News 2015-08-14

Laureates Show Solidarity with Patkar's Protest

1991 Laureate Medha Patkar (India) and her colleagues at Narmada Bachao Andolan have begun a six-day march through the banks of the Narmada river on 6 August. They are protesting the decision by the Indian government to raise the water level of the Sardar Sarovar Dam.

The march culminated in a Jal Satyagrah, a method of protesting by standing in water, in the Narmada on 12 August. This will continue until the government reverses its decision to raise the level of the dam. The proposed plan would lead to the displacement of thousands of families and the denial of lawful rehabilitation and land ownership rights.

44 Laureates from 31 countries have signed a petition in support of Medha Patkar and her protest.

Read the petition in English and Hindi.

News 2015-06-11

Letter of solidarity to Laureate Zafrullah Chowdhury

Zafrullah Chowdhury (RLA 1992) signed a joint statement against a judgment of the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh, which had ruled that a British journalist's blog was in contempt of court. As a result, Chowdhury was sentenced to 1 hour in the custody of the court and the payment of a fine by the same court.

Basil Fernando, Director of Asian Human Rights Commission, addressed the issue in an open letter to Zafrullah Chowdhury: "We need to also remind ourselves that our justice systems are failing us, and failing us badly… Developing good systems of justice is one of the major areas where we have failed. Not enough of us speak out about this. Your wisdom in reminding us of this needs to be appreciated."

The RLA recently submitted an urgent appeal to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, to urge him to issue a public statement about Chowdury's conviction. Read the press release


News 2015-06-03

NSA surveillance programme reformed by new legislation

President Obama signed a bill that overhauls the NSA surveillance programme that has been in place since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The Freedom Act would mark the end of a system exposed by Edward Snowden (RLA Laureate 2014).

The new legislation will no longer allow the NSA to look into Americans' information records in bulk. Rather, it will leave the records in the hands of phone companies and provide the government with the ability to seek access only with a warrant. The bill also improves transparency processes for decisions in surveillance courts.

News 2015-05-22

Hissène Habré trial to begin on 20 July

Hissene Habré, the former dictator of Chad, will stand trial for charges of crimes against humanity, torture, and war crimes before a special court in Senegal on 20 July. Laureate Jacqueline Moudeina has been the driving force behind the struggle to bring the former dictator to justice. This will also be the first universal jurisdiction case to proceed to trial in Africa.

A new short documentary by Spanish director Isabel Coixet, "Talking about Rose", examines the life and death of Rose Lokissim, one of the prisoners of Hissène Habré. Her story inspired many campaigns for justice in Chad.

Read the update on Habré's trial.

News 2015-05-20

Laureates condemn incitement to murder Agnivesh

Thirty-one Laureates from 27 countries have signed a joint statement in support of 2004 Laureate Swami Agnivesh who was threatened by an extremist group at the end of April.

Members of an extremist group have offered a reward of 500,000 Indian Rupees to anyone that beheads Agnivesh. A number of Indian media outlets have reported this in a manner that we believe constitutes incitement to murder.

The Board and the staff of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, together with the 31 Laureates express our strong support for Swami Agnivesh. We call for those inciting his murder to be held accountable to the rule of law.

Read the joint statement in English and Hindi.

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