Brazilian reporter wins CPJ's 2012 International Press Freedom Award

The Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) honored Brazilian reporter Mauri König with the 2012 International Press Freedom Award, an annual recognition for courageous reporting, the organization announced on its website.

König currently works as a special reporter for the newspaper Gazeta do Povo and is one of the most respected Brazilian journalists. In his 20-year career, König has received 21 journalism prizes, including two Esso awards, three Vladimir Herzog, two Lorenzo Natali, and the Inter American Press Association's Human Rights and Service to the Community Award. A 2008 book of König's reporting, "Tales of a Street Reporter," collects 15 of some of his most acclaimed work.

König's investigations have examined child sex trafficking, abductions of minors, and violence in the triple-frontier region of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. "He faced attacks and threats because of his work," CPJ Americas Coordinator Carlos Lauria said, according to the EFE news agency .

In December 2000, three men brutally beat König with chains, strangled him and left him for dead because of his reporting on the forced recruitment of Brazilian teenagers for military service in Paraguay. König faced a wave of police threats in 2003 for his work in the triple-frontier region.

Like so many attacks against journalists, these crimes go unsolved. Impunity like this is one reason why Brazil is considered the fifth worst country in the world to practice journalism, according to a report from the Swiss Press Emblem Campaign, with seven journalists killed in 2012 so far.

The three other journalists honored by CPJ were Mae Azango from Liberia, and jailed journalists Dhondup Wangchen from China and Azimjon Askarov from Kyrgyzstan, all of whom "faced severe reprisals for their work, including assault, threats, and torture," said CPJ's website.

"We are inspired by these journalists who have paid a high price for their enduring dedication to the truth," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon, according to the website.

CPJ will award the prizes on Nov. 20, in New York City. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the British newspaper Guardian, will also be awarded the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.