FAQ – Civil Rights Defenders of the Year Award

What is the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award?

The Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award is an award for outstanding work in defence of civil and political rights. It is awarded every year by Civil Rights Defenders. With the award, we recognise a prominent human rights defender who, despite the risk to their own safety, continues the struggle for civil and political rights. The award highlights the situation of human rights defenders at risk. It enhances their human rights work by providing international recognition and support to the award recipient.

Who is Civil Rights Defenders?

Civil Rights Defenders is a politically and religiously independent human rights organisation headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. Our vision is a world of democratic societies in which we all enjoy our civil and political rights. We defend civil and political rights together with local human rights defenders to increase their security, capacity, and access to justice. Read more about our work here.

Since when have you been awarding the Civil Rights Defenders of the Year Award?

Civil Rights Defenders has awarded the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award every year since 2013.

How do you select the award recipient?

The recipient of each award is selected by the Board of Civil Rights Defenders. The selection is made from candidates presented to the Board by the organisation’s secretariat. The secretariat makes their choices based on nominations submitted from our worldwide network of human rights defenders, human rights organisations, and other relevant partners. 

How can I nominate someone for the award?

Nomination for the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award is by invitation only. Civil Rights Defenders invites its worldwide network of human rights defenders and human rights organisations to nominate candidates for the award. Read more about the nomination and selection process here.

Why is OVD-Info receiving this year’s award? 

OVD-Info plays a central role in the struggle for democracy in Russia and they are a vital source of independent information on political persecution in Russia. Despite the fact that Russian authorities are doing everything in their power to stifle civil society and silence independent media, OVD-Info tirelessly continues to spread information about the repression and help those affected. Projects like OVD-Info keep the hope of democracy alive, and we want to recognise their courage and dedication by giving them this award. 

Aren’t there other human rights defenders who deserve attention?  

Civil Rights Defenders supports thousands of human rights defenders from all over the world. We are proud to be able to continue these partnerships and everyone is equally important. Each year several high-quality nominations are submitted by Civil Rights Defenders’ network. Civil Rights Defenders’ Board chooses the candidate that meets the criteria the best.    

Democracy is threatened all over the world, why are you focusing on Russia?  

For many years now we have seen a dramatic decline in democracy, human rights, and rule of law, and Civil Rights Defenders supports human rights defenders in more than 50 of the world’s most repressive countries. The situation in Russia is one of many in the world in need of urgent attention. Civil society in Russia is under attack. Putin’s regime shows total disregard for people’s civil and political rights and will do anything to remain in power. New repressive laws and increasing political violence are a death sentence for civil society and dissent.   

What type of work are you doing in Russia?  

Civil Rights Defenders has been monitoring the situation for human rights in Russia since Civil Rights Defenders was founded, especially issues concerning political persecution, freedom of speech and assembly and the shrinking space for civil society. Read more about our Russia work here.

Are you against the Russian government?  

Civil Rights Defenders is a non-partisan organisation. We are not affiliated with any political party, in Sweden or in any other country. Civil Rights Defenders will, however, always work for human rights. We therefore hold governments and those in power accountable, and demand accountability when people’s civil and political rights are violated. Putin’s regime shows a total disregard for civil and political rights which endangers human rights defenders, and we are against these actions.   

Does the award make any difference?  

The award creates recognition and credibility of human rights defenders and their work. Many times, the recognition also works as a protective shield against threats and attacks directed at the recipient and their organisation. Human rights defenders operate under extreme pressure and the psychosocial aspects of recognition and support helps endure this pressure while at the same time governments and those on power become aware that the world is watching them.     

Will the award make OVD-info’s work more difficult?  

The award is a recognition of the laureate’s important work, and this type of recognition can often increase the laureate’s safety as it shows that the outside world is watching.  We then maintain a close dialogue with each year’s laureates on everything related to the prize to ensure that it benefits the winner.

What does the prize consist of?  

The prize consists of a statuette, a diploma and a joint effort with the award recipient to raise awareness about their work. 

Who are the past award recipients?

The award recipients typically work in countries in which they are not free to do their vital human rights work, or in which their rights to do so are under attack. In response, they have stood up to defend civil and political rights for both themselves and for others. For a full list of past award recipients, see here.

How can I contribute to the work of Civil Rights Defenders?

The easiest way to contribute to our work is via a gift to Civil Rights Defenders. Your gift strengthens human rights defenders in some of the world’s most repressive regions. Click here to learn how to give.

How do you ensure that the money is used in the right way?  

Civil Rights Defenders is a non-profit organisation controlled by Svensk Insamlingskontroll (org.nr. 802011-1442). In our annual reports and effect reports you can read more about our work and financing here.  

How are you financed?  

Our work is financed by governmental organisations, the Swedish Postcode Lottery, foundations, and through corporate partnerships, as well as contributions from the public. 

I’m a journalist and have questions about the award. How do I get in touch?

Press inquires are welcome. You can reach us at +46 (0)76 576 27 62 or press@crd.org.