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Finalists Announced for Martin Ennals Award 2017


Geneva, 26 April 2017

Finalists for the 2017Martin Ennals Award are human rights defenders from Cambodia, El Salvador andEgypt

The Martin EnnalsAward for Human Rights Defenders is selected by teninternational human rights NGOs, including OMCT, and is given to human rights defenders who haveshown deep commitment and courage in the face of personal risk. The aim of theaward is to highlight their work and protect them through increased visibility.

Finalists for the 2017 Martin Ennals Awardfor Human Rights Defenders are:


FreeThe5KH are five human rights defenders- Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha, Lim Mony, YiSoksan and Ny Chakrya - who havebeen in pre-trial detention since April 28, 2016. This is linked to theirwork with the Cambodian Human Rightsand Development Association (ADHOC). International bodies like the UNWorking Group on Arbitrary Detention and UN Special Rapporteurs have repeatedlycalled for their immediate and unconditional release, and a stop to judicialharassment of human rights defenders in Cambodia based on their legitimatehuman rights work. This comes in the context of an increasingly severecrackdown on civil society and the political opposition in Cambodia.

On behalf of theKhmer Five, Thun Saray, President of (ADHOC) comments: “It is an immense honour for the five HRDs to be selected as finalists.28 April will mark their one year in arbitrary detention on the basis of theirlegitimate human rights work. The increased attacks against HRDs and activistshas had a tremendous impact on those working to promote and protect humanrights in Cambodia. This Award is symbol of encouragement for every courageousCambodian, who continues to speak out against injustices and human rightsviolations. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to everyone that hassupported the nomination.

Karla Avelar (ElSalvador)

Karla Avelar, a transgender woman in El Salvador, grew up on the streetsof San Salvador, suffering discrimination, violence, exploitation, and rape.She was imprisoned when she defended herself, and then regularly abused byfellow prisoners with the knowledge and even participation of the prisonauthorities. These terrible experiences have forged her into a powerfuladvocate. With three others, she founded COMCAVIS TRANS, which was created torepresent, defend, and promote the human rights of LGBTI persons, with a focuson those living with HIV, as she does. She works to change legislation and the authorities’practices, by holding them publicly to account. Notably her advocacy helpedprompt the authorities to segregate LGBTI prisoners for their own safety, and allowfor the standard HIV treatments provided by the Ministry of Health.

She said,” I want to thank MartinEnnals, the jury, and those who nominated me for this important award.Although today I am in danger, and sure that my struggle is risky, my eagernessfor justice and equity motivates me. I will continue to push the State toaccept reforms and legislation proposed by civil society to allow the LGBTIcommunity to fully enjoy their human rights.”

Mohamed Zaree (Egypt)

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Mohamed Zaree is the Egypt Country Director for the Cairo Institute forHuman Rights Studies (CIHRS), responsible for CIHRS’s legal research, mediaoutreach and national advocacy. CIHRS’s work was influential in the Arab worldparticularly Egypt, which resulted in death threats to its director. Thisforced the CIHRS executive director and regional staff to move abroad tocontinue their work. Mohamed chose to stay and is now banned from travel. He isa legal scholar coordinating research to challenge laws designed to limit NGOsactivities working on human rights, such as freedom of expression and assembly.He is widely seen a unifying figure bringing together the human rightscommunity in Egypt to advocate with a common approach.

He stated “Our hopes were highfollowing the Egyptian revolution in 2011; we don't know how the situation hasinstead deteriorated to such an extent. Today, we are battling human rightsviolations that are worse than before 2011, and challenging the normalizationand acceptance of these atrocities. Killing almost 1000 citizens in few hours,arresting almost 40,000 others, innocents dying in Egyptian prisons; is not thenorm and we will not allow it to become so. We human rights defenders arefighting these abuses at risk of indefinite imprisonment.


The Award will be presented on October 10th, 2017 at a ceremonyhosted by the City of Geneva.

The main award of the human rights movement. TheMartin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a unique collaborationamong ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations to give protection to human rights defendersworldwide. The Jury is composed of the following NGOs:

- Amnesty International,

- Human Rights Watch,

- Human Rights First,


- World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT),

- Front Line Defenders,

- International Commission of Jurists,

- EWDE Germany,

- International Service for Human Rights,


For further information, please contact: Michael Khambatta +41 79474 8208 or visit

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