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Rappler’s diplomatic immunity series bags SOPA 2024 investigative award

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Rappler’s diplomatic immunity series bags SOPA 2024 investigative award
The four-part, data-driven, and cross-border investigation on how diplomatic immunity is used to exploit migrant workers wins the 2024 regional Carlos Tejada Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting

MANILA, Philippines – A Rappler series investigating how diplomats exploit their migrant domestic workers and get away with it won the 2024 Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) regional Carlos Tejada Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting on Thursday, June 20.

The series, called Diplomatic Immunity and Impunity, is a four-part story written by journalist Ana P. Santos, Rappler multimedia reporter Michelle Abad, and Rappler forensics researcher Pauline Macaraeg. SOPA announced the winners on Thursday, June 20.

“Extensively researched investigation uncovering how diplomats exploit cheap labor with impunity. Congratulations!” SOPA said in an X post.

Diplomatic immunity and impunity – a Rappler series

Diplomatic immunity and impunity – a Rappler series

The Diplomatic Immunity and Impunity series is a data-driven, cross-border investigation unveiling how erring diplomats have been able to exploit their domestic workers and have gotten away with it for decades due to a privilege called diplomatic immunity given to them by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Through extensive research and analysis, the team built a database and created visualizations of reported cases of diplomat abuses of migrant workers.

Most of the exploited domestic workers were found to be women from developing countries. Years after escaping the abuse, justice remained elusive for the workers.

The main four-part series was complemented with an explainer on diplomatic immunity, a documentary featuring case studies of domestic workers who came forward, and a special Inside Track report on the most absurd cases of abuse the team monitored.

Reporting for the project was supported by JournalismFund Europe’s Modern Slavery Unveiled Grant Programme, as well as the Pulitzer Center.

This SOPA award honors the life and work of Carlos Tejada, The New York Times’ deputy Asia editor who died in December 2021. It recognizes a publication “that advances the public interest on a topic of significance by exposing wrongdoing or corruption, uncovering malfeasance or, in some other way, holding the powerful to account.”

SOPA also recognized as Honorable Mention a piece by Frontier Myanmar investigating the plastic waste trade which eventually uncovered an “opaque global supply chain that is easily exploited by foreign companies.”

The diplomatic immunity series was one of two Rappler finalists in the 2024 SOPA awards – the other being Rappler’s investigation into the deadly 2022 Kusiong landslides.

The Kusiong Story Project is comprised of a two-part investigative story and a documentary that looked into the plight of the non-Moro indigenous peoples Teduray of Barangay Kusiong in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte.

The Kusiong project was a finalist in the regional Excellence in Journalistic Innovation category. The team used animations based on extensive research and community and expert interviews to show what happened after Teduray residents were forced to vacate their shoreline homes in 2020 to relocate to a new area that was buried in mud after landslides were triggered by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng in 2022.

Rappler has won several SOPA awards for its reporting on the environment and the deadly drug war of the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte.

SOPA earlier recognized Rappler’s stories on the Marawi siege, the Philippines’ incest problem, and exploitation of women by cops, and the plight of seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic. –

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