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Hala Al-Dosari (L), and Ivan Pavlov. © 2017 Ann Lang Mun Co; © 2017 Alexey Spirin

(New York, January 30, 2018) – Two courageous and tireless advocates for human rights are the 2018 recipients of the prestigious Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, Human Rights Watch said today.

The winners, leading voices for justice in their countries, Hala Al-Dosari, a prominent women’s rights activist in Saudi Arabia, and Ivan Pavlov, a lawyer and activist who has dedicated his career to defending people accused of high treason and espionage in Russia.

“The Alison Des Forges Award honors people who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to defending the dignity and rights of others,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The honorees work tirelessly and courageously to stand up for justice, often in the face of danger and at great personal sacrifice.”

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 State on February 12, 2009. Des Forges was the world’s leading expert on the 1994 Rwanda 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 2018 honorees will be honored at the Voices for Justice Human Rights Watch Annual Dinners, held in more than 20 cities worldwide.

Al-Dosari will be honored in Miami and New York, and Pavlov in Zurich and Sydney.

For more information about the recipients, please read below or visit:


About the Recipients

Hala Al-Dosari, Saudi Arabia
Hala Al-Dosari is a Saudi human rights activist, scholar, and prominent blogger known for speaking out against the country’s deeply entrenched discrimination against women and girls. Al-Dosari pushes her government to address gender equality and the right of activists, including women, to speak, protest, and write freely. As one of the leading voices for gender reform, she serves as an inspiration to women in Saudi Arabia and beyond. Human Rights Watch honors Hala Al-Dosari for her tireless advocacy demanding equal rights for women and supporting women who face violence and discrimination.

Ivan Pavlov, Russia
Ivan Pavlov is a human rights lawyer and activist in Russia, defending those in his country wrongly accused by security services of disclosing state secrets, high treason, and espionage. Pavlov has persevered against overwhelming odds, threats of violence, and government surveillance. Human Rights Watch honors Ivan Pavlov for his unwavering commitment to defending those facing state persecution in Russia, protecting the rule of law, and tirelessly advocating for transparent government and respect for citizens’ fundamental rights.

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