Human rights defenders from Ukraine, Nicaragua, Vietnam, South Africa and Kuwait were selected as finalists for the 2017 award.
Given annually, the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk honours the work of human rights defenders who courageously make an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights of their communities, often at great personal risk.
Emil Kurbedinov, Crimea/Ukraine
Emil Kurbedinov is a Crimean Tatar and human rights lawyer. Since the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Emil has been defending the persecuted Crimean Tatar minority, civil society activists and journalists. He also provides emergency response and documentation of rights violations during raids and searches of activists’ homes. In January 2017, masked representatives from Crimea's Centre for Counteracting Extremism abducted Emil and took him to a local directorate of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) for interrogation. A district court found him guilty of “propagandizing for extremist organisations” and sentenced him to ten days in detention.
Pham Thanh Nghien, Vietnam
Vietnamese blogger Pham Thanh Nghien spent four years in prison for her work publicising violations against and defending the rights of relatives of fishermen killed by Chinese patrols. Following her release, she was kept under house arrest, during which time she spearheaded numerous human rights campaigns and co-founded the renowned Vietnamese Bloggers’ Network. Nghien has had her home raided, been blocked from attending medical appointments, had a padlock placed on her door from the outside, and been refused a marriage certificate. Nghien has also survived numerous physical assaults aimed at stopping her powerful, peaceful work uncovering and publicising human rights violations in Vietnam.
Nonhle Mbuthuma, South Africa
Nonhle Mbuthuma has persisted in her struggle for land and environmental rights in South Africa's Eastern Cape despite assassination attempts, ongoing death threats and the murder of her colleague. She is a founder and current member of the Executive Committee of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, formed to unite community members in five villages of the Amadiba Tribal Authority region opposing destructive mining projects. In July 2016, Nonhle and other activists successfully forced the biggest shareholder in a titanium mining project to withdraw, but threats to activists continue as the community now fears the project will continue with funding from local “front” companies.
Abdulhakim Al Fadhli, Kuwait
Abdulhakim Al Fadhli is currently imprisoned for his peaceful activism on behalf of Kuwait's stateless Bedoon and other minority communities in Kuwait. The term Bedoon, meaning “without” in Arabic, refers to the community of stateless persons, native to Kuwait, who are prohibited from obtaining any official state documents including, but not limited to, birth, death and marriage certificates. Abdulhakim is currently serving a one-year prison sentence and faces deportation upon release. Throughout his imprisonment, he has protested and staged hunger strikes against the inhumane and unsanitary conditions in the Anbar 4 prison facility, where he has also been subjected to solitary confinement.
Francisca Ramírez Torres, Nicaragua
Human rights defender Francisca Ramírez Torres' children were attacked in attempt to stop her powerful work advocating against a destructive inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua. Francisca is the coordinator of the Council for the Defence of Land, Lake and Sovereignty, which educates communities on their rights, campaigns for the repeal of laws allowing land-grabbing. The proposed canal would displace thousands of small farmers and indigenous peoples, without respecting their right to free, prior and informed consent. Francisca has been detained, harassed, and had her home and family attacked for her peaceful resistance to this destructive canal project.
About the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk:
The annual Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk was established in 2005 to honour the work of a human rights defender who, through non-violent work, is courageously making an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, often at great personal risk to themselves.
The Award seeks to focus international attention on the human rights defender's work, thus contributing to the recipient’s personal security.
In 2014 the Al-Jazeera Media Network became the global media partner for the Front Line Defenders Award, giving much wider coverage of the ceremony and of the defender's work to a global audience.
The previous winners of the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk are:
2016 - Ana Mirian Romero, Honduras
2015 - Guo Feixiong, China
2014 - SAWERA, Pakistan
2013 - Biram Dah Abeid, Mauritania
2012 - Razan Ghazzawi, Syria
2011 - Joint Mobile Group, Russian Federation
2010 - Dr. Soraya Rahim Sobhrang, Afghanistan
2009 - Yuri Melini, Guatemala
2008 - Anwar Al-Bunni, Syria
2007 - Gégé Katana, Democratic Republic of Congo
2006 - Ahmadjan Madmarov, Uzbekistan
2005 - Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, Sudan