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.
Currently director of Zimbabwe’s Center for Natural Resource Governance, Farai Maguwu has conducted extensive research documenting horrific abuses taking place in the Marange diamond fields. After the Marange fields were discovered in 2006, they were open to anyone, and illegal mining and smuggling flourished. Maguwu partnered with Human Rights Watch researchers to document beatings, torture, forced labor, and killings of local villagers in Marange at the hands of soldiers controlled by the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), the one-time ruling party that still controls security in the coalition government.
On May 27, 2010, two days after Maguwu met with a monitor from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (the world’s diamond control body) to discuss the abuses he uncovered in Marange, Zimbabwean authorities raided his home and offices, and arrested him on charges of providing false information about killings and torture by military officials at the mine. He was imprisoned for more than a month and denied medical care to punish him. The authorities then illegally transferred him to various police cells with deplorable conditions even though he suffered from a serious health condition. Maguwu was released in early July and only finally cleared of all charges in October. His case helped generate international attention to the serious human rights violations taking place in Marange’s diamond fields and led to calls for the Zimbabwean government to remove its troops from Marange.
Human Rights Watch honors Farai Maguwu for his tremendous courage in exposing abuses in Zimbabwe’s diamond fields and working to end rampant violations of human rights throughout the region.