Right Livelihood Award - April Newsletter*|MC_PREVIEW_TEXT|*
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Highlights from the 40th Human Rights Council Session
Last month, the Foundation participated in the 40th session of the Human Rights Council. By speaking and arranging events on behalf of Laureates, we brought their work to the immediate attention of world leaders.
Speaking before the Council, the Foundation took a stand against gross injustices carried out upon the 2018 Saudi Laureates, Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani, and Waleed Abu al-Khair, by their home country. We also organised an event highlightinghuman rights abuses in Saudi Arabia.
The Foundation brought together five Laureates to discuss the worsening situation for women human rights defenders around the world. "We need female human rights defenders in order to really change the environment on the ground, and to make the environment conducive for the women to exercise their basic human rights," said 2012 Laureate Sima Samar, from Afghanistan.
We will continue to use the privilege of our UN consultative status to facilitate Laureate's work in future Council sessions. Read more about our other statements, events, and activities from this session.
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Corruption and Impunity in Guatemala
"What do we want from the judiciary system of Guatemala? It should be independent, and it should fight for justice!" said Iván Velásquez, Head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and 2018 Laureate. Through the leadership of CICIG, Velásquez spearheaded a campaign to tackle deep-rooted criminal networks and corruption in Guatemala. In cooperation with fellow Laureate Thelma Aldana, this campaign successfully identified 60 criminal structures, generated more than 310 convictions, and resulted in 34 legal reforms being proposed. Speaking at the Geneva International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights, Velásquez called for international actors to support the Guatemalan citizens working to strengthen justice, rule of law, and democratic institutions in the country. Catch up on the Twitter discussion.
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Oyub Titiev Sentenced to four years in prison
On 18 March, the Head of the Human Rights Center at Memorial’s Chechen office, Mr Oyub Titiev, was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of drug possession. The Foundation has been following Titiev's trial from the start. "The trial against Oyub Titiev has been a farce from day one. It’s not every day that you come across such a well-documented case of a political trial based on fabricated charges," said Fabiana Leibl, Head of Protection and Advocacy at the Foundation.
Just days before the sentencing, we had spoken before the UN Human Rights Council demanding Titiev's release. Even now, "we urge the Russian authorities to unconditionally release Oyub Titiev straight away, drop all charges against him, cease the harassment of Memorial’s staff, and guarantee accountability for the attacks against Memorial’s workers and offices," said Leibl. We will continue to monitor the situation and advocate for his release.
Memorial received the Right Livelihood Award in 2004 "...for showing, in traumatic times, the importance of understanding the historical roots of human rights abuse, to secure respect for them in the future."
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"To guarantee the human right to water, we must protect it"
"Our goal must be clean, affordable, accessible, public water, for all, for everywhere, for all time," said Canadian Laureate and Water Rights Activist, Maude Barlow. On 22 March, the International Day of Water, the Foundation wrote an article in acknowledgement of Barlow's important work and proudly became a Blue Community Ambassador. The Blue Communities project, founded by Barlow, encourages municipalities and communities to support the idea of a water commons framework. "To truly guarantee the human right to water, we must protect it as a public trust and a commons, not a commodity to be put on open market for sale like oil and gas," said Barlow.