Václav Havel Human Rights Prize
The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is an annual €60,000 award established in 2013 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation, to honour "outstanding" civil society action in defence of human rights, in Europe and beyond.
The prize 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. The Prize is one of a number that are awarded by different institutions of the Council of Europe.
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. 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.
Individuals, non-governmental organisations and institutions working to defend human rights can be nominated. The award is worth is €60,000, half of which comes from the Parliamentary Assembly while the other half is contributed by the Czech Foreign Ministry.
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. The event was hosted by the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg.
- 2018 – On 28 August 2018, it was announced that three candidates had been shortlisted for the 2018 prize: Cuban youth activist María Payá Acevedo; Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who is currently in prison; and Russian human rights defender Oyub Titiev, also currently in prison. The overall winner of the prize is due to be announced on 8 October 2018, at a special ceremony during the Parliamentary Assembly's autumn plenary session in Strasbourg.
- 2017 – Murat Arslan, 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.
- 2016 – Nadia Murad, 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.
- 2015 – Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a veteran Russian human rights defender, and current chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group.
- 2014 – Anar Mammadli, 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.
- 2013 – Ales Bialiatski, 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.
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.
- 2009 – British Irish Human Rights Watch (now known as Rights Watch UK), a British NGO, for its work to monitor the human rights dimension of the conflict in Northern Ireland and combat impunity in the region.
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 special page on the Assembly's website, in either of the two official languages of the Council of Europe, English or French. According to the Prize's regulations, 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 the award ceremony in Strasbourg.
- "Agreement on founding of international Václav Havel award for human rights was ratified". Czech Foreign Ministry. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
- Richter, Jan (26 March 2013). "Václav Havel award for human rights founded in Prague". Radio Praha. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
- "Assembly launches new €60,000 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize". Council of Europe. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
- AP (22 March 2013). "Vaclav Havel to Get Rights Award Named After Him". Retrieved 3 April 2013.