“Secret Prisoners of Dhaka” shortlisted for Global Shining Light Award 2023

“The bravest example of Bangladeshi journalism” — Netra News investigation into secret DGFI prison among the finalist entries of prestigious GIJN prize.

“Secret Prisoners of Dhaka” shortlisted for Global Shining Light Award 2023

Netra News investigation, Secret Prisoners of Dhaka (আয়নাঘরের বন্দী), is among the six investigative journalism projects shortlisted for the Global Shining Light Award 2023, administered by the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN).

The prestigious international prize is awarded every two years to investigative journalists to “honor watchdog journalism in developing or transitioning countries carried out under threat, or in perilous conditions.”

This year’s winners will be announced at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, in September 2023.

The other nominees for the award under the small and medium outlet category are: Above the Law (South Africa), Kidnapping in Haiti — Caught in the Middle (Haiti), Scorpion’ Prison Cells Above the Law (Egypt) and Bad Blood (North Macedonia).

These have been shortlisted by the award jury from 419 submissions from 84 countries.

GIJN is a US-based non-profit association of 244 organisations in 90 countries, working to foster and strengthen investigative reporting around the world. GIJN provides the tools, technology, and training to investigative journalists to expose abuses of power and lack of accountability.

The Netra News investigation, Secret Prisoners of Dhaka, revealed the existence of a secret detention facility, code-named Aynaghar (House of Mirror), holding dozens of dissidents and criminal suspects inside the Dhaka Cantonment, operated by the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), Bangladesh’s military intelligence agency.

As GIJN noted: “In an important piece of watchdog journalism, Netra News — an exiled nonprofit newsroom for Bangladeshi audiences — revealed the existence of a secret detention center holding a wide range of dissidents and criminal suspects in the capital of Dhaka. This investigative documentary — which the outlet says has been viewed more than one million times — included testimony from former detainees, verification from current military officers, and photographs of the cramped and inhumane conditions inside.”

“This particular story exposed a ‘torture cell’ of the Bangladesh military which is, in any circumstances, the bravest example of Bangladeshi journalism,” a GIJN reviewer commented on the investigation.

The Netra News investigative journalist team included four journalists in Bangladesh who cannot currently be named for safety reasons, along with Tasneem Khalil, Nazmul Ahasan, Zulkarnain Saer Khan, and David Bergman.●