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Colombia
05.12.02
Urgent Interventions

Colombian Human Rights Defender wins the Martin Ennals Award 2003

Press release

Paris, Geneva, 5th December 2002

Colombian Human Rights Defender wins 10th edition of most prestigious award of human rights movement, the MEA

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of their joint program The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, are happy to announce that Alirio Uribe Muñoz, of the Collective Jose Alvear Restrepo (Colombia), has been selected as the winner of the 2003 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) and transmit their warm thoughts of congratulation to Mr. Uribe Muñoz, as well as his family and colleagues.
The Observatory has been intervening regularly on the alarming deterioration of the situation of human rights defenders in Colombia, in particular the constant threats faced by Mr. Uribe Muñoz (see Colombia monthly appeal since January 2002).
Alirio Uribe, who works since more than 10 years for the victims of human rights violations, said that this great honor “belongs foremost to all the human rights defenders (HRDs) in Colombia who struggle in the hope that their country will one day come out of the crisis in which it now finds itself”. The award is a clear message of recognition and hope for all the human rights defenders, who - like Alirio - risk their lives every day in denouncing grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law and by fighting against impunity that is rampant in their country.
In Colombia, 10 members of non-governmental organisations and 150 trade unionists have been murdered in 2001; 90% of these crimes have been committed by para-military groups, whose collusion with the armed forces has on many occasions been demonstrated by intergovernmental and international human rights organisations, and the other 10% by the rebels, the army or other armed groups. The work of HRDs is indispensable in the light of massive violations of human rights: in 2001 alone, there were 3366 political killings, 775 cases of disappearances and over 300.000 forced displacements, while the situation during 2002 continued to deteriorate.
The award ceremony will be on 31 March 2003 in Geneva, broadcast live by Swiss Television. Barbara Hendricks will participate and sing, while the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, has agreed to hand over the award.

The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a unique collaboration among ten of the world’s leading non-governmental human rights organizations. The Jury is composed of the following: Amnesty International, Defence for Children, German Diakonia, Human Rights Watch, HURIDOCS, International Alert, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights, International Service for Human Rights and World Organisation Against Torture.
The MEA, created in 1993, is granted annually to an individual or an organization who has displayed exceptional courage in combating human rights violations. The award of 20,000 CHF is given to further human rights work. The previous 9 recipients of the MEA are: Jacqueline Moudeina, Chad (2002); Peace Brigades International, Immaculée Birhaheka, DRC; Natasa Kandic, Yugoslavia; Eyad El Sarraj, Palestine; Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Mexico; Clement Nwankwo, Nigeria; Asma Jahangir, Pakistan; Harry Wu, China (1994).

Martin Ennals (1927-1991) was instrumental to the modern human rights movement. A fiercely devoted activist, he creatively pursued ideas ahead of his time as the first Secretary-General of Amnesty International and the driving force behind many other organisations. His deep desire was to see more cooperation and solidarity among NGOs: the MEA is evidence that this is possible.

For more information contact the MEA: www.martinennalsaward.org, FIDH (Alexa Leblanc): 00 33 1 43 55 25 18 or OMCT (Laurence Cuny): 00 41 22 809 49 24.
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