Santorri Chamley

June 25, 2012

Journalist and documentary filmmaker based in London.


Santorri Chamley is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker specialising in human rights, equality and social justice issues particularly in Africa.
She has produced news and current affairs reportage for BBC2 Newsnight, Channel 4 and CNN International and written for The Guardian, Index On Censorship, New African and other publications.



In early June 2012, Santorri attended the kick-off of a historic, month-long protest march through several EU countries organised by the CSP75 undocumented workers collective in Paris.
She joined the workers and their leader, Anzoumane Sissoko as they marched through Hénin-Beaumont, a former coal-mining town in Northern France where Marine Le Pen’s far-right party is enjoying record support. She also accompanied them on their 17 miles march from Brussels (home of several major EU institutions) to Leuven, Belgium.

Santorri also interviewed Eric Fassin, a renowned sociology professor at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, whose research includes immigration in Europe.
Fassin believes that undocumented workers are an easy scapegoat for politicians:
“Basically, the government can say, ‘look we may not have been able to reduce unemployment or deliver the lower cost of living and higher salaries we promised. But we promised you that we’d expel 30,000 undocumented workers and look, we did it. So we’re successful.’ And the question of was it a good deal, should we really be doing this and is it desirable to expel 30,000 undocumented workers gets lost in the process. The only thing that’s remembered is that the targets were met.”


You can see part of Santorri Chamley’s work in the media gallery here bellow.




Why does immigration reporting matter today?

More and more people are crossing borders globally – as economic migrants in search of work, asylum seekers fleeing conflict and much more. When it comes to reporting on immigration, especially illegal immigration, the media is inundated with false, misleading and at times bizarre and racist stories. So there’s a real need for better and fair reporting on immigration.


What resources would you recommend on the topic?

– Websites:
Website of CSP75 undocumented workers. It features regularly updated info on their media-savvy campaign for mass legalization. – COMEDE is a French NGO. It provides vital healthcare for undocumented foreigners in France.
Its Paris clinic is based at the Kremlin Bicetre hospital. – official website of La CIMADE, a French NGO which works in French immigration detention centres and monitors conditions.  – website of La Cimade’s annual migration festival.
This year’s edition will be held from 5-11 November in Rabat, Morocco and 15 November to 2 December in various cities across France. It will feature personal testimonies, debates on immigration and host many engaging art forms including music and cinema.

– Films:
La Pirogue (2012) directed by Moussa Touré.
The film is a powerful topical drama which chronicles a group of West African immigrants who attempt perilous illegal crossing in a fishing boat to mainland Europe in search of work.
It illuminates the desperate and moving human stories behind lurid headlines about illegal immigration. The feature was screened in the Un certain Regard section at the Cannes film festival.
It is dedicated to the 5000 plus Africans who have died trying to cross to Europe in the last decade.


What makes an outstanding reporter?

Someone who has an interest in people and doesn’t set out with a preconceived idea of what the story might be. They’re a good listener with the sort of curiosity that kills cats and a genuine passion to know what’s happening. A good reporter is not afraid to knock on doors, has a good grasp of the topic and report it in a fair and accurate manner.


Who are your journalism inspirations?

The many men and women reporters out there who are risking their lives to cover the uncovered worldwide.
Many have been killed for exposing atrocities and human rights violations against the poor and powerless including women and children.


While on the ground, what is your most memorable anecdote?

There were many memorable ones.
They ranged from the unintentionally humorous to the poignant.
In Henin-Baumont, a young Roma gypsy woman approached one of the marching CSP75 undocumented workers with her hand outstretched.
“You can’t ask me for money he told her. “ I’m a Sans-Papiers, I’m the poorest of the poor don’t you know that?” he asked her.


What are your next projects?

Raising funds to complete Citizen X: The Sans Papiers Story. The documentary feature follows the remarkable story of Anzoumane Sissoko, a Paris-based Malian cleaner. He is leading a remarkable  resistance movement for undocumented workers against France’s hard-line immigration policy. Triggering a “David and Goliath” battle for mass legalization against the state’s immigration crackdown, he is determined to change French politicians’ minds. At stake is the fate of thousands of paperless men, women and their French-born children. I will also continue to report on immigration and other social and human rights stories.