A SCHOOLGIRL from West Dorset has been crowned Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year.

Ele Saltmarsh, 17, pictured, scooped first prize in the Amnesty International Youth Awards, beating 7,000 entrants from across the UK.

The Woodroffe pupil, who lives in Wootton Fitzpaine, chose to write about the forced eviction of a Kenyan tribe.

She received her award from competition judge Charlie Blake at a ceremony in London on Wednesday which was hosted by Nick Bright from Radio 1Xtra.

She wrote about forced evictions after meeting the Sengwer tribe at an indigenous people’s conference in 2000 with mum Jyoti.

After beating 7,000 other entries, Ele headed to Amnesty International’s central London headquarters for the ceremony.

Ele said: “I’m extremely surprised. I really never expected to win.

“I wrote about an issue which had a lot of immediacy in the news – forced evictions in Kenya.

“I was so shocked by the story that I wrote my piece immediately and managed to get it into Amnesty only four hours before the awards deadline.

“I hope the article will put pressure on the Kenyan government to put right the human rights violations in the country.”

Ele said: “One of my favourite feelings is knowing that there are like-minded people fighting for the same cause as you.”

Jyoti added that she was ‘proud’ of her daughter’s achievement.

She said: “Both my daughter and I work together to fight for the rights of those who live on the land through an international peasants’ rights organisation called La Via Campesina.

“This summer we are planning to go to Kenya and hope to meet up with the Sengwer so we can learn from them about how they can work with the authorities to protect the forest and help them fight for their ancestral homeland.”

Director of arts at the Woodroffe School, Dot Wood said: “Ele is a true example of independent learning.”