Corinne Dufka

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Corinne Dufka
Born 1958
Nationality American
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
Occupation Photojournalist

Corinne Dufka (born 1958) is an award-winning American photojournalist, human rights researcher, criminal investigator, and social worker. She is the recipient of a MacArthur "genius grant" Fellowship. Dufka currently serves as Associate Director at Human Rights Watch and resides outside Baltimore, Maryland.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Dufka received a bachelor's degree from San Francisco State University in 1979. In 1984, she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a master's degree in social work.[2][3]


Social work[edit]

Following completion of her master's degree, Dufka worked as a humanitarian volunteer and social worker in Latin America. She volunteered with Nicaraguan refugees during the country's revolution, and with victims of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake.[1] She then moved to El Salvador as a social worker with the Lutheran church .[2][4] While in El Salvador, Dufka became close with local photojournalists, and was asked by the director of a local human rights organization to launch a program to document human rights abuses through photography. The director of the program was killed two weeks later, reportedly by death squads. Dufka's photos of his body ran in The New York Times, and she accepted the position.[2][4]


Dufka received her first contract as a photojournalist in 1989, with the Reuters news agency, covering the conflict in El Salvador. In 1992, she relocated to Sarajevo, where she covered the ethnic conflicts in the Balkans.[4] Dufka remained in the region until 1993, when the vehicle in which she was traveling encountered an anti-tank mine.[4] She was seriously injured, suffering facial lacerations, internal injuries, and ligament damage.[1]

Following three weeks of rehabilitation in London, Dufka returned to the field on assignment for Reuters in Mogadishu, Somalia.[1][4] She remained stationed in East Africa, covering much of the continent for the agency, including the Rwandan genocide. Her images from Rwanda were later used as evidence during the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.[1] She covered famine in Sudan, conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Liberian civil war, among others.[5]

Dufka identifies as a member of the "Bang Bang Club." The term, initially used to reference photojournalists working in South Africa's townships during apartheid, has also been applied more broadly to conflict photojournalists covering conflicts during the 1990s, especially those on the African continent.[5]

In 1998 Dufka went to Nairobi, Kenya to cover the bombing of the American Embassy. She arrived hours after the blast, and was deeply frustrated by 'missing the scoop.' Later, upon watching the news coverage of the attack, Dufka realized that she had lost “compassion” for the subjects of her work, and resolved to end her career as a photojournalist.[1][6]

Human rights[edit]

In 1999 Dufka left Nairobi to open a field office for Human Rights Watch in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where she documented human rights abuses associated with the country's ongoing civil war.[4][5] In 2002 she took a leave of absence to work as a criminal investigator for the Chief of Investigations and the Prosecutor for the United Nations' Special Court for Sierra Leone.[4]

In 2003, Dufka returned the United States. That same year she was awarded the MacArthur "genius grant" Fellowship for her journalistic and documentary work documenting the 'devastation' of Sierra Leone and the conflict's toll on human rights.[4][7] Dufka returned to West Africa in 2005 to lead the Human Rights Watch field office in Dakar, Senegal.[3] She is currently a senior researcher for the Africa division of Human Righs Watch, overseeing the organization's work on West Africa.

In 2012, Dufka testified before the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the armed conflict in northern Mali.[8]




  1. ^ a b c d e f "Conflict photographer: Corinne Dufka's humanitarian resolve". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  2. ^ a b c "TBS Superstation: Dying To Tell The Story Education Photo Background". Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  3. ^ a b "Corinne Dufka". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Courage in Journalism Award: Corinne Dufka, United States | IWMF". Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  5. ^ a b c "Telling the Story: Power and Responsibility in Documenting Human Rights Violations | Events | International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life | Brandeis University". Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  6. ^ Rainey, James (2011-04-23). "On the Media: War photographers change their focus". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  7. ^ "Corinne Dufka — MacArthur Foundation". Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  8. ^ "Testimony of Corinne Dufka before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on African Affairs". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2016-03-22. 

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