It is with much joy and appreciation that we announce that the investigation “Under the unwatchful eye of the authorities’ deactivated cameras: dying in the darkest depths of the Mediterranean”, a collaborative investigation by Solomon, Forensis, The Guardian and STRG_F/ARD on the fatal shipwreck of Pylos, has won the 2023 Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism.
The collaborative investigation was published on July 6, 2023, and it follows the course that the fishing vessel Adriana took until it sank, leading to the deaths of over 600 people − all while under Greek and European supervision.
As part of the investigation, we collected over 20 survivor testimonies and analyzed material such as witness statements, official reports from the Hellenic Coast Guard and Frontex, deck logs of the Coast Guard vessel and tankers at sea, aerial photographs and vessel position and movement data and aircraft. We also secured exclusive footage from commercial vessels that were present near the incident and spoke to Frontex and Coast Guard sources.
The reconstruction of the information we gathered, resulted in a detailed chronology of the events of June 13 and 14, an interactive map showing Adriana’s movement, as well as a 3D model of the fishing vessel.
With the help of the 3D model, curated by Forensis researchers, we were able to conduct live interviews with survivors of the wreck, leveraging the visual capture of this body of data.
For this year’s award, 268 research projects and a total of more than 700 journalists from the European Union submitted applications. The award ceremony took place on October 17, 2023, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The award was established in tribute to Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who reported on issues of corruption, money laundering and organized crime. She was killed in 2017, when a car bomb placed in her car exploded. The award ceremony is held every year on the anniversary of her assassination.
Members of the research team:
From Solomon: Stavros Malichudis, Iliana Papangeli, Corina Petridi
From Forensis: Stefanos Levidis, Christina Varvia, Georgia Skartadou, Andreas Makas, Ebrahem Farooqui, Dimitra Andritsou, Peter Polack, Eyal Weizman, Jasper Humpert, Miriam Rainer, Salma Barakat, Zac Ioannidis, Elizabeth Breiner
From StrgF/ARD: Armin Ghassim, Sulaiman Tadmory, Timo Robben, Sebastian Heidelberger
From The Guardian: Giorgos Christidis, Katy Fallon, Lydia Emmanouilidou, and Julian Busch
Below, you can read the speech from the award ceremony:
On behalf of Solomon, Forensis, the Guardian, StrgF and all the co-authors of this investigation, we would like to thank the jury, organisers, and European Parliament for this honor.
Daphne Caruana Galizia was a fearless journalist who dedicated her life to speaking up against the abuse of state power and corruption. With her work, she showed us that words have the power to hold governments and powerful people to account. It is an honor to be connected to her name and her legacy.
At the same time, colleagues are losing their lives while reporting on state violence. Their death makes our work more pressing than ever.
The shipwreck of 14 June 2023, inside the Greek Search and Rescue zone in the Mediterranean Sea, caused the deaths of more than 600 people, making it the deadliest migrant shipwreck in recent history. The fatal event has forced us to confront questions about so-called European values and where the EU really stands on protecting human life — regardless of passport, ethnicity, race, gender, disability, or class. This joint investigation showed how violent and restrictive EU migration policies are ultimately responsible for a massive loss of life.
Many of the survivors who spoke to us and made this investigation possible are still stuck in a Greek refugee camp, waiting for decisions and navigating a system that has repeatedly sent them the message that their lives don’t matter.
When we see a double standard on how life is being treated, be it here, at the borders of our union, or elsewhere, we see it as our duty as journalists and researchers to amplify the voices of those who are not allowed to speak or go unheard. Amidst the clutter of misinformation, it is our responsibility to bring clarity and fairness to the stories we transmit.
We end with some words from one of the survivors of the shipwreck, a 21-year-old from Pakistan. Yesterday he told us he wanted people to know that although they survived for 5 days at sea, the shipwreck and the drowning of hundreds of people happened when the Greek coast guard showed up on scene. He’s still at a Greek refugee camp, waiting for a decision on his asylum application. He says he wants documents, freedom, to see his parents, and justice for friends and family who perished.
We hope this award helps bring recognition to survivors and the people who lost family members and loved ones in the Pylos shipwreck. And that these deaths have not gone unnoticed and will not go unpunished.