Diakonia - People change the world
The changemaker Judith Maldonado was one of the recipients of the 2012 Human Rights Award. Photo: Felipe Abondano

September: Price for human rights defenders in Colombia

On the 9th of September 2013, Diakonia together with DIAL and the EU will reward two human rights defenders and one organization in Colombia, for their enthusiastic work within the field of humnan rights defense with prizes instituted in 2012.


Progress only possible thorugh dedication

Diakonia's secretary general Bo Forsberg will travel to Colombia in September to attend the ceremony. Regarding the need for brave human rights defenders in Colombia, he says:

"The history of Latin America has been plagued by colonialism, dictature and oppression. But the changes we have seen the latest decades have been the result of people who have literally given their lives for the values of freedom, respect for human rights and democracy. When I go to Colombia, it is to give attention, make visible and support the people who fight for democracy, as well as highlighting the importance of the Swedish aid and how it makes a difference."

About the prize

The prize was created in 2012 by Diakonia, DIAL and the EU to give appreciation and attention to human rights defenders within three different categories:

El defensador o defensadora del año (The human rights defender of the year). The prize is rewarded to a person who has made special efforts during the year to promote and defend human rights in Colombia.

La Experiencia o proceso colectivo del año (The collective experience or process of the year). The prize given to an organization which during the year has evolved its work regarding the defense of human rights.

A toda una vida (The work of a lifetime). The prize is received by a human rights defender who for many years tirelessly have worked for the defense of human rights in Colombia.

Why is the prize necessary?

In Colombia, human rights for everyone are from the reality, and people working with defending human rights often put themsleves in positions where their determination puts their lives at risk. The work and initiatives from civil society are often treated by the Colombian government and authorities as anti-democratic, or are accused of being in liaison with the gerilla.

Colombia has for many years rewarded athletes, scinetists and prominent women for their work in their respective field, but up until last year, no prize existed within the field of human rights defense. With thise situation at hand, the Premio Nacional a la defensa de los derechos humanos en Colombia was created. For this year's reward, the jury has consisted of experts within the field of human rights defense from Latin America, North America and Europe in order to find worthy recipients.

Important day: There is a very good reason why the prize is being handed out on the 9th of September. It is on that day Colombia celebrates the Human Rights Day, and what better way to do that than rewarding prizes regarding the defense of human rights!

Decreasing the social stigma

Diakonia hopes that the rewards will contribute in decreasing the stigma towards human rights defenders and organizations working with human rights in Colombia. The prize was naturally also created to give appreciation and praise to the brave people that dares to openly speak about human rights for everyone.