Strasbourg, 30.09.2013 – The first ever Václav Havel Human Rights Prize – which honours outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights – has been awarded to Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski.
As Mr Bialiatski is currently in prison, the €60 000 prize was presented to his wife, Natallia Pinchuk, in 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 Jean-Claude Mignon, chair of the selection panel, said: “In his daily struggle against violations of human rights, injustice, arbitrariness and authoritarianism, Ales Bialiatski has worked ceaselessly so that the citizens of Belarus may one day aspire to our European standards.” In prison since 2011 following a trial unanimously condemned by the international community, Ales Bialiatski has for many years fought in Belarus to assist victims of political repression and to spread information worldwide on human rights violations in the country. He is Chairman of the Human Rights Centre Viasna, which he set up in 1996, and – since 2007 – Vice- President of the International Federation on Human Rights.
Representatives of the two other shortlisted nominees – the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association and the Rights Defence Network from China – also received diplomas during the ceremony. In 2013, 27 nominations were received which fulfilled the criteria for the Prize.