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Portenier bursary competition offers safety training to independent journalists whose work exposing human rights abuses put them in danger
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

LONDON, ON, May 15, 2019 /CNW/ - Independent documentary-makers and freelance journalists working on significant projects exposing human rights abuses can apply for a bursary to help them obtain hostile environment training, more usually made available to journalists working in war zones.

The 2019 Portenier Human Rights Bursary competition, offered by the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, opens today and closes on June 12.

The annual bursary, introduced in 2015, is sponsored by the documentary filmmaker Giselle Portenier, whose work on human rights abuses has been internationally acclaimed.

When the bursary competition was established Ms. Portenier said: "Human rights abuses continue unabated in the 21st century, and human rights defenders worldwide need the support of journalists and documentarians to help them shine a light on these injustices. Some of the worst abuses are committed against women and children, sometimes as a result of war, but often systematically, in the name of culture and religion.

"The purpose of this bursary is to help ensure the safety of journalists and documentary filmmakers as they expose some of the most egregious abuses of human rights in the world today."

The bursary provides $3,000 (CAD) towards a hostile environment course of the winner's choosing from a range of approved course providers in Canada, the USA, Britain, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

It is open to qualified independent applicants of any nationality, experienced or novice, working on significant projects for which funding is in place. The rules are available on the Forum's website.

The bursary is awarded by an independent jury with expertise in the field, including a representative of the UK-based Rory Peck Trust, which also offers safety training bursaries and other support to freelancers.

Last year's winner was Ola Falola, a Togo-based freelance reporter investigating modern-day slavery in Mauritania. Slavery was officially abolished in the Islamic country in 1981, but is still widely practiced, and the law is seldom enforced.

In 2017 the Portenier was won by Brennan Leffler, a Toronto-based documentary producer/director. His documentary, for which filming has just been completed, focuses on women and children abducted and raped by the militant Islamist organization Boko Haram in Nigeria.

The Portenier winner in 2016 was Eman Helal, an Egyptian photojournalist whose work documented sexual harassment and attacks against women in her country.

In 2015 the inaugural Portenier was won by Jason O'Hara, a Toronto filmmaker working on a documentary about abuses in the clearance of favelas in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

The Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma is a charity whose work is supported by The Globe and Mail, CBC News, Radio-Canada, Cision, CNW and by individual donors.

Our thanks to Cision and CNW for supporting this announcement.

SOURCE Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma

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