(New York) – Four courageous and tireless advocates for human rights have been selected as 2013 recipients of the prestigious Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, Human Rights Watch said today.
Hassan al-Amin from Libya, Alina Diaz from the United States, Jacqueline Moudeina from Chad, and Natalia Taubina from Russia are leading voices for justice in their countries, working relentlessly to protect the rights and dignity of others. They will join two past international recipients of the award as they are honored at the Human Rights Watch “Voices for Justice” annual dinners in 12 cities worldwide in November 2013 and another nine in March/April 2014.
“These human rights defenders speak out on behalf of some of the world’s most vulnerable people, often in dangerous and difficult circumstances,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “They show that courage and persistence can make a difference even during periods of conflict and violent transition.”
The award is named for Dr. Alison Des Forges, senior adviser at Human Rights Watch for almost two decades, who died in a plane crash in New York on February 12, 2009. Des Forges was the world’s leading expert on Rwanda, the 1994 genocide, and its aftermath. The Human Rights Watch annual award honors her outstanding commitment to, and defense of, human rights. It celebrates the valor of people who put their lives on the line to create a world free from abuse, discrimination, and oppression.
The recipients of Human Rights Watch’s 2013 Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism are:
Natalia Taubina, a Russian activist who works to protect victims of police abuse and bring transparency to law enforcement. Taubina runs Public Verdict, which provides free legal aid and rehabilitation support to victims of widespread police torture, corruption, and lack of effective investigations and other unlawful actions in Russia’s law enforcement system.
Alina Diaz, farmworker advocate and founding board member of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, which promotes the rights of female farmworkers in the United States.Diaz works to educate policymakers and the public about the dangers farmworker women face.
Hassan al-Amin, who has worked for three decades to expose human rights violations and promote democracy in Libya as an activist and founder of the independent website Libya al-Mostakbal. During the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, al-Amin documented abuses against civilians. He served in the transition parliament, then resumed running his website.
- Jacqueline Moudeina, a lawyer and a leader in the effort to bring to justice the former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre, who is facing trial in Senegal on charges of political killings, systematic torture, and “ethnic cleansing.”
Taubina and Diaz will be honored at dinners in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles; al-Amin at dinners in Chicago and Toronto; and Moudeina at dinners in Paris and Geneva.
Recipients of the 2012 award who will also be touring North America and Europe this year are:
Abbe Benoit Kinalegu, a Congolese priest and director of the Dungu-Doruma Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace, which exposes abuses committed by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army and works to rehabilitate its victims, traveling to London, Munich and Amsterdam.
- Consuelo Morales, director of Citizens in Support of Human Rights, based in Monterrey, which investigates abuses in Mexico’s “war on drugs” traveling to New York.
Human Rights Watch staff members work closely with human rights defenders during investigations in some 90 countries around the world. These activists will be honored at the 2013/2014 Voices for Justice Human Rights Watch annual dinners in Amsterdam, Beirut, Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, Frankfurt, Geneva, Kuwait City, London, Los Angeles, Munich, New York, Oslo, Paris, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Silicon Valley, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, and Zurich.
Alina Diaz, US
Alina Diaz is farmworker advocate and founding board member of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (National Alliance of Female Farmworkers), which works to promote the rights of female farmworkers in the United States.Hundreds of thousands of farmworker women and girls face a high risk of sexual violence and harassment at work on a daily basis. Diaz began her work as a community outreach educator traveling to immigrant communities to raise awareness about the right to report domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other mistreatment. Diaz has helped get the voices of farmworker women heard at the national level, where she works to educate policymakers and the public about the dangers these women face. Human Rights Watch honors Diaz for her dedication to ending the egregious abuses against farmworkers in the United States.
Hassan al-Amin, Libya
Hassan al-Amin has worked for three decades to expose human rights violations and promote democracy in Libya. After Muammar Gaddafi’s security forces arrested and beat him in 1983, al-Amin fled to the United Kingdom, where he founded the independent website Libya al-Mostakbal and became one of Libya’s most active dissidents in exile. In 2011, during the uprising against Gaddafi, al-Amin returned to his native Misrata, then under siege, to document human rights abuses. After Gaddafi’s fall he was elected to the transitional parliament. As chairman of the Human Rights and Civil Society Committee he investigated arbitrary arrests and the torture of prisoners, and criticized powerful anti-Gaddafi militias that refused to disarm. In March 2013, facing death threats from militias, al-Amin gave up his seat and returned to London, where he has resumed publication of Libya al-Mostakbal. Human Rights Watch honors al-Amin for his commitment to exposing abuses and protecting human rights in Libya.
Natalia Taubina, Russia
Natalia Taubina is a Russian activist who works to protect victims of police abuse and bring transparency to law enforcement. Taubina runs Public Verdict, founded in 2004 to provide free legal aid and rehabilitation support to victims of widespread police torture, corruption, and lack of effective investigations and other unlawful actions in Russia’s law enforcement system. Under Taubina’s leadership, Public Verdict has successfully worked for reforms that promote accountability. Taubina is a leading critic of the harsh crackdown on civil society since Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012. In response to the criticism, the authorities have been trying to shut down Public Verdict, which the organization is fighting in court. Human Rights Watch honors Taubina for her unwavering commitment to protecting victims of police abuse and fighting for justice in Russia.
Jacqueline Moudeina, Chad
Jacqueline Moudeina is leading the efforts to hold the exiled former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre accountable for atrocity crimes and to achieve justice for his victims in Chad. Despite being injured in an assassination attempt in 2001 Moudeina has pursued the charges, and earlier this year won an important victory when a special court in Senegal indicted the former dictator for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture and placed him in detention. Human Rights Watch honors Moudeina for her commitment to bringing justice to the victims of Habre and protecting human rights in Chad.
Abbe Benoit Kinalegu, Democratic Republic of Congo
Abbe Benoit Kinalegu exposes abuses committed by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and works to rehabilitate its victims. The LRA terrorizes citizens in central Africa by killing, raping, and abducting civilians, including children. Kinalegu helped establish an Early Warning Network to report suspected LRA activity via radio, and he also works on rehabilitation programs for LRA victims who have escaped. He has become a powerful voice urging the international community to bring LRA commanders to justice. Human Rights Watch honors Kinalegu for his commitment to protecting civilians and ending the threat posed by the LRA.
Consuelo Morales, Mexico
Consuelo Morales works in Mexico to defend victims of human rights violations and hold their abusers to account. Security forces have committed widespread violations against civilians – including torture, rape, and enforced disappearances – yet their crimes are virtually never investigated. In the face of persistent threats, Morales’ organization has led efforts in the state of Nuevo Leon to document these abuses, litigate key cases, and provide critical support for victims of both security forces and violent drug cartels. Human Rights Watch honors Morales for her courageous efforts to end impunity and aid victims of abuses in Mexico’s “war on drugs.”