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16 December 2018

Front Line Defenders Awarded 2018 UN Human Rights Prize in the United Nations General Assembly and Launches Call to Free Imprisoned Human Rights Defenders

17 December 2018

[New York, NY] On 18 December, Front Line Defenders will be honored with the 2018 UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights at a ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York, alongside fellow Prize winners Ms. Asma Jahangir (Pakistan, awarded posthumously), Ms. Rebeca Gyumi (Tanzania), and Joênia Wapichana (Joênia Batista de Carvalho) (Brazil).

According to the United Nations, the UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights is “an honorary award given to individuals and organizations in recognition of outstanding achievement in human rights. It provides an opportunity to give public recognition to the achievements of the recipients themselves and to send a clear message to human rights defenders all over the world that the international community is grateful for, and supports, their efforts to promote all human rights for all. Previous winners have included Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Denis Mukwege, Malala Yousafzai, Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).”

Front Line Defenders will accept the prize  in honor of the thousands of human rights defenders at risk around the world struggling to defend the rights of their communities and will mark the occasion by launching a call to free imprisoned human rights defenders with the publication of a report, Set Them Free, documenting the cases of nine imprisoned human rights defenders held in Bahrain, Burundi, China, Eritrea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico and Vietnam.

“Front Line Defenders calls on governments to mark the 70th anniversary of the UDHR and the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders by freeing all human rights defenders currently in prison, including our former colleague Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja in Bahrain, and to put an end to the threats, harassment, defamation, criminalisation, torture and killings which human rights defenders face in too many countries,” writes Front Line Defenders Executive Director, Andrew Anderson, in the introduction to the report.

Mr. Anderson and Chair of the Front Line Defenders Board, Denis O’Brien, will be joined at the ceremony by Human Rights Defenders, including Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam (Sudan), Ms. Nurcan Baysal (Turkey) and Ms. Maryam Al-Khawaja (Bahrain), whose father Abdulhadi was the first Middle East & North Africa Protection Coordinator for the organisation and who is now imprisoned serving a life sentence in Bahrain for his human rights work. The delegation will also be joined by Ms. Hina Jilani, former UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders, who nominated Front Line Defenders for the Prize, and whose sister – Asma Jahangir – is also being recognized (posthumously) with the award.

On receiving news of being named one of this year’s winners, Mr. Anderson stated, “We are hugely honoured to receive this prize. In this year, the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, we must redouble our efforts to protect those who risk their lives in the pursuit of justice and dignity. This recognition will help Front Line Defenders bring attention to the important work human rights defenders undertake at great personal risk.”

In addition to the Prize ceremony, Front Line Defenders will be participating in panel discussion “Civil society: expanding our human rights influence,” chaired by UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour and will be honored at a reception hosted by the Norwegian Ambassador to the United Nations.

For more information or to arrange interviews with any member of the Front Line Defenders delegation, please contact:

Adam Shapiro
Head of Communications & Visibility