Posts Tagged ‘digest of human rights awards and laureates’

Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko shot dead in eSwatini

January 23, 2023

On 22 January 2023 Freedom Under Law (FUL) said that the news that eSwatini human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko has been gunned down in cold blood comes as no surprise. The eSwatini government said Maseko was brutally shot and killed by unknown criminals at his home in Mbabane on Saturday night. See: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/03464020-c1e6-11ea-a3f7-933e766692a6

A ceaseless and fearless human rights lawyer, an outspoken critic of the regime in his beloved eSwatini, Thulani had all too long suffered at the hands of a heedless regime. But he lived by the motto: ‘My head is bloody, but unbowed … I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul’.

“Sadly, and to the shame of those engaged in the administration of justice in his country, all too often he was a lone beacon of light,” FUL chair judge Johann Kriegler said. He said no-one could be misled by the cynical message of condolence put out on behalf of the eSwatini government.

His passing has not only left his family bereft of a loved one; his country has been left the poorer, its human rights conscience brutally stifled.

FUL said in paying tribute to Maseko that it respectfully suggested it would be fitting if the Law Society of eSwatini were to mark his passing by observing January 21 every year as a day of mourning his death and rededication to the rule of law. “To his widow and family we express our grateful condolences. They have paid a bitter price on behalf of all who try to serve the principles for which their dear one lived.

According to the eSwatini government, Maseko was shot by “unknown criminals”. “[His] demise is a loss to the nation, and his footprints as a human rights lawyer are there as proof of his contributions to the country. He will be surely missed,” it said in a statement.  Spokesperson Alpheous Nxumalo said the country’s security forces had assured the government that they were already at work looking for the killers and would not rest until they have been brought to book. “Government also wants to warn against speculations and insinuations, peddled particularly on social media platforms in instances like these. Again, government distinctively disassociates… and the country’s authorities from these heinous acts.”

Maseko chaired the Multi-Stakeholders Forum, a collaboration of political parties and civil society groups working to amplify calls for democratic reforms. 

In 2018, Maseko took Swaziland’s King Mswati III to court for changing the country’s name. He had argued that the resources to be channelled to the name change should rather go towards improving living standards of the poor, according to reports by City Press. In 2014, Maseko was sentenced to two years in prison, with the editor of news magazine The Nation, Bheki Makhubu, for contempt of court over articles critical of the government and judiciary. The Nation published articles co-authored by the two men which were critical of the chief justice and suggested that he may have abused his powers. See also: https://lawyersforlawyers.org/en/lawyers/thulani-maseko/

A very impressive group of NGOs and individuals co-signed a statement condemning his killing: https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/eswatini-condemnation-of-assassination-of-renowed-hrd-thulani-maseko

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2023-01-22-human-rights-lawyer-thulani-masekos-murder-is-no-surprise-says-freedom-under-law/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2023/01/25/eswatini-activist-rights-lawyer-brutally-killed

https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/human-rights-lawyer-thulani-maseko-shot-dead-outside-home-in-eswatini-20230122

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-thulani-maseko

Breaking news: Laureates of the MEA for 2023 announced

January 19, 2023

Today the three Martin Ennals Award Laureates 2023 were announced !

The 2023 Laureates — Delphine Djiraibé (Chad), Feliciano Reyna (Venezuela), and Khurram Parvez (Jammu and Kashmir) — have each dedicated over 30 years of their lives to building movements which brought justice for victims, accountability from leaders, or medicines to the marginalized. They have made human rights real for thousands of people in their communities, despite the ongoing, sometimes life-threatening, challenges they endure.  For more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/043F9D13-640A-412C-90E8-99952CA56DCE

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Delphine Kemneloum Djiraibé was one of the first female lawyers in Chad and a pioneer of the human rights movement in one of the poorest countries in the world, fraught with corruption and human rights abuses. Convinced that her role is to “challenge the power”, Delphine has advocated on behalf of victims and the democratic process for over 30 years. She was a key figure in bringing the former dictator Hissène Habré to justice. Djiraibé heads the non-governmental organisation Public Interest Law Center (PILC), which trains volunteers and accompanies citizens seeking justice for violations of their rights. In recent years she has been particularly active in combating gender-based violence and is in the process of establishing the first women’s counselling center in Chad, which will include an emergency shelter for women affected by domestic violence. See also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/5B701F71-12FD-B713-9F99-5E09B9AFD6DA

After the death of his partner Rafael from AIDS in 1995, Feliciano Reyna, then an architect, founded Acción Solidaria to provide much needed medication and treatment to Venezuelans living with HIV & AIDS. Feliciano and Acción Solidaria began advocating for access to health for the marginalised LGBTQI population in a country where healthcare was on the decline and corruption on the rise. They created the first national AIDS Help Line in Venezuela and ran a national awareness campaign on HIV & AIDS, which aired on TV and in movie theaters, and received radio and magazine coverage. Feliciano Reyna went on to found CODEVIDA, a coalition of Venezuelan organisations promoting the rights of Venezuelan citizens to health and life. As he put it: “We walked directly into the complex humanitarian emergency in Venezuela”. Despite ongoing threats, since 2006, he has worked closely with UN mechanisms to defend human rights in his country. In 2019 his advocacy was instrumental in establishing the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela. 

At the age of 13, when Khurram Parvez witnessed the shooting of his grandfather during a protest demonstration against the molestation of women outside his house in Kashmir, he chose to “not incite violence and become part of some revenge” , but rather to become a “nonviolent activist“. He founded the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and is the Chair of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances. For 15 years he has travelled to the most remote parts of the region to sit with victims of abuse, collect documentation and report on their stories. Under his leadership, the JKCCS has been highly effective in translating the protections guaranteed in international human rights law into local realities. Despite continued attacks on his right to freedom of expression by the Indian government, being jailed in 2016 and losing a leg to landmines, Khurram relentlessly spoke the truth and was an inspiration to civil society and the local population. In November 2021, he was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on politically motivated charges. He remains detained without trial in India.  See also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/81468931-79AA-24FF-58F7-10351638AFE3

You can watch them take questions from the press at the Club Suisse de la Presse, livestreamed on February 14th, 2023 from 12h CET.

A celebration of the Laureates 2023 will take place on 16 February at the Salle communale de Plainpalais in Geneva, at 6:30pm. The event is open to the public and livestreamed from the Martin Ennals Foundation’s website and Facebook page. Sign-up to the Ceremony

Nominations for RAFTO prize 2023 now open

January 5, 2023
Call for nominations 1 1

The Rafto Prize encourages everyone with an interest in or knowledge of human rights to make a nomination. Annual deadline is 1 February. For more on this and similar awards, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/A5043D5E-68F5-43DF-B84D-C9EF21976B18

Criteria

  • A candidate should be active in the struggle for the ideals and principles underlying the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • A candidate’s struggle for human rights should represent a non-violent perspective.
  • A candidate may be a person or an organization, and two or more candidates may share the prize.

Who can nominate?

Anyone with an interest in and knowledge about human rights is welcome to nominate candidates. Candidates nominated by themselves or by their staff or by honorary officers will not be taken into consideration.

Deadline for nominations: 1 February.
Nominations received after 1 February will be taken into consideration for the Rafto Prize the following year.

Who makes the decision?

Nominations for the Rafto Prize are received and evaluated by the Prize Committee. Recipient(s) is selected by the Board of Directors.

When is the announcement the Rafto Prize?

Each year we announce the recipient of the Rafto Prize in the end of September at a press conference at the Rafto House in Bergen. The announcement is live streamed on our website and on Facebook.

For questions regarding nominations, please contact the Secretary of the Committee, Liv Unni Stuhaug, livunni.stuhaug@rafto.no

Nominate a candidate

Save the date: Martin Ennals Award Ceremony 2023

December 19, 2022

The Martin Ennals Award Ceremony in 2023 will take place on 16 February, 2023 at 18:30 CET. 
The Ceremony will be organized together with the City of Geneva, in a hybrid format.
Please note that entry to the usual venue, the salle communale de Plainpalais in Geneva, is on a
first-come, first-served basis.  

The Ceremony will also be livestreamed from Geneva to worldwide locations on our website and Facebook page.
Detailed information on the Ceremony will follow shortly. See more on this award: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/043F9D13-640A-412C-90E8-99952CA56DCE

On January 19th, 2023 at 12:00 CET the MEA will announce the Laureates 2023.

Front Line Defenders Award for human rights defenders at risk 2023: call for nominations

December 2, 2022

Front Line Defenders is currently accepting nominations for the 2023 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk:

award banner

For more this annual award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/2E90A0F4-6DFE-497B-8C08-56F4E831B47D

Starting in 2018, Front Line Defenders changed the format of the Award, naming 5 Regional Award Winners, with one chosen as the Global Laureate by a jury comprised of representatives of Ireland’s parliament from a number of political parties. In 2021, Front Line Defenders took the decision to name all 5 regional winners as Global Laureates, in response to the overwhelming positive response to the greater visibility and recognition of the winners of the Award.

For each region of the world (Africa; Americas; Asia-Pacific; Europe & Central Asia; and Middle East & North Africa) there will be one winner selected and Front Line Defenders will recognize all five as the 2023 Front Line Defenders Award Laureates.

The nomination process is open for anyone to submit a nomination of a human rights defender, collective, organisation or community working on any human rights issue and facing significant risk due to their work or operating in an environment that itself is characterised as insecure. The purpose of the Award is to give visibility to HRDs who are not normally acknowledged or recognised at the international level. At the same time, the Award should not bring additional risk for which the HRD is not prepared. In addition to the Award, winners will receive:

  • a modest financial prize;
  • a security grant to improve their security measures;
  • collaboration with Front Line Defenders for media work in recognition of the Award;
  • advocacy by Front Line Defenders related to the Award and the work of the winners;
  • an event co-organized by the HRD, local partners and Front Line Defenders to give visibility to the Award in the winners’ countries (as determined and guided by the winners);
  • the Global Laureates will attend a ceremony in Dublin at a date to be determined;
  • ongoing security consultation with Front Line Defenders

If you would like to nominate a HRD for the 2023 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, please follow this link to the secure online nomination form

2023 Front Line Defenders Award – Nomination Form

As the person, group or organisation making the nomination, you will be consulted by Front Line Defenders to verify the information submitted and possibly for additional information. Please complete all parts of the nomination form to the best of your ability. Please submit nominations via the online form. If there are any problems using the form, or if you have any questions, please contact: award@frontlinedefenders.org

Deadline for nominations: 13 January 2023

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/call-nominations-2023-front-line-defenders-award-human-rights-defenders-risk

MEA laureate AbdulHadi Al-Khawaja facing new charges for protesting injustice in Jau Prison

November 29, 2022

There seems to b no end to the persecution of AbdulHadi AlKhawaja, the 2022 laureate of the Martin Ennals Award [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/4d45e316-c636-4d02-852d-7bfc2b08b78d]

On Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain strongly denounced new charges brought against this dual Bahraini-Danish citizen, who is serving a life sentence at Jau Prison for his participation in the 2011 pro-democracy demonstrations. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/09/12/bahrain-travails-of-a-family-of-human-rights-defenders/

In November 2022, AlKhawaja informed his family that authorities are bringing four new charges against him for his protests against the harsh conditions which he and other political prisoners have been subjected to in Jau prison.

On 16 November, the Second Lower Criminal Court scheduled a hearing on the first of these new charges for an incident in November 2021 when authorities denied his right to call his daughters. However, the court postponed this hearing until 28 November on the grounds that Al-Khawaja needed to perform a power of attorney, something which he was going to do in-person during the hearing. A lieutenant attempted to pressure and threatened Al-Khawaja into recording a video stating that he was refusing to attend the hearing. Nevertheless, Al-Khawaja  refused and repeatedly stated on camera his desire to attend the hearing. He was then transferred back to his cell.

The second charge against him is for insulting a public servant and criticizing a foreign state (Israel) in March 2022 when Al-Khawaja led a peaceful protest inside the prison. He was chanting his opposition to the normalization of relations between Bahrain and Israel, as well as insulting a public servant, who allegedly tortured one of his cellmates. The hearing for this charge was set for 21 November. Prior to the hearing, authorities denied him the every-other-day calls with his lawyer. This hearing was also postponed and while the judge stated that AlKhawaja refused to attend, has not presented any evidence to AlKhawaja’s attorney to support this claim. AlKhawaja has informed his daughter that he wanted to attend.

The third charge, by far the most serious, is a charge of incitement to overthrow or change the regime, and relates to an incident in July 2022 when AlKhawaja was scheduled to attend a medical appointment for treatment on his back. During this appointment, authorities insisted on shackling his feet and hands during transfer and putting him in a small bus with no ventilation, creating conditions like an oven. In response, AbdulHadi started protesting and chanting “Down with the Interior Minister ” holding him accountable for his mistreatment and torture.

The fourth and final charge relates to the protest against the ill-treatment of a fellow inmate and is expected in the coming days.

In addition to these charges and violations, AlKhawaja was already suffering the unceasing legal and bodily violations of prison authorities since his arrest 12 years ago. In addition to inhumane restrictions and property confiscation, authorities have systematically used medical negligence as a form of reprisal against AlKhawaja’s activism. He has been denied proper medical treatment which has significantly contributed to the deterioration of his health. He suffers from back pain and vision impairment which were exacerbated by the extreme torture he endured during interrogations by security officers, as well as magnesium deficiency and leg spasms. In response to this treatment, AlKhawaja has gone on multiple hunger strikes and protests with his fellow inmates against the dehumanizing and unjust treatment by authorities.

These charges clearly demonstrate how prison authorities are trying to silence all dissent against their systematic repression of pro-democracy Bahrainis. Many organizations and individuals have condemned these charges because they set a dangerous precedent.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/01/27/over-100-ngos-write-to-prime-minister-of-denmark-to-pressure-bahrain-to-release-abdul-hadi-al-khawaja/

Call for nominations for the Arthur Svensson prize

October 20, 2022

Representatives and employees of trade unions throughout the world are free to nominate candidates for next year’s  Arthur Svensson international prize for trade union rights. 

For more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/5c06a870-6053-11e9-aa6c-87381bf77969

The nominees will be judged on to what extent the person or organization has promoted union rights and/or union organizing in the world. More on the award here – https://www.svenssonstiftelsen.com/about

Deadline 1/1/2023.

For nominations please use this form – https://www.svenssonstiftelsen.com/nominate 

Nominations can also be sent with attachments to espen.loken@industrienergi.no

Today: the people of Ukraine win this year’s European Union Prize

October 19, 2022

The European Parliament on Wednesday 19 October awarded “the people of Ukraine” its annual Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought amid the ongoing war with Russia. For more on this award and its previous laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/BDE3E41A-8706-42F1-A6C5-ECBBC4CDB449

This award is for those Ukrainians fighting on the ground. For those who have been forced to flee. For those who have lost relatives and friends. For all those who stand up and fight for what they believe in. I know that the brave people of Ukraine will not give up and neither will we,” said Roberta Metsola, the European Parliament’s head.

EU Commission chief Ursula von Der Leyen congratulated the people of Ukraine and said: “Their spirit and determination to fight for the values we hold dear is an inspiration to us all.”

At (the EU Council) we’ll focus on continuing our assistance; we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” European Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter.

Last year: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/10/21/alexei-navalny-wins-eus-sakharov-prize/

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20221017IPR43706/the-ukrainian-people-awarded-the-european-parliament-s-2022-sakharov-prize

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/ukrainian-people-awarded-eus-sakharov-prize-for-freedom-of-thought/2715666

Angela Merkel wins UNHCR’s Nansen Award for protecting refugees at height of Syria crisis

October 11, 2022

Angela Merkel, the former Federal Chancellor of Germany, accepted the 2022 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award at a special ceremony in Geneva on Monday night, 10 October, saying the prize was in honour of “the countless people who lent a hand” when large numbers of refugees arrived in Europe in 2015 and 2016.  

She has won several other human rights awards: see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/582C2D4E-FDD9-9C1D-40F3-64DE01C2F46E

Merkel had been selected as the latest recipient of the Nansen Refugee Award for her efforts to welcome more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers into Germany between 2015 and 2016, at the height of the conflict in Syria and amid deadly violence in countries around the world. The selection committee hailed Merkel’s “leadership, courage and compassion in ensuring the protection of hundreds of thousands of desperate people” as well as her efforts to find “viable long-term solutions” for those seeking safety.

By helping more than a million refugees to survive and rebuild, Angela Merkel displayed great moral and political courage,” Grandi the UN high commissioner for refugees, said. Presenting the award to Angela Merkel, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told the former Chancellor: “You demonstrated indeed vision, courage and fortitude. And you demonstrated a moral compass which not only guided your work and the actions of your country, but it showed the way for so many of us in Europe and in the world.”

Speaking at the time, the then chancellor said it was a situation “which put our European values to the test as seldom before. It was no more and no less than a humanitarian imperative.”

For more the Nansen Refugee Award and similar awards for refugee work see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/CC584D13-474F-4BB3-A585-B448A42BB673

Also honoured during the ceremony in Geneva’s Haute école d’art et de design (HEAD) were the four regional winners for 2022. For Africa, the leader of the Mbera Fire Brigade in Mauritania, Ahmedou Ag Albohary, accepted the award in recognition of the refugee volunteers’ bravery in fighting bushfires and protecting the local environment, while former midwife Vicenta González was honoured for nearly 50 years of service to displaced and vulnerable people in Costa Rica.

https://www.unhcr.org/news/stories/2022/10/6345384a4/merkel-says-nansen-prize-honours-welcome-refugees.html

Meet Ales Bialiatski, Nobel Peace Prize 2022

October 8, 2022

True Heroes Films (THF) has published a timely portrait of Ales Bialiatski, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2022, drawn from an in-depth interview with him at the Paris Summit for Human Rights Defenders in Paris, October 2018.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/10/07/nobel-peace-prize-2022-goes-to-well-recognised-human-rights-defenders/