Front Line Defenders announces winners of 2023 Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk
Front Line Defenders announced the five winners of its top distinction, the 2023 Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, at a special ceremony in Dublin this morning. Laureates from each of the major global regions traveled to Ireland to accept the Award, including:
- Africa: Olivier Bahemuke Ndoole (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
- Americas: Segundo Ordóñez (Ecuador)
- Asia and the Pacific: Jeany ‘Rose’ Hayahay (Philippines)
- Europe and Central Asia: Digital Security Lab Ukraine, represented by DSLU Executive Director Vita Volodovska (Ukraine)
- Middle East and North Africa: Hala Ahed (Jordan)
“This year’s laureates are a courageous and inspiring group of people who reflect the determination, dynamism and diversity of human rights defenders (HRDs) who are on the front lines of fighting for a more just world,” said Olive Moore, Interim Director of Front Line Defenders.
“Their vital work in defense of human rights in DRC, Ecuador, Jordan, Philippines and Ukraine impacts countless people in their communities and beyond. By shining an international spotlight on their struggles and empowering them to continue their work, we at Front Line Defenders hope this Award will touch the lives of many more people on whose behalf they act.”
The Annual Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk was established in 2005 to honour the work of HRDs who are courageously making outstanding contributions to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, often at great personal risk to themselves.The Award focuses international attention on the work and struggles of HRDs, providing a greater national and international platform to speak about and advocate for the human rights issues they are defending. Laureates are selected from among scores of candidates put forward in a secure, public nomination process carried out in December and January each year. In addition to a cash prize and protection grant, the winners receive support from Front Line Defenders on digital and physical security, advocacy, visibility, well-being and more. The organisation will be posting short videos and a photo booklet about the work and impact of this year’s awardees.
The laureates received the Award at a ceremony in EPIC – The Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin, which was attended by foreign diplomats and representatives of Irish government, civil society and media organisations. Irish parliamentary patrons for the Award included: Senator Róisín Garvey, Charlie Flanagan TD, Cormac Devlin TD, Ivana Bacik TD, and Sean Crowe TD.
Watch a video about the 2023 Award winners
The 2023 Front Line Defenders Award winners
Olivier Bahemuke Ndoole (Democratic Republic of the Congo) is a leader among environmental and land defenders in DRC and one of the most trusted advocates on behalf of communities impacted by land grabs, trafficking, and illegal resource extraction activities. He is also the only advocate who organises judicial training and capacity-building sessions for DRC citizens on topics related to environment and community rights in Goma, eastern DRC.
Segundo Ordóñez (Ecuador), an Afro-descendant human rights defender, is one of the most visible faces and the community representative in the two legal proceedings brought against the Japanese-owned company Furukawa Plantaciones C. A. and the State of Ecuador. The cases have focused on how workers on abacá (Manila hemp) plantations suffer labour exploitation as they farm the raw materials in slavery-like conditions.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
Jeany 'Rose' Hayahay (Philippines) is a woman human rights defender based in Mindanao, the Philippines. Since 2019, she has been the spokesperson of the Save Our Schools Network (SOS Network), a coalition of child-focused NGOs, church-based groups and other stakeholders advocating for children’s right to education in Mindanao.
EUROPE AND CENTRAL ASIA
Digital Security Lab Ukraine (Ukraine) is a team of specialists in the field of digital security and internet freedom. They help Ukrainian journalists, human rights defenders and public activists solve problems with digital security, as well as promote the realisation of human rights on the internet by influencing government policy in the field of digital rights.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
Hala Ahed (Jordan) is a Jordanian human rights lawyer who has worked with a number of human rights and feminist organisations to defend women’s rights, workers’ rights, and the freedoms of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly in Jordan.