The Investigation Award

The Investigation Award

Shedding light on hidden facts can change the world: that’s why Public Eye is making the Investigation Award, set up on the occasion of its 50th birthday in 2018, into an event that takes place every two years. The prize supports media professionals and NGOs that investigate the activities of Swiss companies in developing countries and their ramifications in terms of human rights violations, environmental damage or financial crimes.

More infos

  • A necessary prize

    With the launch of the Investigation Award on its 50th birthday, Public Eye fulfilled a longstanding desire. The new prize seeks to contribute to well-founded, engaged and innovative research and journalism. But it also mirrors the organisation’s tradition of investigative journalism: our campaign and lobby work has always been based on careful documentation of grievances that call for policy change.

    The over 50 applications submitted for this first edition clearly showed how many important ideas are out there. But it also revealed the extent to which many reporters, correspondents and civil society actors lack the resources necessary to undertake costly research. The two winning projects in 2018 were testament to the value of investing in such research, leading Public Eye to continue the award by holding it every two years.

  • A prestigious jury

    We set up a breath-taking jury to choose the winners of our prize!

    It was comprised of Public Eye affiliates but above all renowned journalists who embody the clout and intelligence that investigation can carry when used, despite the headwinds it faces. 

    • Anya Schiffrin is the director of the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs’ International Media, Advocacy, and Communications Specialization, and has published several books on journalism, including her most recent one Global Muckraking. Before she worked for Reuters News Agency in Spain and was head of the Wall Street Journal bureau in the Netherlands and Vietnam. She is also on the advisory board of the George Soros' Open Society Foundation and of the Natural Resource Governance Institute, which specialises in commodities policy.
    • Oliver Zihlmann is co-head of Tamedia's investigation unit in Bern (for Tages-Anzeiger, Sonntagszeitung, Le Matin, Tribune de Genève). He holds a PhD in History, is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and has led the Swiss team that worked on the Swiss Leaks, Panama Papers and Paradise Papers stories. He previously worked for Swiss television and as a correspondent in Berlin. He is also the author of a political book entitled Der Fall Borer.
    • Australian journalist Will Fitzgibbon has, since 2014, been working as a senior reporter for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which spearheaded investigations such as Swiss Leaks and the Paradise Papers. He is coordinating the collaborations with ICIJ’s African and Middle Eastern partners. Previously, he worked at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London and holds a Master's Degree in Science from the London School of Economics.
    • Géraldine Viret has worked as Public Eye’s Media Directress since 2009. She holds a Master in Language and Literature. Her field of specialisation is comparative literature, and she is passionate about the writing of collective memory and trauma. A graduate in ‘corporate communication’, she writes articles for Public Eye and the Trigon Foundation, the latter of which is committed to promoting film works from developing and emerging countries.
    • Adrià Burdy Carbo is an investigative journalist with Public Eye who specializes in commodities and finance and recently co-authored Trafigura’s oil business in South Sudan. A graduate from the London School of Economics, he worked as economy editor at the Geneva-based daily Le Temps before joining Public Eye. In another life, he was with Nuevo Diario in Nicaragua. For his story Trap on the high seas he, together with photographer Camille Pagella, received the first ACANU prize.
    • Media Director Oliver Classen has been a member of the Public Eye team for over a decade. Co-author of Public Eye’s best-selling book ”Commodities: Switzerland’s most dangerous business”, he was, for several years, also in charge of coordinating the Public Eye Awards, a counter-summit to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. He previously worked as a journalist, among others for Handelszeitung, Aargauer Zeitung or Tages-Anzeiger, and still writes occasional articles for Neue Zürcher Zeitung or Werbewoche.
  • The winners 2018

    For the first edition of the Investigation Award, the same prestigious jury as 2020 selected two projects from 55 proposals submitted from 22 countries to shine a spotlight on dubious practices used by Swiss companies in poor countries. Lausanne-based reporter Marie Maurisse examined the secret recipes used by Swiss tobacco companies and and Gie Goris of MO* Magazine (Belgium), together with Nicola Mulinaris from the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, uncovered the role of Swiss companies in the uncontrolled dismantling of ships in southern Asia.

    «Toxic cigarettes for Africa»

    According to Maurisse’s findings, in 2017 some 2,900 tonnes – or 3,625 billion cigarettes – were exported from Switzerland to Morocco. Tests exclusive undertaken for her story about “The blazing success of Swiss cigarettes in Africa” revealed a scandalous double standard: cigarettes produced by Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) in Switzerland and sold in Morocco contained markedly higher levels of particles, nicotine and carbon monoxide than those produced for the domestic market.

    «Savage ship dismantling in Asia»

    Goris looked for signs of Swiss shipping companies in the Indian town of Alang, where ships go to die in secret. There, he met middle-aged wrecks, angry trade unionists and workers deprived of their rights and risking their health on a daily basis for a meagre wage. Even MSC uses Alang to dispose of its floating toxic waste. The “recycling” methods of the Geneva-based company show the vast rift between sustainability promises and the reality of the Swiss shipping industry leaders’ business practices.

Focus on Global Justice

Although it focuses on present action, the Investigation Award was set up to celebrate Public Eye’s anniversary and reflects the organisation’s long tradition of investigative journalism; Public Eye has always associated its advocacy and campaigning with the often arduous process of shedding light on illegitimate or illegal activities against which action must be taken.

Explore the highlights of 50 years of work to make the world a fairer place

Support us Public Eye fights against injustice that has a significant link to Switzerland.