Dorset teen Ele Saltmarsh wins human rights award for reporting the plight of a Kenyan tribe

AMNESTY AWARD: Human rights reporter Ele Saltmarsh

AMNESTY AWARD: Human rights reporter Ele Saltmarsh

First published in News
Last updated
Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by

THE passion – and intellectual rigour – of a 17-year-old West Dorset schoolgirl saw her win the Amnesty International Human Rights Reporter of the Year.

Woodroffe School pupil Ele Saltmarsh of Five Penny Farm, Wootton Fitzpaine, wrote about the forced eviction of a Kenyan tribe but it wasn’t the lure of the prize that inspired her to enter.

She wanted to publicise the plight of the Sengwer tribe and thought the best way to tell their story was through the prize.

She said: “I didn’t expect to win but I thought the competition was really a way of getting the news out there quickly. It was about highlighting what was going on rather than winning the prize.”

But once she got to the ceremony in London she wanted to win.

“Once I got to the ceremony I did want to win just because the Sengwer people had given me a message to give to Amnesty.

“They just wanted me to pass on their thanks to Amnesty for giving me the support and spreading the news and they wanted to say that it had given them hope.”

Ele was so shell-shocked to have won she barely took in the reasons but thinks it was because she suggested a solution instead of just highlighting the issue.

She said: “It was a very short piece but I managed to get in the information but also wrote about what could be done to solve it instead of just saying, this is the issue and it is bad.

“The evictions are being done in the name of conservation to reduce emissions – which I am for because I am a conservationist – but they are evicting these people who are actually the ideal stewards of the forest so I was saying go ahead relocate the settlers who are causing emissions but indigenous tribes should be able to live in harmony with the forest and manage it as they have done for generations.”

Ele, who is doing AS levels in biology, chemistry, maths, further maths and environmental science, and mum Jyoti are going to visit the Kenyan tribe this summer.

They hope to be able to help them with their fight to stay on the land.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree