Filipino Human Rights Lawyer Angelo Guillen Honored with Baldwin Medal of Liberty
Baldwin Award Given to International Human Rights Defender in 2022
NEW YORK – Human Rights First announced today that Angelo Karlo Guillen, a human rights lawyer in the Philippines, is the winner of the 2022 Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty. The Baldwin Medal will be presented to Guillen in person at an event in the United States later this year.
“For more than 30 years, the Baldwin Medal has brought recognition and support to extraordinary activists who are advancing the protection of human rights at great personal risk,” said Michael Breen, President and CEO of Human Rights First. “Angelo Guillen is a courageous and effective advocate whose work has made a difference in the lives of his fellow Filipinos and put a spotlight on abuses and calling for accountability.”
Guillen is a prominent human rights defender and a leader in the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL). He lives and works primarily on the island of Panay, and his legal practice has included a focus on helping document human rights violations and educating farmers and indigenous communities on their human rights under domestic and international law.
In March 2021, after years of being followed, surveilled, and vilified for his work, Guillen survived a brutal stabbing by unknown assailants. The attack followed repeated attempts by government officials and others to depict him and other NUPL lawyers as “terrorists.” Three other NUPL lawyers have been murdered in previous years.
“I am honored to accept the Baldwin Medal, which I do on behalf of all Filipino human rights lawyers and defenders,” said Guillen. “This award will encourage us even more, to continue our work defending human rights and civil liberties in the Philippines, even in these difficult times.
“I am especially glad this award could be announced on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which is also National Indigenous Peoples Day in the Philippines. Indigenous peoples, like the Tumandok community, as well as farmers, labor leaders, and activists, have borne the brunt of unjust arrests, extrajudicial killings, and other human rights violations committed by state security forces that, to this day, still take place throughout the country. Their rights must be protected, and we hope that this recognition will help bring attention to their plight.”
Guillen was chosen for the 2022 Baldwin Medal at the recommendation of an independent jury that included Radhya Almutawakel, the co-founder and chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights and the winner of the 2018 Baldwin Medal; Kizito Byenkya, the director of campaigns at the Open Society Foundations; Diana Daniels, the independent trustee of the Goldman Sachs Mutual Funds; Alexa Koenig, the co-founder and executive director of the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley’s School of Law; Paul Model, vice president and treasurer of the Leo Model Foundation; Cristina Palabay, the secretary general of Karapatan Alliance Philippines, winner of the 2021 William D. Zabel Human Rights Award; and jury chair Robert Mandell, former U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg and a member of Human Rights First’s Board of Directors.
The immediate past recipient of Human Rights First’s Roger Baldwin Medal, Hong Kong lawyer and human rights defender Albert Ho, remains unjustly detained. Human Rights First continues to call on Hong Kong authorities to release Ho.
The Baldwin Medal of Liberty is named in honor of Roger N. Baldwin, principal founder of both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the International League for Human Rights. The award, which was established in 1989, is presented in alternating years by Human Rights First, which awards human rights advocates outside the United States, and the ACLU, which awards advocates in the United States. Past international winners of the Baldwin Medal are listed here.