Václav Havel Human Rights Prize
Strasbourg, 29.09.2014 – The second Václav Havel Human Rights Prize – which honours outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights – has been awarded to Azerbaijani human rights defender Anar Mammadli.
As Mr Mammadli is currently in prison, the €60 000 prize was presented to his father, Asaf Mammadov, at a special ceremony today at the Palais de l'Europe in Strasbourg, on the opening day of the autumn plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Presenting the trophy, PACE President Anne Brasseur, chair of the selection panel, said: "Mr Mammadli's commitment lies in the area of promoting democratic institutions and civil and political rights. Annar Mammadli is our long-standing partner who shared with our Assembly, but also with other bodies of the Council of Europe, including its Commissioner for human rights, his valuable expertise on the situation in his country."
Mr Mammadli is the founder and chairperson of an influential and experienced organisation in Azerbaijan dedicated to observing elections. Since 2001, his Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDS) has been carrying out independent election monitoring in Azerbaijan. He contributed to programmes and events on monitoring of elections, participation and education of voters, as well as the design of materials and reports during 13 elections in Azerbaijan. He was arrested in December 2013 on charges of "abuse of power" and other matters, and sentenced to five and a half years in prison in May 2014.
Representatives of the two other shortlisted nominees – the B'Tselem Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories and Malta's Jesuit Refugee Service – also received diplomas during the ceremony. "All three nominees merit our highest consideration," the President said.
In 2014, 56 nominations were received which fulfilled the criteria for the Prize.
The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is awarded each year by the PACE in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation to reward outstanding civil society action in the defence of human rights in Europe and beyond.
The Prize is awarded in memory of Václav Havel, playwright, opponent of totalitarianism, architect of the Velvet Revolution of 1989, President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic and an enduring symbol of opposition to despotism. Nominations of any individual, non-governmental organisation or institution working to defend human rights are taken into consideration. The Prize consists of a sum of €60 000, a trophy and a diploma.
On 25 March 2013, the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize was launched at a ceremony in Prague with the signature of the Co-operation Agreement by the President of the Assembly, Jean-Claude Mignon, the Director of the Václav Havel Library, Marta Smolíková, and the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Charta 77 Foundation, František Janouch, in the presence of Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize replaces the Assembly Human Rights Prize, which was created in 2007 and awarded every two years, first in 2009 to "British Irish Human Rights Watch" and then, in 2011, to the Russian NGO "Committee against Torture".