A joint investigation by the Toronto Star and El Nuevo Herald of child sex tourism in Cuba and Canada won a prize from Beyond Borders, a Canadian nonprofit that works to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
In the wake of the reports, the Canadian government vowed to tighten the controls on sex offenders who travel abroad to abuse children, and Cuban police drove many prostitutes out of a Havana neighborhood known for its seedy bars.
The series, titled “The Ugly Canadians: Child Sex Tourism,” was honored with the English Integrated Media award by Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada, an affiliate of End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT). The global network is active in 74 nations.
“An extensive investigation in Cuba and Canada shows that much more needs to be done to stop Canadian sex offenders from traveling to victimize children,” Beyond Borders said in announcing the prize and four others Wednesday.
Named in the award were Toronto Star investigative reporters Robert Cribb, Jennifer Quinn, and Julian Sher and El Nuevo Herald writer Juan O. Tamayo, who reports on Cuba from Miami.
The investigation was launched after Cribb and El Nuevo Herald Executive Editor Manny Garcia agreed to cooperate on a cross-border project on Canadians who travel abroad for sex with minors.
“The reason we got into journalism was to help the voiceless, and El Nuevo Herald’s partnership with the Toronto Star has led to critical reforms in Canada and Cuba and no doubt has saved children from sexual predators,” Garcia said.
“This was a great partnership on an important story,” said Lynn McAuley, the Star’s associate editor for World and Enterprise. “It’s gratifying to see that journalism continues to have the power to effect change as it has in Canada and, it appears, in Cuba.”
The other winners were:
• English print: Steffanie Petroni, for her three-part series on a young Canadian woman’s descent into addiction and prostitution.
• French print: Isabelle Hachey, for stories showing that sex tourism is alive and well in Montréal, and that teens are especially vulnerable to exploitation during major events like the Montreal Grand Prix.
• English electronic: Victor Malarek and Litsa Sourtzis, for their reports on former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children who alleged they were abused by staff members.
• French electronic: Johanne Bonneau and Johanne Faucher, for reports on former students of the Montreal Institute for the Deaf who alleged they suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the Clerics of Saint Viator.