Diakonia - People change the world
The recipients of the defense of human rights prizes (from left): Islena Rey, AFAVIT, Alejandro Angulo and GIDH. Photo: Wiliam Rozo

Colombian human rights activists rewarded

On the 9th of September, the second annual "Prize for the defense of human rights in Colombia" was handed out. The prize is an acknowledgement from the international organizations that operates in the country.


The human rights defender of the year

The prize in the category "Human rights defender of the year" was received by the activist Islena Rey, who is a well-known leader within the field. The prize was given to her for her extensive work for human rights, for her enforcement of international humanitarian law as well as her work on economical, social and cultural rights.

Collective and individual grassroots process

The winner of the category "Collective grassroots process" was awarded the civil society organization AFAVIT - an organization working with friends and relatives of the victims of the violence in the city of Trujillo. AFAVIT's works within several areas, like advocating for the historical memory and compensation for those affected by crmes against humanity.

The third category of the prize is the individual prize for an organization's grassroots process. This prize went to the organization GIDH - the interdisciplinary group for human rights. GIDH operates in the city of Medellín with judicial support to victims of crimes against humanity, advocacy and human rights training. At the moment, the group has been forced to shut down its office due to serious threats and harassments.

A life commitment to human rights

The last category is a recognition of an entire life's work to promote and defend human rights. This recipient was the jesuit priest Alejandro Angulo Novoa from the organization CINEP, which is a centre for research and public education. He has dedicated his life to conduct social research directed towards the most vulnerable groups in society, and to document, classify and publish information about crimes against human rights.

Fighting and advocating for human rights in Colombia often puts those involved in dangerous and life threatening positions. Many human rights defenders have received threats for their work, and during the first six months of 2013, 37 human rights defenders in Colombia have been murdered.

Nominations from the entire country

In total, 48 nominations for the different prizes was received, promoting people and organizations from eleven different provinces of Colombia. The ceremony was attended by the Colombian vice president Angelino Garzón, Assier Santillán from the European Union, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Juan Carlos Monge, Pontue Rosenberg from the Swedish embassy in Colombia and the Secretary general of Diakonia, Bo Forsberg.

The human rights defense prizes are unique in Colombia, as there are no other prizes or rewards in the country that acknowledges persons and organizations working with human rights. The prize is issued by DIAL, which is a collective network for international organizations, in cooperation with the European Union and Diakonia's project regarding the defense of human rights.