17 The Joe and Laurie Dine Award 2020

Best international reporting in any medium dealing with human rights

AWARD DATE: 2020

AWARD NAME: The Joe and Laurie Dine Award 2020

AWARD RECIPIENT: Margie Mason and Robin McDowell

AWARD RECIPIENT AFFILIATION: The Associated Press

AWARD HONORED WORK: “Fruits of Labor”

AWARD SPONSOR: Philip Dine

A powerful story of exploitation, slavery, human trafficking, sexual harassment, and greed in the making of palm oil – and 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 detailed and often risky reporting connected the chilling abuses on the palm oil plantations directly to the reader and explained why the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) stamp of approval is not enough. Indeed, these labels can be misleading to consumers who then believe a product is free from unsustainable and inhumane practices. Verification and auditing is always difficult, but the reporters made the case that Roundtable is used for greenwashing. The horrific practices that go into making palm oil in Indonesia and elsewhere are not new, but these stories helped bring the problems to light yet again and captured the attention of everyone from U.S. Senators to Girl Scouts.

Read the winning work:

Palm Oil Labor Abuses Linked To World’s Top Brands, Banks (Sept. 24, 2020)

Palm oil in products often obscured by many names

Rape, Abuses in Palm Oil Fields Linked to Top Beauty Brands (Nov. 24, 2020)

Child labor in palm oil industry tied to Girl Scout cookies (Dec. 29, 2020)

Supplementals US senators demand action after AP exposes palm oil abuses

US bans second Malaysian palm oil giant over forced labor

US Says It Will Block Palm Oil From Large Malaysian Producer

Girl Scouts call on cookie bakers to address child labor

Video: Only on AP: Palm oil in cookies tied to child labor (Dec. 29, 2020)

Malaysian palm oil giant counters sexual harassment claims (December 15, 2020)

Citation for Excellence:
Drew Ambrose, Ashish Malhotra, Savitri Choudhury and Rhiona Jade-Armont
“India’s Child Sex Highway”