November 2, 2023 | Thursday
Last month, the European Union highlighted the importance of fearless journalism by announcing the winners of its 2023 Award for Investigative Journalism.
Taking home the coveted first prize was Kreshnik Gashi, the managing editor of KALLXO.com, a product of BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova. Gashi’s investigation, titled “The Purchase of the Chief Prosecutor,” cast a glaring spotlight on a tangled web of corruption, connecting influential businessmen, politicians, and figures within Kosovo’s justice system.
Initiated by BIRN, this thorough two-year probe, which culminated in November 2022, alleged the surreptitious flow of 150,000 euros meant to manipulate judgments in Kosovo’s courts. Bolstering the gravity of these findings, all recordings associated with the investigation were obtained in public spaces, underscoring their public importance.
Dafina Halili from Kosovo 2.0 secured the second prize. Her investigation, “Ghost Schools, Ghetto Schools, and Segregated Shifts,” delves into the alarming segregation of Roma and Ashkali children within Kosovo’s educational system. The report highlights discriminatory practices across various locations, especially in Serbian-run schools. Notably, a school in North Mitrovica segregates Roma children to a separate shift from Serbian students and other communities.
The third prize was awarded to Saranda Ramaj of “Koha Ditore” for her in-depth series titled “Abuzimet me Fondin për Trajtim Jashtë Vendi” (Abuses with the Fund for Treatment Abroad). Ramaj’s investigation spotlighted the misuse of millions of euros allocated for critically ill patients. In this 16-part series, she meticulously probed the public health sector, uncovering the unchecked operations of the Program for Treatment Outside Public Institutions. Her findings brought to light irregular payments, inflated invoices, and raised questions regarding whether patients truly received the services for which the state had paid.
The recognition of these journalists by the EU is not just an acknowledgment of their exceptional work but also an affirmation of the critical role of investigative journalism in holding powers accountable and championing transparency.