Alejandra Ancheita claims 2014 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

Alejandra Ancheita has been selected by the International Human Rights Community as the 2014 Martin Ennals Award Laureate. 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. Strongly supported by the City of Geneva, the Award will be presented on 7 October.Alejandra Ancheita (Mexico), Founder and Executive Director of ProDESC. For over 15 years she has worked with migrants, workers and indigenous communities to protect their land and labour 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 one of the pioneers 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. Ms Ancheita and ProDESC have been subjected to surveillance, a defamation campaign in the national media and a break in at their offices.Martin Ennals Foundation Chair Micheline Calmy-Rey stated: “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.”The two other finalists received Martin Ennals Prizes:Cao Shunli (China): She died in Chinese custody on 14 March 2014 after being denied medical attention for known health conditions until too late. 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.Adilur Rahman Khan (Bangladesh), Since the 1990s, he and his organization Odhikar have worked on human rights issues such as illegal detention, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings. They face closure since donor funds destined for Odhikar are being blocked by the Prime Minister’s Office. Personally he is facing prosecution for documenting the extrajudicial deaths of 61 people during demonstrations.

The main award of the human rights movement. The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a unique collaboration among 10 of the world’s leading human rights organizations to give protection to human rights defenders worldwide.  The Jury is composed of the following NGOs: 

Amnesty InternationalHuman Rights WatchHuman Rights FirstFIDH – Int’l Federation for Human RightsOMCT – World Organisation Against TortureFront Line DefendersInternational Commission of JuristsInternational Service for Human Rights  HURIDOCSEvangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung