The sixth Václav Havel Human Rights Prize – which honours outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights – has been awarded to the head of the Grozny office of the Memorial Human Rights Center in Chechyna, Oyub Titiev (Russian Federation). The prize was presented at a special ceremony today at the Palais de l’Europe in Strasbourg, on the opening day of the autumn plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Oyub Titiev, in detention since January 2018, is a prominent human rights defender and head of the Grozny office of the Memorial Human Rights Center in Chechyna. In this capacity, Mr Titiev succeeded Natalia Estemirova, murdered in 2009, and has made a widely recognised contribution to the defence of human rights in the region by reporting on abuses by the local authorities. Mr Titiev being in detention, the prize was presented to Aleksandr Cherkasov, Chairman of the Memorial Human Rights Centre Board.
"We are fully aware of the difficulties that Mr Titiev and his colleagues face. This prize is a recognition of the work he and Memorial are doing," the PACE President said. "It is also a message to all those who work in this region to affirm the principles of the rule of law and human rights. Keep up the good work, you can count on our support," Liliane Maury Pasquier added.
The two other shortlisted nominees – Rosa María Payá, a young Cuban democracy and human rights activist, and Nabeel Rajab, a prominent democracy and human rights defender in Bahrain – also received diplomas during the ceremony.
The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is awarded each year by the Parliamentary Assembly, in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation, to reward outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights in Europe and beyond. Nominations of any individual, non-governmental organisation or institution working to defend human rights are taken into consideration.
The Prize consists of a sum of € 60 000, a trophy and a diploma. The Prize is awarded in memory of Václav Havel, playwright, opponent of totalitarianism, architect of the Velvet Revolution of 1989, President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic and an enduring symbol of opposition to despotism.
The first-ever Václav Havel Prize for Human Rights was awarded in 2013 to Ales Bialiatski (Belarus), followed by Anar Mammadli (Azerbaijan) in 2014, Ludmilla Alexeeva (Russian Federation) in 2015, Nadia Murad (Iraq) in 2016, and Murat Arslan (Turkey) in 2017.