The Martin Ennals Award 2009 goes to Human Rights Defender from Iran

(Madrid) Today the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) announced as the 2009 Laureate Emad Baghi, a leading Iranian human rights defender based in Tehran.

Emad Baghi founded the Society for the Defense of Prisoners’ Rights and has been a vigorous and outspoken opponent of the death penalty in Iran. His campaigning includes a scholarly examination of Islamic law (shari`a) on the subject, in which he demonstrates the absence of any doctrinal requirement for maintaining capital punishment. In addition, Emad Baghi’s inventory of death row prisoners in Iran, including juvenile offenders, has been an important resource for UN human rights bodies as well as human rights groups outside the country. Emad Baghi has spent four years in prison over the past decade for his campaigning against the death penalty and other human rights activities. Currently out of jail, he still faces charges relating to his work for the defense of prisoners rights. Emad Baghi suffers from serious heart and kidney ailments; in August 2008 prison physicians declared his condition critical.

The Chairman of the Jury of the MEA, Hans Thoolen, said the laureate was: “an exceptionally brave man defending human rights despite imprisonment and poor health”.

The Ceremony of the Martin Ennals Award will take place in Geneva in November 2009.

BackgroundMEA: 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 NGOs: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, International Federation for Human Rights, World Organisation Against Torture, Front Line, International Commission of Jurists, German Diakonie, International Service for Human Rights and HURIDOCS.

Previous laureates: Mutabar Tadjibaeva, Uzbekistan (2008); Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, Burundi and Rajan Hoole-Kopalasingham Sritharan, Sri Lanka; Akbar Ganji, Iran and Arnold Tsunga, Zimbabwe; Aktham Naisse, Syria; Lida Yusupova, Russia; Alirio Uribe Muñoz, Colombia; Jacqueline Moudeina, Chad; Peace Brigades International; Immaculée Birhaheka, DR Congo; Natasha Kandic, Yugoslavia; Eyad El Sarraj, Palestine; Samuel Ruiz, Mexico; Clement Nwankwo, Nigeria; Asma Jahangir, Pakistan; Harry Wu, China.

Patrons of the Martin Ennals Award: Asma Jahangir, Barbara Hendricks, José Ramos-Horta, Adama Dieng, Leandro Despouy, Louise Arbour, Robert Fulghum, Theo van Boven and Werner Lottje†.

For further information, please contact: Luis Marreiros, Coordinator, +41228094925 [email protected] or visit END/