The fifth Václav Havel Human Rights Prize – which honors outstanding civil society action in defense of human rights – has been awarded to Turkish supporter of the independence of the judiciary Murat Arslan.
In detention since 2016, Murat Arslan is a former Rapporteur of the Turkish Constitutional Court and President of the now dissolved Association for the Union of Judges and Prosecutors (YARSAV). He is a staunch supporter of the independence of the judiciary.
The two other shortlisted nominees – the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, an NGO which particularly focuses on access to justice and the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, and Father Georg Sporschill (Austria), a Jesuit who has devoted his life to the care of the most vulnerable, notably children, also received diplomas during the ceremony.
The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is awarded each year by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation. The first Václav Havel Prize was awarded in 2013 to Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski. The Azerbaijani human rights defender Anar Mammadli won the Prize in 2014, and veteran Russian human rights defender Ludmilla Alexeeva was the winner in 2015. Last year’s winner was Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad.