Alkarama Award Becomes a More Proactive Action in Support of 'Human Rights Defenders of the Year'

As of this year, the Alkarama Foundation forgoes its annual Alkarama Award ceremony for Human Rights Defenders in the Arab World to take more concrete action in their support, in the hope to achieve greater impact in the protection and promotion of human rights in the Arab World, and taking into consideration the hurdles specific to the region. This new format will include an international advocacy campaign, as well as direct legal, moral and financial support.

Since 2009, Alkarama has held an annual award ceremony around 10 December (international Human Rights Day) to honour prominent personalities and organisations who had considerably contributed to the protection and promotion of human rights in the Arab World. The objective of this ceremony was to make these human rights defenders known to the international community by shedding light on their activism and steadfast commitment to human rights in their country.

Sadly, many Arab States fail to abide by their international obligations to protect human rights defenders and systematically harass peaceful human rights activists through threats and prosecutions. Hence, many past laureates of the Alkarama Award – in prison during the ceremony – and their relatives were prevented from attending the ceremony in Geneva.

Alkarama has always strived to find the most effective way to protect these men and women who sacrifice their freedom, and sometimes even their life, to secure an Arab World where the basic rights and liberties of all are respected and safeguarded.

Therefore, as of this year, Alkarama has chosen to forgo its annual award ceremony and instead to launch an international advocacy campaign in support of the 'Human Rights Defender of the Year'. To achieve an ever greater impact in its upcoming awareness campaigns, Alkarama will adopt each year an approach tailored to the situation of those we wish to honour, which includes direct legal, moral and financial support to the 'Human Rights Defender of the Year'.

We hope that this new format will act as a more effective platform to highlight the work of these prominent individuals and organisations to the international community, thereby effectively contributing to their protection and the promotion of human rights in the Arab world.

The Alkarama Award's previous recipients were: Talib Al Mamari (Oman, 2015) who was serving his prison sentence during the award's ceremony; Shireen Issawi (Palestine, 2014) who is still detained and has been sentenced to four years in prison; Abdulelah Haider Shaye (Yemen, 2013), Saud Al Hashimi (Arabie Saoudite, 2012) who is serving a 30-year prison sentence, and Mohamed Al Roken (United Arab Emirates, 2012) who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment; Said bin Zair (Saudi Arabia, 2011), Aida Saif El Dawla (Egypt, 2011), Haithem Al-Maleh (Syria, 2010) who was detained during the ceremony, and Ali Yahia Abdennour (Algeria, 2009).

For more information or an interview, please contact media@alkarama.org (Dir: +41 22 734 1008).