Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award celebrates the valor of individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others. Human Rights Watch collaborates with these courageous activists to create a world in which people live free of violence, discrimination, and oppression.
Sister Consuelo Morales works in Mexico to defend victims of human rights violations and hold their abusers accountable.
After years working with indigenous communities in Veracruz and street children in Mexico City, Morales returned to her native city of Monterrey, capital of Nuevo Leon state, in 1992 to find a community rife with abuses but without a human rights organization. She helped found Citizens in Support of Human Rights (Ciudadanos en Apoyo de Derechos Humanos, CADHAC) to fill that void and has led it ever since. For two decades, CADHAC has addressed a wide range of serious human rights problems in Nuevo León, from abuse in state-run orphanages to the forced displacement of people from their lands.
Since the Mexican government deployed the military in 2007 to combat violent drug cartels, human rights violations in Nuevo León have skyrocketed. Security forces have committed widespread abuses against civilians including killings, torture, and “disappearances,” yet virtually none of the soldiers and police responsible have been held accountable. Under Morales’s leadership, CADHAC has taken the lead in documenting these violations, litigating key cases, and spearheading public campaigns to demand justice. The organization has also provided critical assistance such as psychological treatment and support groups for victims of both the security forces and the cartels. Morales has assumed her leadership role at considerable risk, persevering despite repeated harassment and threats.
Human Rights Watch honors Sister Consuelo Morales for her courageous efforts to end impunity for security forces and aid victims of abuses in Mexico’s “war on drugs.”