Geneva, April 11th, 2002
Today, Jacqueline Moudeina, the lawyer for the victims of the former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré, receives the 2002 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. She took enormous risks by filing complaints in Chad against a number of Habré's accomplices, many of whom are still in positions of power. She also is one of the lawyers in the case against Habré himself in Senegal, where he lives in exile. As one of the few women lawyers in Chad, Jacqueline Moudeina gives much of her time to the local NGO, ATPDH. On 11 June 2001, when she took part in a peaceful sit-in to protest against the fraudulent elections, a security squad, led by one of the men she is suing, threw a grenade at her. Jacqueline Moudeina had to go to Paris for treatment.
The award will be handed to her today, 11 April 2002 at 17:30, by the Senegalese singer Cheikh Lô, himself a human rights activist. The ceremony takes place in studio 4 of the Télévision Suisse Romande in Geneva in the framework of the Festival Media North-South.
This 11th of April also marks the much-awaited entry into force of the International Criminal Court. The Jury of the Martin Ennals Award is proud to honour today an activist who symbolises the fight against impunity. The members of the Jury are: Amnesty International, Defence for Children, German Diakona, Human Rights Watch, HURIDOCS, International Alert, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights, International Service for Human Rights and World Organisation Against Torture.
The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a unique collaboration among ten of the world's leading non-governmental human rights organizations. The MEA, created in 1993, carries a money component of 20.000 CHF. It is granted annually to an individual or an organization who has displayed exceptional courage in combating human rights violations. The previous 8 recipients of the MEA are: Peace Brigades International (2001), Immaculée Birhaheka, DR Congo; Natasa Kandic, Yugoslavia; Eyad El Sarraj, Palestine; Samuel Ruiz García, Mexico; Clement Nwankwo, Nigeria; Asma Jahangir, Pakistan; Harry Wu, China (1994).
"The prompt support that I received from human rights NGOs after the attack of 11 June in Chad, which almost cost me my life, is testimony of the solidarity that exists among human rights defenders (HRDs). I will forever remain grateful to them. The love they extended to me is far greater than all the pains I have endured. I consider the Martin Ennals Award (MEA) a victory for the Chadian human rights NGOs, in particular for the ATPDH. I want to extend my appreciation to the ten organisations on the jury of the MEA."
"More than ever HRDs are qualified as enemies of the state…. The situation of HRDs is further aggravated by the tragic events of 11 September 2001. The terrorist attacks committed on American soil against innocent civilians cannot be justified. And it is important to judge the perpetrators in a fair trial. But let me add that the security-oriented response through the International Coalition against Terrorism goes overboard and leads to human rights violations…."
"Still, in spite of the growing repression against HRDs, one must retain the advances made and successes obtained. The very fact that in certain countries HRDs have to pay a heavy price is evidence of the impact of their actions and the fear that they install in dictators. It is by breaking the silence that civil society will impose its demands for peace and respect for fundamental human rights."
"The historical steps forward in international justice prove that no democratic process is sustainable without truth and justice for the victims…[in this context] I have to announce in the name of all HRDs the big news, a giant step in the fight against impunity: the sixtieth ratification of the Statute of the International Criminal Court has been deposited with the United Nations in New York today and this brings the Court into existence… Even if the road towards an effective Court is still long, its creation sends a clear message, both the perpetrators of international crime and to their victims: IMPUNITY IS NO LONGER TOLERATED! A message which I carry - like all my friends in the world - in my heart."
This is the 9th ceremony of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders and the third consecutive one here in Geneva in cooperation with the North-South Media Festival and Jean-Philippe Rapp. This longevity is in itself a clear sign of sustainability. The impressive list of previous award winners (see our new posters and the video wall in this studio) is further evidence that the very idea of an award specifically for human rights defenders makes sense.
The Jury of the MEA is composed of the following 10 international human rights organizations (I know any list is boring but this one reads like the 'Who Is Who' of the human rights movement): Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights, Defence for Children Int'l, Human Rights Desk of German Diakonia, International Alert, International Commission of Jurists, International Service for Human Rights, the World Organisation Against Torture, and, of course, HURIDOCS, which provides a home to the MEA.
Martin Ennals was instrumental to the modern human rights movement and helped to found many of the organisations mentioned above. His deep desire was to see more cooperation and solidarity among NGOs. Their cooperation in this award I see very much as a posthumous response to his wish.
According to gender politics, the winner of the MEA should have been a man this year, but it is again a woman: Jacqueline Moudeina, one of the few women lawyers in Chad. She works for a local NGO, the Association Tchadienne pour la Promotion et la Défense des Droits de l'Homme, where she is daily engaged in providing free legal advice and human rights awareness training. And I am very glad to see other human rights NGOs from Chad present here, because the MEA wants to extend its recognition to all human rights activists in Chad.
Jacqueline is also the lawyer for the victims of the former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré. She took enormous risks by filing complaints in Chad against a number of Habré's accomplices many of whom are still in positions of power. She also is one of the lawyers in the case against Habré himself in Senegal, where he now lives in exile.
Exactly 10 months ago, on 11 June 2001, Jacqueline took part in a peaceful sit-in to protest against the fraudulent elections. A security squad, led by one of the men she is suing, threw a grenade at her. Jacqueline Moudeina almost lost a leg, not to mention her life, and had to go to Paris for treatment. Still, she plans to return soon to continue her work against impunity and her quest for justice. My predecessor, as chairman of the MEA, Adama Dieng is now the Registrar of the Arusha Tribunal. He will be thrilled to see the MEA go to the quest for international justice.
As Chairman of the small Martin Ennals Foundation, I would also like to express some public thanks. To Geneva-based team of Laura Faehndrich, Nadja Houben, Adrian Kosmaczewski and Nejib and Nadia Ghali. The Festival staff and this year's donors: the Dutch section of Amnesty International, the Oltramare Foundation, Elisabeth Ahmadi, the German Ambassador in to the UN in Geneva, and the Barbara Hendricks Foundation, specifically also to mark today's creation of the International Criminal Court. (I would also like to thank already the Canton de Geneve, which has not yet decided on our application for funding!)
Every year the MEA seems to get better known and gets more publicity. In the case of Jacqueline even the state-controlled media in Chad could not refrain from talking about her receiving the award, thus taking a bizarre pride in seeing the thorn in their flesh getting honoured. That is the kind of publicity that brings protection to HRDs and that is what the MEA is ultimately all about.
Thank you for coming tonight.
The short documentary you are now going to see was made by Robert Brouwer and Willem Offenberg for the Martin Ennals Foundation. It demonstrates better than any words in a Jury report, the reasons why Jacqueline Moudeina deserves the MEA of the year 2002.
In 2002 the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) helped to increase the profile of human rights defenders (HRDs) all over the world and to provide protection to one activist in particular: Jacqueline Moudeina from Chad. The widely distributed press releases of 16 January and 11 April 2002, explain how she took enormous risks by filing complaints in Chad against a number of Habré's accomplices, many of whom are still in positions of power. She also is one of the lawyers in the case against Habré himself in Senegal, where he lives in exile. On 11 June 2001, when she took part in a peaceful sit-in to protest against the fraudulent elections, a security squad - led by one of the men she is suing - threw a grenade at her and seriously wounded her. Jacqueline Moudeina had to go to Paris for treatment. Jacqueline has informed us that a large part of the prize money, which she received will be used to pay the medical bills for her recovery. She is now making good progress and is planning to return at the end of August.
The ceremony itself took place in Geneva on 11 April at 17.00 hours in the big studio 4 of Télévision Suisse Romande (TSR). It was again a well-attended and moving event, and…this year we had more TV coverage than ever. Those who are interested can obtain a copy of the media impact report prepared from the Secretariat in Geneva. Jacqueline Moudeina was the main guest in three different TV programmes (ZigZag Café and FaxCulture of TSR, and an interview with Denise Epoté-Duran for TV5 Afrique). All three were re-broadcast, via TV5, all over the francophone world and in particular in Africa. ZigZag Café included in its broadcast the integral version of the film on the work of Jacqueline made by Willem Offenberg and Rob Brouwer, thus ensuring that a film that would never have been shown on TV in Chad was now seen by thousands of compatriots of Jacqueline Moudeina. Her return to Chad will be followed closely by the media and public opinion. The performance and handing over of the award by the Senegalese singer and human rights activist Cheikh Lô added much to the ambiance and outreach of the ceremony. This new feature is something we would like to repeat next year.
In 2003 the MEA ceremony could be a direct (or quasi direct) TV broadcast. Probably in the first week of April 2003 and thus still parallel to the North-South Festival and the Commission on Human Rights. Although the precise 'format' of the broadcast needs to be further agreed, this represents a big step forward in our efforts to get substantive human rights information on the screens.
Contributions this year, came from AI Netherlands, the Barbara Hendricks Foundation, Ms Elisabeth Ahmadi, the Oltramare Foundation and the German Ambassador in Geneva/Bern.
This year's award has shown that the MEA has the potential to generate the kind of publicity that brings protection to HRDs and that is what the MEA is ultimately all about. The Award may be even more important now that the general climate for HRDs has worsened with the 11/9 aftershock. On behalf of the award winners and the ten NGOs on the MEA Jury, listed on the front page, we would like to thank most profoundly all those who have supported the MEA in 2002.