World Service asylum exposé scoops award

A BBC World Service programme has won the One World Media Radio Documentary Award.

The programme, Message from Mavembo, broadcast in December 2005, investigated the fate of an asylum seeker, Muhnto Mavembo, since he was sent back to his country of origin, the Democratic Republic of Congo in January 2004.

Speaking to Press Gazette last November, the programme's maker, journalist Jenny Cuffe, said: "I've been in this job a long time, but I think that this was one of my most difficult assignments.

"I've always wanted to discover what actually happens to asylum seekers once they are deported.

"I had been trying to find evidence to confirm whether or not their lives are endangered by being returned to their country of origin, but there wasn't any because nobody seemed to have done any work following their progress once they are deported."

The One World jury praised Cuffe (pictured) for investigating a rarely covered story. It said her report asked challenging questions of the European Commission and other authorities, and also showed her courage as she tracked down former asylum seekers to hear their stories of torture and abuse first hand.

As a result of her programme, Cuffe did find Mavembo, who was living in hiding and too scared to talk. Before being deported from England, he had told the Home Office that he would be at risk of imprisonment and torture if he failed to gain political asylum.

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