Selected by a jury of 10 Global Human Rights organizations, including the ICJ, Ahmed Mansoor could not come to Geneva to collect the 2015 Award, as he has been banned from travelling. Robert Sann Aung (Myanmar) and Asmaou Diallo (Guinea) receive Martin Ennals Prizes.
Emirati blogger and prominent human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor is one of the very few independent voices to whom international NGOs can turn for a credible independent assessment of human rights developments in the United Arab Emirates.
He regularly raises concerns on arbitrary detention, torture, international standards for fair trials, non-independence of the judiciary, and domestic laws that violate international law.
Since 2006, he has focussed on initiatives concerning freedom of expression, civil and political rights.
He successfully campaigned in 2006-2007 to support two people jailed for critical social comments, who were released and the charges dropped.
Shortly after, the Prime Minister of UAE issued an order not to jail journalists in relation to their work.
He has faced repeated intimidation and harassment, including imprisonment in 2011 after being convicted of “insulting officials” and sentenced to three years’ in prison, although he was released after eight months.
Since being jailed in 2011, he has been denied a passport and banned from travelling.
The Martin Ennals Jury has publically urged the government of the UAE to lift this travel ban and allow him to travel.
“Ahmed Mansoor continues to pay the price for speaking out on human rights issues in his country, we urge his government to lift the travel ban,” said Martin Ennals Foundation Chair Micheline Calmy-Rey.
“There is little attention for the massive crackdown on free expression and assembly in the UAE, and Ahmed Mansoor is one of the few independent voices who refuses to be silenced,” said Olivier van Bogaert, ICJ Director of Media and Communications, and ICJ Representative on the MEA Jury.
“Without him, we would probably not know that behind the UAE’s shopping malls, high-rise towers and tourism hub, there is a nasty underside, there are dark prisons where inmates are hidden for years without trial, and tortured,” he added.
Honored with a Martin Ennals Prize, Robert Sann Aung (Myanmar) has courageously fought against human rights abuses since 1974.
He has been repeatedly imprisoned in harsh conditions, physically attacked as well as regularly threatened. He was disbarred from 1993 – 2012.
Currently, he represents students detained for peacefully protests.
Asmaou Diallo (Guinea) founded l’Association des Parents et Amis des Victimes du 28 septembre 2009 (APIVA), after the Guinean military attacked peaceful demonstrators on that day.
APIVA assists those affected, and supports them to testify in court proceedings.
The “Nobel Prize of Human Rights”, the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a unique collaboration among ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations to give protection to human rights defenders worldwide.
Strongly supported by the City of Geneva, the award is given to Human Rights Defenders who have shown deep commitment and face great personal risk. Its aim is to provide protection through international recognition.
The Jury is composed of the following NGOs: ICJ, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, Int’l Federation for Human Rights, World Organisation Against Torture, Front Line Defenders, EWDE Germany, International Service for Human Rights, and HURIDOCS.
Michael Khambatta, Director Martin Ennals Foundation, t: +41 79 474 8208, e: khambatta(a)martinennalsaward.org
Olivier van Bogaert, ICJ Director of Media and Communications, and ICJ Representative on the MEA Jury, t: +41 22 979 38 08, e: olivier.vanbogaert(a)icj.org
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