AFP's Kabul bureau has won one of Asia's most prestigious journalism prizes, the SOPA (Society of Publishers in Asia), for a report exposing the practice of "bacha bazi", or institutionalised child sex slavery, in Afghanistan.
Bureau chief Anuj Chopra and the Afghan team won the award for "Excellence in Human Rights Reporting" for their exclusive report, made in June 2016, showing the detrimental effects of this practice on security in war-torn Afghanistan.
The report detailed how Taliban insurgents are using these children to mount crippling insider attacks that have killed hundreds of police in southern Afghanistan over the previous two years.
"AFP is delighted at the recognition of the fine work of our Kabul bureau which, like the rest of the media in the country, operates in extremely difficult conditions," said AFP regional director for the Asia-Pacific region Philippe Massonnet. He underlined the “the courage of victims, their families, and officials who spoke with us and shared their stories”.
The AFP Kabul team also won for this report the "English Feature News" category at the Human Rights Press Awards in Hong Kong last month.