Friday, 25 October 2013

News Release: Nigerian Human Rights Activist Awarded The 2013 Per Anger Prize

(Annually, the Per Anger Prize is awarded to individuals and organizations that have made great efforts promoting democracy and human rights. This year's winner is Justine Ijeomah, founder of the Nigerian human rights organization HURSDEF (Human Rights Social Development and Environmental Foundation).

Per Anger Prize is an international award that was instituted in 2004 by the Swedish government in order to promote democracy and human rights. The Living History Forum has been commissioned to nominate the winner, appoint a jury and organize all the various aspects of the prize.

The prize is named after Per Anger who, as secretary of the Swedish legation in Budapest, initiated Sweden’s work to save as many people as possible from persecution and death during the Second World War in Nazi-occupied Hungary. This year’s winner of the Per Anger Prize is Justine Ijeomah, founder of the Nigerian human rights organization HURSDEF (Human Rights Social Development and Environmental Foundation) and the justification is:

For, in a context of brutal police violence, abuse, death threats and assassination attempts, steadfastly fighting against human rights abuses, particularly among the poor and lower-educated, and for single-mindedly working to abolish the death penalty, we award Justine Ijeomah of Nigeria the 2013 Per Anger Prize.

Although Nigeria is a democracy, illegal arrests, extrajudicial executions, torture and disappearances are relatively common. In emergency situations, Justine Ijeomah and other activists in HURSDEF go to detention facilities and police stations in order to reduce the risk of maltreatment through their very presence, and to try to get the person released on bail. Those who are arrested are often street children with no other form of representation at all. Justine Ijeomah also works to initiate investigations when people have disappeared or been arrested. This work can also include getting bodies released from morgues or attending court proceedings.

On many occasions, Justine Ijeomah has received death threats and been forced to go underground. He has been arrested, severely beaten and tortured and survived several serious attempts on his life.

The award ceremony will be held in the Swedish capitol Stockholm at November 14.

The nomination organizations are Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders, Diakonia, UNA-Sweden, the International Commission of Jurists Swedish Section, Reporters without Borders, Swedish Pen, the Red Cross and the Church of Sweden.

Jonas Morian
Press secretary
The Living History Forum
Int'l phone: +46 (0)70-259 38 19

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