The 2015 Front Line Defenders Award

Finalists for the 2015 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk

On Wednesday 4 March the Jury for the 2015 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk announced the 5 finalists for this year's Award, all of whom are either in jail, in hiding or face the threat of jail because of their peaceful work defending the rights of others.

The Jury, consisting of: Mr Pat Breen TD, Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Senator Averil Power, Mr Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture and the Marine, Mr Ruairi Quinn TD, Mr Sami Alhaj, representing Al Jazeera and Ms Noeline Blackwell, Board of Trustees, Front Line Defenders received nominations from 27 countries.

"As we celebrate the courage and commitment of 5 exceptional human rights defenders it is a matter of deep concern that all of the Finalists for this year's Front Line Defenders Award are either in jail, in hiding or face the threat of jail simply because they have the courage to defend the rights of others" said Mary Lawlor, Executive Director, Front Line Defenders, following the jury meeting which took place in Buswell's Hotel in Dublin.

The Finalists for the 2015 Front Line Defenders Award are:

Juan Carlos Flores Solís Mexico, an environmental rights campaigner, was recently released from prison, but has a charge pending, because he led the opposition of local peasant and indigenous communities to the construction of a gas pipeline on their land near an active volcano.

Diane Marie Rodríguez Zambrano Ecuador, LGBTI rights activist and the first trans woman to stand for public office in Ecuador is currently living iin a safe house following death threats because of her work promoting the rights of the transgender community.

Guo Feixiong a Chinese legal activist, also known has Yang Maodong, has been repeatedly jailed and brutally tortured for challenging corruption, defending the rights of human rights defenders, minority groups and small farmers whose land had been confiscated. He is currently in prison awaiting sentencing.

Rasul Jafarov one of the most prominent HRDs in Azerbaijan, was arrested on bogus charges of “ illegal enterprise, tax evasion, and abuse of official power. A lawyer by profession, Rasul Jafarov is Head of the Human Rights Club and Coordinator of the Art for Democracy campaign, which has launched several campaigns against politically-motivated imprisonment, including the Sing for Democracy campaign which took place in the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2012. His is still in detention and his trial is ongoing.

Yara Sallam - Egypt is a human rights lawyer with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). On 21 June 2014, she was arrested with other protesters during a peaceful demonstration against the controversial “Protest Law”. On 29 October 2014, Yara, and a number of other activists, were convicted on these charges, despite the absence of credible evidence and clear inconsistencies in police reports of the event. She was sentenced to three years' imprisonment,three years' police monitoring and a fine of 10,000 Egyptian Pounds (approx. €1,098). This sentence was later reduced on appeal to two years' imprisonment, two years' monitoring and no fine.

It is hoped that the publicity surrounding the Front Line Defenders Award will help the 5 finalists to build international support for their work.

The winner of the 2015 Front Line Defenders Award will be announced at an event in Dublin's City Hall on 11 September 2015.