Freelancers We've Helped

Here are some of the freelance journalists we've supported with assistance grants, organised by region. Find out more by clicking on their image.

Tracie WilliamsUSA - Arrested

Tracie Williams

Tracie was documenting events at Standing Rock camp when police swept in.

Tracie WilliamsUSA - Arrested

Tracie Williams
Tracie was documenting the arrests of two men at Standing Rock camp, North Dakota, when she was arrested herself.

American photojournalist Tracie Williams was documenting the arrests of two men praying by a sacred fire at Standing Rock camp, North Dakota, when police swept in. She was arrested shortly afterwards, despite protestations that she was a journalist. Her equipment was seize as she was handcuffed with zip ties and taken to McLean County jail. She was later charged with obstructing government functions and ordered to pay a $3k fine or face a year in jail .Tracie pleaded not guilty and is yet to stand trial.

A grant from the Trust enabled her to pay her bills after she was left unable to work. “Through the generous fnancial support of the Rory Peck Trust, I was able to fnd much needed stability and solace during a tumultuous time,” said Tracie. “I am forever grateful for this amazing gesture as it allowed me to focus my energies in securing legal representation for my criminal trial and prepare for my legal defense, while providing time and space to heal from this traumatic event.”

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Family of Cecilio PinedaMexico - Killed

Family of Cecilio Pineda

Following Cecilio's murder, a grant helped his family left behind.

Family of Cecilio PinedaMexico - Killed

Family of Cecilio Pineda
Cecilio, an experienced Mexican journalist, was killed in March 2017 after posting a video about the leader of a drug trafficking gang.

Mexican authorities’ failure to investigate crimes against journalists has led to impunity for drug gangs, who threaten and often kill those who speak up against them. Cecilio, an experienced freelance journalist who covered crime, corruption and other social issues for both local and national media, fell victim to this trend when he was killed in March 2017 in Ciudad Altamirana having posted a video about the leader of the drug trafficking gang, El Tequilero, and accusing local police of protecting the group.

Cecilio left behind a wife and two daughters, who were dependent on his income and who were left in shock following his sudden and tragic death. The Trust provided a grant to cover basic subsistence and health needs for the family, giving his widow the requisite time to think through how she would continue to provide for them.

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Claudia Julieta DuqueColombia - Threatened

Claudia Julieta Duque

Claudia was the victim of threats and harassment by Colombian officials.

Claudia Julieta DuqueColombia - Threatened

Claudia Julieta Duque
Her landmark investigative work enabled the criminal investigation of numerous state officials, politicians and paramilitaries in several high profile cases.

As a result of Claudia's investigative journalistm, she was marked as a "priority target" for the DAS (Administrative Department for Security). She subsequently fell victim to illegal surveillance, interception of electronic mails, repeated threats, psychological torture and harassment by the officials - she was even forced to leave the country on several occasions for security reasons.

Claudia stated that the attacks and threats had only increased over the years, forcing her and her daughter to rely heavily on the protection from the National Protection Unit.

Although she had enough to cover this and her basic needs, she struggled to cover the legal fees of the drawn-out lawsuits she had brought to Court - a grant from the Trust went towards helping her with this.

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Fred Alvaro DuronHonduras - In Exile

Fred Alvaro Duron

A grant from the Trust covered his needs while he applied for asylum in Canada.

Fred Alvaro DuronHonduras - In Exile

Fred Alvaro Duron
Threats against his journalism were intensified after a friend was killed for his investigations into drug cartels and related land issues.

The day his friend was killed, Fred had received threats warning him of the “same fate” should he continue his reporting. In an unrelated incident in 2015, Fred was threatened once again by government officials who disapproved of his investigations into the conditions of a local indigenous community.

When Fred was invited to Toronto to discuss his work, he decided to initiate an asylum claim for residence in Canada as he felt the conditions for him to work as journalist in Honduras were too dangerous. The Trust provided a grant to cover Fred’s basic needs for two months as he waited for a response regarding his asylum application in Canada.

Image credit: Parcel Design Toronto 

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Indalecio BenitezMexico - Attacked

Indalecio Benitez

A grant from the Trust helped Indalecio cope with his son's death, and more.

Indalecio BenitezMexico - Attacked

Indalecio Benitez
Indalecio is the founder of a community radio station based in Luvianos, Mexico State. In 2014, unidentified men opened fire on his vehicle, killing his 12 year old son, Juan.

The attack happened as he returned home with his family in 2014, and was most likely in response to his broadcasts. With the support of local organisations he and his family were relocated to Mexico City, where they received financial assistance to cover food and accommodation costs.

During that time, his radio station was run by other members of his community. Although Indalecio wanted to return home soon after the attack to continue his work, the organisations supporting him would not authorize the return, fearing for his safety.

As a result, he and his family remained in Mexico City where living costs were much more expensive. In addition to these financial concerns, the family attempted to cope with their grief, receiving emotional support and medication where necessary.

A grant from the Trust contributed towards Indalecio’s basic living costs i.e. public transport, medication for his panic attacks. It also covered the costs of his children’s education in Mexico City. Indalecio’s participation in RPT’s Mexico Trauma workshop in 2016 was a great opportunity for him to express his emotions and learn ways to cope with his anxiety.

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Joao PinaArgentina - In Crisis

Joao Pina

A grant allowed photographer Joao replace camera equipment stolen at gunpoint.

Joao PinaArgentina - In Crisis

Joao Pina
Portuguese photojournalist Joao was in Argentina following the story of a local football team.

As he and the reporter walked away from the team’s morning training session they were approached by a man with a gun who stole Joao’s bag along with all his camera equipment.

According to the police, it was likely that someone from inside the football club had tipped off the robber, though there was little hope that the equipment could be recovered. Joao didn’t have insurance as he could not afford it, and the magazine for which he was doing the story refused to offer him any assistance.

As a result, he was unable to work or make a living from his profession. The Trust provided a grant to contribute towards new equipment for Joao, helping him get back to work as soon as possible.

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Jonatan RosasMexico - Threatened

Jonatan Rosas

Destroying a freelancer’s equipment can destroy a livelihood & silence a story.

Jonatan RosasMexico - Threatened

Jonatan Rosas
Photojournalist Jonatan Rosas was already well acquainted with the fear that comes with being a journalist in Mexico.

Jonatan's home state of Veracruz, where he has been following stories of local politics and social movements throughout his career, is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a freelancer. In the last 6 years, 17 journalists have been killed in Veracruz state. One of them was Jonatan’s colleague and friend, Ruben Espinosa - who was found dead in Mexico City after fleeing Veracruz in 2015.

When he heard about Ruben’s death, Jonatan was one of the first to cover the story. The newspaper he worked for, La Union de Medellin, made high-profile allegations of links between Espinosa’s murder and the political establishment in Veracruz. Although many journalists like Jonatan believe they know who is responsible, few are hopeful of justice.

One year on, Jonatan was working on a special report about Espinosa’s death. He was out of the house sending testimonial videos to a colleague when the attack happened. Intruders broke into his home and took everything; his laptop, two cameras, cables, adaptors and two  hard drives containing over 5 years work. They even took his computer’s mouse.   

After talking to our local partners Article 19, Jonatan made a plan. It was clearly no longer safe for him to stay in Mexico; he was lucky not to be in when his house was ransacked. Using his savings, he fled to Ecuador, and began the slow and gruelling process of becoming a refugee. Without any equipment, Jonatan was unable to earn enough money to support himself. With a grant from the Trust, he has been able to replace some of his equipment, and is now getting more and more commissions for work.

It’s often very difficult for freelancers in exile to get a foot in the door of their profession in a new country. We helped Jonatan get back on his feet - but it’s his sheer determination and commitment that has meant he can return to work and support himself long term.

 

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Pedro CacheMexico - Imprisoned

Pedro Cache

Pedro was imprisoned after covering protests by the Mayan population in Mexico.

Pedro CacheMexico - Imprisoned

Pedro Cache
Pedro, a freelance investigative journalist known for his support of Mayan causes, was imprisoned by Mexican state forces in 2014 for inciting protests.

Whilst in prison, he was tortured on numerous occasions and often refused basic medical care. As a result, one of his arms was damaged considerably.

After ten months in prison, Pedro was declared innocent of all charges and released. Yet with two children to support, physio required for his arm and a small business to re-start, he was faced with many financial difficulties.

As Pedro adjusted to life after his release, the Trust provided a grant to cover two months basic subsistence for him and his family.

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David MarisVenezuela - Attacked

David Maris

A grant helped David buy new equipment after his was confiscated by soldiers.

David MarisVenezuela - Attacked

David Maris
David had been covering a story about Lilian Tintori, the wife of a well-known politician jailed by Venezuelan government when he was detained.

As he and his journalist colleague arrived at the prison where Tintori’s husband was held, a group of soldiers confiscated David’s photographic equipment, and arrested him without charge.

The case was eventually dismissed, but without his kit, David lost valuable job opportunities. A grant from the Trust contributed to the cost of a new camera and lenses that helped get David back to work.

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Anabel HernándezMexico - Threatened

Anabel Hernández

Anabel received death threats after the publication of her book, Narcoland.

Anabel HernándezMexico - Threatened

Anabel Hernández
Anabel Hernández was forced to flee Mexico after receiving death threats and intimidation.

Anabel is an internationally acclaimed freelance journalist well-known for her coverage of the drug war in Mexico. Since the publication of her book, “Los Señores del Narco” (published in English as "Narcoland" ) in 2010, Hernández has been a target of numerous threats and was, until recently, under the protection of Mexico City authorities.

Her book details the roots of drug trafficking in Mexico and accuses officials, businessmen, and the higher echelons of the Federal Police of collusion with organized crime. 

Anabel's family was the target of an attack during a birthday party in 2011 and several of her sources have been threatened, killed or jailed. In 2014, despite continuing to receive constant death threats, the Mexico City authorities withdrew her protection.

As a result, in March of that year, Anabel decided to leave the country for one year because of the uncertainty about her and her family’s safety in Mexico.

Image credit: Pamela Panebianco

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Olivier Acuña BarbaMexico - Threatened

Olivier Acuña Barba

Olivier fled Mexico in May 2013 out of fear for the safety of him and his son.

Olivier Acuña BarbaMexico - Threatened

Olivier Acuña Barba
Throughout his career as a print journalist, Olivier has received death threats, been harassed and even kidnapped and tortured. He was forced to flee his home in 2013.

Olivier started covering corruption, politics and organized crime as a print journalist in 1996. Since then, he has received death threats, been falsely accused of criminal activity, harassed, extorted and even kidnapped and tortured.

In May 2013, after receiving several anonymous death threats he finally decided it was time to leave, and travelled to the UK with his son. He began studying for his MA in Journalism at Birmingham City University, paying the fees with his savings and support from his family, but was unable to find work.

Since finishing his classes, however, he was offered a job in Ecuador by Telesur, a television network based in Venezuela but was unable to afford the flights to get there. 

Olivier was desperate for some short term help that would give him long-term stability, so the Trust covered his travel costs. Olivier is now back at work, living safely with his son in Ecuador.

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Sonia GodoyColombia - Threatened

Sonia Godoy

Sonia fled her home when she began receiving threats from paramilitaries.

Sonia GodoyColombia - Threatened

Sonia Godoy
Sonia was forced to flee her home when she was threatened and intimidated for her work.

In Colombia, threats, violence and intimidation from paramilitaries, politicians and drug gangs are common obstacles for  freelance journalists, and the southwestern department of Cauca is one of the most dangerous regions in the entire country. 

Based there, local freelancer Sonia Godoy suffered years of harassment because of her reporting and was finally forced to leave her hometown for the capital, Bogota, in 2012.  Like many freelancers forced to relocate, she suddently found herself without  contacts and few opportunities for work. As a result, she found herself struggling to support herself and facing serious difficulties in a new city. 

But through the support of RPT and our Colombian partners FLIP (La Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa), Sonia was able to set up online journalism initiative La Otra Orilla, with three freelance colleagues, which has provided the journalists with a sustainable means of work and - eventually - income.  In 2013 the site was nominated for The National Award for the Defense of Human Rights in Colombia.

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