Tracking down the refugee kidnap gangs wins an Foreign Press Association Award by Ramita Navai

Honoured and thrilled to win a prestigious FPA award for TV News Story of the Year. I was so lucky to work with an amazing team - you can see some of them in the photo below, from left to right: James Brabazon, Job Rabkin and director Lottie Gammon. And a huge thank you to those who aren't in the picture: Andrew Carter, our editor Tariq and local producer Marianna Karakoulaki. I dedicated our award to every Syrian refugee who makes the terrifying journey to find peace - especially to the two men in our film, Mohammed and Ahmed. Without their bravery, this story would never have been told.

With our brilliant director, Lottie Gammon.

Macedonia: Tracking down the refugee kidnap gangs nominated for an Amnesty Media Award by Ramita Navai

Journalist Ramita Navai travels the migrant route through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary to track down a gang of kidnappers who are holding refugees for ransom.

Honoured to be up against such strong films in the TV News category: Quentin Sommerville's Libyan Smugglers for BBC News and Jackie Long's expose Inside Yarl's Wood for Channel 4 News.

City of Lies wins Debut Political Book of the Year at the Political Book Awards by Ramita Navai

I was very honoured to win Debut Political Book of the Year at the Paddy Power Political Book Awards, especially as I was up against some pretty amazing titles. Here's a list of all the winners:

Political Book of the Year
Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain by Robert Ford & Matthew Goodwin (Routledge)

Polemic of the Year
An Inconvenient Genocide: Who Now Remembers the Armenians? by Geoffrey Robertson QC (Biteback Publishing)

International Affairs Book of the Year
Women of the World: The Rise of the Female Diplomat by Helen McCarthy (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Political History Book of the Year
Modernity Britain: Book Two: A Shake of the Dice 1959–62 by David Kynaston (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Political Biography of the Year
Roy Jenkins by John Campbell (Jonathan Cape)

World War One Book of the Year
The World's War by David Olusoga (Head of Zeus)

Political Humour and Satire Book of the Year
The Coalition Book by Martin Rowson (SelfMadeHero)

Debut Political Book of the Year
City of Lies: Love, Sex, Death and the Search for Truth in Tehran by Ramita Navai (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Political Fiction Book of the Year
Acts of Omission by Terry Stiastny (John Murray)

Practical Politics Book of the Year
The ‘Too Difficult’ Box by Charles Clarke (Biteback Publishing)

Check out all the books that made the short list by clicking here.

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa imprisoned in Burundi by Ramita Navai

I've just heard the terrible news that on 16 May, the brilliant, gentle human rights activist, Pierre Claver Mbonimpa was imprisoned without charge in Burundi. It is thought he was arrested after making comments on a radio programme denouncing the distribution of weapons to young people in Burundi, and of talking about reports of the presence of members of the Burundian army in Eastern Congo, and the training of young Burundians in the DRC by Burundian security services. 

My friend, the director Wael Dabbous, and I filmed him for our documentary about child prisoners. This is not Pierre Claver's first time behind bars - many years ago, he was wrongly imprisoned for possessing an illegal weapon when he worked as a policeman. In his tiny cell, he had promised himself that if he was ever released, he would dedicate his life to battling injustice. After two years, having endured regular beatings and torture, Pierre was finally freed and, true to his word, he founded the Burundian Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH). He is now the country's most famous human rights activist, campaigning against torture, corruption and the plight of 9,000 detainees being held without trial in the country's overcrowded jails. He is also one of the few people fighting for the rights of child prisoners, lobbying for the introduction of a separate judicial system for minors and for children to be held in separate prisons to adults. Pierre has been hailed as one of the few who stand up for the rights of both Hutu and Tutsi communities in a country divided by ethnic conflicts. He has received many death threats for his work against corruption. "Not even death threats can get me to stop - without me, these children, these prisoners have no one," he told me.

PLEASE help him - take a few minutes to send an email demanding for his release - follow these instructions by clicking here. 
 

UPDATE - Great news, Pierre Claver has been freed! Thank you to everyone who signed the petition. 

Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Ramita Navai

Transient

I started reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez's books in my late teens. There's no way to say this without sounding dramatic, but his writing transformed me in my youth. Later, I discovered his journalism, which of course took on new meaning when I started working as a journalist, and I was inspired all over again. Garcia Marquez was as natural a journalist as he was a writer, and his thoughts on journalism, written in an article for the Index of Censorship magazine in 1997, ring so true and are so firmly what I believe:  

"... “investigative” journalism is not something special, but that all journalism must, by definition, be investigative ... awareness that ethics are not merely an occasional condition of the trade, but an integral part, as essentially a part of each other as the buzz and the horsefly"

 

And I'll leave you with this quote, from Love in the Time of Cholera: 

"It is life, more than death, that has no limits" 

Tony Benn by Ramita Navai

Tony Benn was a rare person - a politician who put his beliefs above his desire for power; a politician who was a humanitarian at heart. Most importantly, he was a compassionate man. And this is why I loved him - doing it his way, unstoppable and angry, shaming the BBC over Gaza: