roman Award for best investigative reporting on an international story. Relying on thousands of pages of exclusive government documents, hundreds of interviews and more, AP held China to account for how it responded to COVID-19 and for human rights abuses against the Uighurs.
Led by Beijing-based video journalist Dake Kang, AP investigated how China’s official narrative was covering up the truth of how COVID-19 swept through Wuhan in January 2020.
AP also exposed how China forced Uighurs to cut births with IUDs, abortions and sterilization, reporting that drew global outrage. The stories on China’s Uighurs grew from extensive AP reporting on human rights abuses in Xinjiang in recent years.
The judges said:
The AP disclosed how specific actions by China all but assured the spread of COVID-19 around the world and inflicted draconian human rights abuses on the nation’s Uighur minority. Led by AP Beijing reporter Dake Kang, the series revealed that for six days China’s leaders held off alerting the public as to the great danger posed by the virus, setting the stage for its global spread.
AP also earned two OPC citations.
Cairo-based photographer Nariman El-Mofty earned a Robert Capa Award citation for gripping photographs of Ethiopians fleeing war.
Photographer Emilio Morenatti, based in Madrid, earned a Feature Photography Award citation for poignant images illustrating the pandemic’s toll on Spain’s elderly population.