Václav Havel Human Rights Prize

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The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is an annual €60,000 award which honours "outstanding" civil society action in defence of human rights, in Europe and beyond.[1][2] Individuals, non-governmental organisations and institutions working to defend human rights anywhere in the world may be nominated. Seven of the ten winners to date were in detention because of their human rights activities at the time they received the prize.

History[edit]

The award was established in 2013 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation[3][4] and is awarded in memory of Václav Havel, former President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. It replaces the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Human Rights Prize, which was created in 2009 and awarded every two years.[1] The prize is one of a number that are awarded by different institutions of the Council of Europe[5] and should not be confused with the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent, with which it has no connection.

The prize is decided by a jury consisting of the President of the Parliamentary Assembly and six independent personalities with expertise in human rights issues. The jury draws up a shortlist of three nominees in September each year, before deciding on an overall winner in October. The prize is awarded at a special ceremony which takes place during the autumn plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg.[6] The former Czech First Lady, Dagmar Havlová, is invited to attend. Each year, the Václav Havel Library organises a conference in Prague in honour of the prizewinner.

The agreement on the creation of the award was signed at the Czernin Palace in Prague on March 25, 2013 by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Jean-Claude Mignon, Marta Smolíková for the Václav Havel Library and Professor František Janouch for the Charta 77 Foundation.[6] The event was hosted by the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg.[7] Half of the €60,000 prize is contributed by the Parliamentary Assembly and half by the Czech Foreign Ministry.

Prizewinners[edit]

Year Prizewinner(s) Image Citizenship(s) Commentary Source(s)
2013 Ales Bialiatski Ales Bialiatski Belarus A Belarusian human rights activist, and founder of the Viasna Human Rights Centre. As he was in prison at the time of the award, the Prize was received on his behalf by his wife Natallia Pinchuk. He was subsequently released.
2014 Anar Mammadli Anar Mammadli Azerbaijan An Azerbaijani human rights defender who founded an organisation for the independent monitoring of elections in Azerbaijan. As he was in prison at the time of the award, the Prize was received on his behalf by his father Asaf. He was subsequently released.
2015 Lyudmila Alexeyeva Lyudmila Alexeyeva Russia A veteran Russian human rights defender, and for many years chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group.
2016 Nadia Murad Nadia Murad Iraq A Yazidi human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee who was herself kidnapped by ISIS in northern Iraq, kept in slavery and abused until she managed to escape.
2017 Murat Arslan Murat Arslan Turkey A leading judicial figure in Turkey who headed an independent body representing judges and prosecutors, and a strong advocate of the independence of the judiciary in his country. As he was in prison at the time of the award, the Prize was received on his behalf by a representative of the European magistrates' body MEDEL.
2018 Oyub Titiev Oyub Titiev Russia A Russian human rights defender, head of the Grozny office of the Russian human rights organisation Memorial. As Mr Titiev was in prison at the time of the award, it was received on his behalf by Aleksandr Cherkasov, Chairman of the Board of Memorial, and presented to him later in prison by supporters. [8]
2019 Ilham Tohti Ilham Tohti China An Uyghur university lecturer and economist serving a life sentence since 2014 on separatism-related charges [9][10]
Youth Initiative for Human Rights Youth Initiative for Human Rights Balkans A network of autonomous non-governmental organizations which brings together young people from different ethnic groups in the Balkans to promote reconciliation [11]
2020 Loujain al-Hathloul Loujain al-Hathloul Saudi Arabia A Saudi Arabian women's rights activist [12][13]
2021 Maria Kalesnikava Maria Kalesnikava Belarus A Belarusian opposition leader and activist. As she is currently in prison in Belarus, the Prize was received on her behalf by her sister, Tatsiana Khomich. [14][15][16]

Winners of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Human Rights Prize, which preceded the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize:

  • 2011 – Committee against Torture (Komitet Protiv Pytok), a Russian NGO, for its work to assist victims of serious human rights abuses in Russia, and to conduct independent investigations alongside official state investigations, notably in the Chechen Republic.[17]
  • 2009 – British Irish Human Rights Watch (now known as Rights Watch UK[18]), a British NGO, for its work to monitor the human rights dimension of the conflict in Northern Ireland and combat impunity in the region.[19]

Nomination procedure[edit]

An annual "call for candidates" is issued in January each year. At least five "sponsors" must nominate candidates for the Prize, ahead of an annual deadline, normally fixed for the end of April. Nominations are made online, via a page[20] on the Assembly's website, in either of the two official languages of the Council of Europe, English or French. According to the prize regulations,[21] sponsors must give details of the candidate's work to defend human rights, and provide supporting documentation. Three candidates are shortlisted in September, with the final selection being made in October, just ahead of an award ceremony in Strasbourg.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Assembly launches new €60,000 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize". Council of Europe. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  2. ^ AP (22 March 2013). "Vaclav Havel to Get Rights Award Named After Him". Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  3. ^ "Agreement on founding of international Václav Havel award for human rights was ratified". Czech Foreign Ministry. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  4. ^ Richter, Jan (26 March 2013). "Václav Havel award for human rights founded in Prague". Radio Praha. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  5. ^ "Awards and competitions". www.coe.int.
  6. ^ a b Richter, Jan (26 March 2013). "Václav Havel award for human rights founded in Prague". Radio Praha. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Agreement on founding of international Václav Havel award for human rights was ratified". Czech Foreign Ministry. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  8. ^ "PACE: News". assembly.coe.int.
  9. ^ "Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize awarded to Ilham Tohti". www.dw.com. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  10. ^ "Jailed Uygur dissident Ilham Tohti wins top European human rights prize". www.scmp.com. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Human Rights Prize". www.assembly.coe.int.
  12. ^ Nadim Aburakia, Marcel (19 April 2021). "Loujain Al-Hathloul wins Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize". Deutsche Welle.
  13. ^ Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. "Focus on women's rights as three candidates shortlisted for the 2020 Václav Havel Prize".
  14. ^ 2021 Václav Havel Prize awarded to Belarusian human rights activist Maria Kalesnikava
  15. ^ "Vaclav-Havel-Preis geht an belarussische Oppositionelle Kolesnikowa - neue musikzeitung". nmz (in German). Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  16. ^ Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. "Three candidates shortlisted for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2021".
  17. ^ "PACE: News". assembly.coe.int.
  18. ^ "Homepage | Rights and Security International". www.rightsandsecurity.org. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  19. ^ "PACE: News". assembly.coe.int.
  20. ^ http://website-pace.net/en_GB/web/apce/vaclav-havel-human-rights-prize[dead link]
  21. ^ http://website-pace.net/documents/10643/2019145/VHP-regulation-2016-en.pdf/139aede3-ddd5-4762-8191-46df2ee9eda1[dead link]

External links[edit]