The National Post’s Stewart Bell has been recognized for an investigative series on human smuggling from South Asia to Canada.
The South Asian Journalists Association announced Mr. Bell’s award for outstanding enterprise reporting in Washington Saturday.
The National Post was the only Canadian publication recognized at Saturday’s gala. Other winners included CNN, Time Magazine and Al Jazeera.
“Stewart Bell is one of the best investigative reporters in Canada,” said Douglas Kelly, publisher of the National Post. “We’re thrilled the South Asia Journalists Association has recognized both his outstanding work and a series that took Canadians deep into a shadowy world that is having a major impact on our country’s public policy.”
Mr. Bell’s four-part series, On The Smugglers’ Trail, tracked down the main operators behind a smuggling scheme that sent 492 Sri Lankan refugees and Tamil Tigers rebels to Canada aboard the MV Sun Sea in August, 2010. The series ran in May, 2011, and four of the men identified have since been arrested.
The National Post writer spent time in a Bangkok neighbourhood where refugees came from Sri Lanka to charter passage into Canada through the underground network. Through a set of interviews in the area, helped by classified RCMP and Thai police documents, Mr. Bell was able to find the names and suspected whereabouts of the businessmen who made millions of dollars charging refugees to board dilapidated cargo ships en route to the shores of British Columbia.
In the latter part of the series, Mr. Bell shifted the lens from the smuggling network and political debate in Ottawa to the dire Thai prison situation for Sri Lankan refugees who tried and failed to charter passage to Canada.