ZimRights to honour rights defenders

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HARARE – Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) is honouring outstanding human rights defenders who have exposed rights violations and campaigned for redress for victims.

Twenty prizes will be awarded this year, up from 14 handed out last year by Zimrights, a group of 58 civic organisations, including church and legal groups.

Human rights defenders (HRD) are individuals, groups of people or organisations who promote and protect human rights through peaceful and non-violent means.

They uncover rights violations, subject violations to public scrutiny, press for those responsible to be accountable, empower individuals and communities to claim their basic entitlements as human beings.

Human rights defenders include journalists exposing human rights violations, community workers teaching human rights education, trade unionists defending workers’ rights, women working for the promotion of reproductive rights and environmentalists highlighting the impact of development projects on indigenous people’s land rights.

Okay Machisa, ZimRights national director, told a news conference yesterday that the human rights awards honour grassroots-based community campaigners for their contribution towards the promotion, protection and defence of human rights in their community and the country as a whole.

“Three nominees are drawn from each province and the winner is chosen by a panel of adjudicators,” Machisa told reporters.

“In 2013, ZimRights is delighted to announce that we have expanded the categories from 14 in 2012 to 20 categories this year.

“The new categories include the Female Human Rights Artist of the Year, Male Human Rights Artist of the Year and the Peace Ambassador of the Year, Outspoken MP of the Year, Peace Ambassador and Outstanding HRD of the Year from People Living with Disabilities.”

Other categories are outstanding HRD for each of the 10 Zimbabwean provinces, Outstanding HR Journalist of the Year, Outstanding Youth HRD of the Year and Overall HRD of the Year.

The outstanding human rights defenders will be crowned at an awards dinner to be held in Bulawayo on December 12 at a ceremony organised by ZimRights and Bulawayo Agenda.

“Award winners will receive a shield or trophy and a cash prize from the guest of honour,” Machisa said.

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