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The Nation wins Amnesty award for HIV/Aids articles

The Nation was given a big emotional boost as its series of Aids-related articles won the Amnesty International Thailand committee's complimentary Media Award 2013, in the national newspaper category.

The English daily was bestowed the award at a ceremony yesterday, together with its sister publication, Kom Chad Luek, which also won a complimentary award.

"The award recognises our efforts in raising public awareness on the fatal disease among Thais," said The Nation editor Achara Deboonme. "It encourages us to pursue the commitment towards quality reporting for Thai society."

The Nation's winning series contained five articles describing the latest social conditions of people living with HIV/Aids in recognition of their hardship. The series called for a better understanding by members of the public towards people living with HIV/Aids, who sometimes become unknowingly infected. The articles were published to mark World Aids Day in December 2012.

Chularat Saengpassa, the local news editor who was in charge of the series, said her team decided to address the stigmatisation of people living with HIV because her team had seen how people were prone to shun this group throughout the past several decades.

"Imminent repulsion from families, communities and colleagues has made HIV-positive people reluctant to admit to their infections," she said.

Chularat hoped the series of Aids-related reports published by The Nation would create better public understanding of HIV/Aids and HIV-infected people.

"We hope to give people living with HIV a real place to stand in society," she said.

Punnee Amornviputpanich, who heads Kom Chad Luek's special-reports team, said revelations about waterboarding allegedly used by the CIA had prompted her to look into the torture of suspects in Thailand.

"In three southern border provinces, some suspects have been tortured with techniques that don't leave any mark or evidence. Apart from the physical pain, some victims suffer from the haunting memories for the rest of their lives," Punnee said.

By reporting on this issue, Punnee wished to see relevant authorities step in and stop such abuses.

The series, which was published in Kom Chad Luek newspaper, claims a complimentary award. Former prime minister Anand Panyarachun presented the awards to the winners at a ceremony yesterday.

Amnesty International Thailand organised the Media Awards in a bid to encourage local media to promote human rights protection. This year is the second year that Amnesty has given out the media awards. About 18 media houses entered articles and documentaries to compete in the 2013 awards. "The media plays an important role in promoting and raising awareness among members of the public about human rights protection," said Somchai Hormlaor, president of Amnesty International Thailand.

Somkiat Ornwimon, a former prominent TV reporter, said local media should pay more attention to human rights protection and promotion. Media representatives should also comply more seriously with the media's code of conduct, when producing news reports, he added.


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