In 2012, ICIJ explored the developing black market for coltan, a mineral used in an array of electronic devices. Reporters in six countries combed government and court records and interviewed mining experts and brokers. The reporters also followed miners as they prospected for coltan in South America’s Amazon, in the border between Venezuela and Colombia, where they face cross-border smugglers and must deal with violent drug traffickers and paramilitaries.
Skin and Bone was an eight-month investigation into the trade of human tissue for medical purposes. Inquiries were conducted across 11 countries and the project was co-researched with National Public Radio and Newsday (USA), the Kiev Post (Ukraine), The Daily Slovakia (Slovakia) and La Voce della Repubblica Ceca (Czech Republic). After publication, RTI Biologics, one of the biggest firms in the global trade in human tissue, suspended its partnership with suppliers in Ukraine, where authorities have carried out multiple investigations over allegations of illegal tissue recovery. The Pentagon and Congress also announced plans for more oversight of contracts with human tissue suppliers.
ICIJ released the third part of its Looting the Seas series, an award-winning project looking at forces that are rapidly emptying the oceans of fish. Working with Le Monde (France), theInternational Herald Tribune, El Mundo (Spain) andTrouw (The Netherlands), ICIJ reporters ranged from New Zealand’s South Island to the top of Norway and from ramshackle wharves in Chile and Peru to carpeted offices in Brussels and Hong Kong. They conducted more than 100 interviews; filed freedom of information requests in the European Union, Peru and the Netherlands; and analyzed more than 100,000 catch and inspection records.
ICIJ ended 2012 with Secrecy for Sale, a multi-year project aiming to strip away the biggest mystery associated with tax havens: the owners of anonymous companies. The first installment was a collaboration with The Guardian and the BBC and focused on Britain — one of the centers of the offshore industry.