Alejandra Ancheita Selected as the 2014 Laureate Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders
Geneva – The Martin Ennals Jury today presented Alejandra Ancheita with the 2014 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA). The Award is given to human rights defenders who have shown deep commitment and face great personal risk. The aim of the award is to provide protection through international recognition. The jury is composed of leading human rights organizations, including Human Rights First.
“Alejandra Ancheita exemplifies the qualities of courage and ingenuity that the Martin Ennals Award is designed to recognize,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley.
Alejandra Ancheita is the founder and executive director of Proyecto de Derechos Economicos, Sociales y Cuturales (ProDESC) in Mexico. For more than 15 years she has worked with migrants, workers, and indigenous communities to protect their land and labor rights vis a vis transnational mining and energy companies. These disputes have included violent attacks on those she is trying to protect. She is also a pioneer in seeking accountability for transnational companies in Mexican courts when local communities’ rights are not taken into account. In Mexico, there is a clear pattern of attacks, threats, criminalization, and murders of human rights defenders. Ancheita and ProDESC have been subjected to surveillance, defamation campaigns in the national media, and a break in at their offices.
“Alejandra Ancheita’s selection by the jury highlights the array of forces facing human rights defenders. Local governments and courts in working with powerful economic interests have led to public defamation and physical attacks,” stated Martin Ennals Foundation Chair Micheline Calmy-Rey.
The two other finalists, Cao Shunli and Adilur Rahman Khan, received Martin Ennals Prizes.
- Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli died in detention on March 14th, 2014 after being denied medical attention for known health conditions. Since 2008 she advocated for access to information, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly. This is a tragic example of reprisals suffered by human rights defenders who work with international human rights mechanisms.
- Since the 1990s Adilur Rahman Khan from Bangladesh and his organization Odhikar have worked on human rights issues such as illegal detention, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. They have faced closure since donor funds destined for Odhikar are being blocked by the prime minister’s office. Khan is facing prosecution for documenting the extrajudicial deaths of 61 people during demonstrations.
The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a unique collaboration among ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations to give protection to human rights defenders worldwide. The jury is composed of the following nongovernmental organizations: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, International Federation for Human Rights, World Organisation Against Torture, Front Line Defenders, International Commission of Jurists, EWDE Germany, International Service for Human Rights, and HURIDOCS. The award will be presented on October 7 at a ceremony hosted by the City of Geneva.