(Munich) – A Roman Catholic priest who helps victims of a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo will be honored at the Human Rights Watch Voices for Justice Annual Dinner in Munich on November 12, 2013.
Abbé Benoît Kinalegu, Head of the Peace and Justice Commission of the Roman Catholic Church in northern Congo’s Haut-Uele District, is one of six human rights defenders from around the world being honored at the Human Rights Watch Annual Dinners for their work to protect the rights and dignity of others. There will be 12 dinners in November and another nine in March/April 2014 in cities around the world.
“Abbé Benoît Kinalegu works in one of the most dangerous places in the world under incredibly difficult conditions to help people who have been kidnapped and attacked by one of the world’s most brutal rebel groups,” said Wenzel Michalski, Germany director at Human Rights Watch. “We honor him for his tireless efforts on behalf of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”
Kinalegu exposes abuses committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and works to rehabilitate its victims. The LRA rebel group 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 abductees who have escaped. He has become a powerful voice urging the international community to bring LRA commanders to justice.
He is a recipient of the Human Rights Watch Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism. The award is named for Dr. Alison Des Forges, senior adviser to the Human Rights Watch Africa Division 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 celebrates the valor of people who put their lives on the line to create a world free from abuse, discrimination, and oppression.
The Munich dinner will be held on November 12 at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten.
Human Rights Watch staff members work closely with the human rights defenders as part of the organization’s research into some 90 countries around the world. The defenders will be honored at the fall 2013 Voices for Justice Human Rights Watch Annual Dinners in Amsterdam, Chicago, Geneva, London, Los Angeles, Munich, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Silicon Valley, and Toronto.