On June 26, 2021, JHR Mali, in partnership with la Maison de la Presse, l’Union des Radios et Télévisions Libres du Mali, and l’École Supérieure de Journalisme et des Sciences de la Communication de Bamako, held the first edition of the Human Rights Journalism Awards in Bamako, celebrating the work of two professional journalists and two journalism students as part of the project “Strengthening Media to Promote Inclusive Democracy in Mali” funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF).

The award sought to recognize outstanding reporting on human rights and good governance issues, and to incentivize local journalists to strive for excellence in their work. Notably present were Bandjougou Danté, President of the Maison de la Presse, Benjamin Sangala, a representative of the minister in charge of the state reform, and Tiouta Traoré, a representative for the Minister of Communication.

Winners were designated for print and online, and radio, for both professional and student journalists. Best web or online human rights story by a professional went to Mariétou Konaté of L’Annonceur for «Mariage précoce: Le témoignage poignant de FT» [“Child marriage: FT’s touching testimony”], while Moussa Bilaly Sidibé won in the student category for their work entitled «Autonomisation des femmes à Baya (Sélingué)» [“Women’s empowerment in Baya (Sélingué”]. 

On the broadcast side, Abed-Nego Dakouo at Nada FM took the trophy for best radio human rights story by a professional with «Mariage précoce des élèves à Mafouné» [“Mafouné students and child marriage”]. Sory Ibrahim Maïga took home the student radio category with «Impact du dragage de l’or sur le Falémé à Kéniéba» [“The impact of dredging for gold on the Falémé River in Kéniéba”].  A trophy was also awarded to the Maison de presse on behalf of all journalists in Mali for the organization’s commitment to strengthening the Malian media sector.

JHR’s hope is that this award will help boost the professional reputation of recipients while encouraging those who did not win to continue working to improve the quality of their work.