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Tribute to human rights defenders

Strasbourg, 09.12.2013 – On the occasion of Human Rights Day (10 December 2013), Jean-Claude Mignon, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), made the following statement:

“On the occasion of Human Rights Day I would like to pay tribute to those courageous individuals who – sometimes at the risk of their lives – strive to uphold human rights in Europe and beyond. We cannot but admire the incredible courage of these women and men, who work devotedly and selflessly to defend our universal values worldwide. Our Assembly unconditionally supports these defenders of human rights, who expose themselves to danger in the daily fight against human rights violations such as torture, impunity and corruption.

Ales Bialiatski, who is currently in prison in Belarus, is one such person. With courage, integrity and perseverance, he has fought daily for the rights of his fellow citizens. He is currently in prison for defending what he believes in, what we also believe in. This is why our Assembly awarded him the first Václav Havel Human Rights Prize in September 2013.

This prize is awarded annually by the Assembly in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation in recognition of exceptional actions by individuals or NGOs to defend human rights. It constitutes practical support for these remarkable individuals who devote their lives to investigating human rights violations, protecting vulnerable persons and holding governments to account.

If you know of an exceptional human rights defender– an organisation or an individual – who deserves recognition, please tell us.

The second Václav Havel Prize will shortly be open for nominations. I would encourage you to help us provide these courageous women and men with the recognition they deserve by submitting nominations on the Assembly website.

By fighting determinedly for human rights, they are actually helping all of us.”