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Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought-UCD students debate and vote

Students from the MSc/LLM programmes in Human Rights at University College Dublin took part in an event on 5 October 2012 at EU House Dublin to publicise the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and to promote the debate on the individual human rights issues to which the prize relates.  This was the second time that UCD students had taken part in such a debate.  

The overall winners of the student debate was Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Déogratias Mushayidi and Bernard Ntaganda, three Rwandan opposition representatives.

As part of the event, each of the initial list of nominees who had been submitted to the Parliament by political groups or 40 MEPS was represented by the students, who each gave a short presentation, and argued the case for the award to be given to "their" nominee.

Following the presentations, the floor was opened for debate with discussion on the merits of specific nominees, and on the criteria for their selection.

The audience was then asked to vote on which of the nominees to recommend for the 2012 Sakharov Prize.

The results of the vote by secret ballot by order of preference was as follows:

  • Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Déogratias Mushayidi and Bernard Ntaganda, three Rwandan opposition representatives
  • Nasrin Sotoudeh & Jafar Panahi, two Iranian human rights campaigners
  • Joseph Francis (Pakistan), founder of the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement
  • Ales Bialiatski, a human rights defender from Belarus
  • Pussy Riot, a Russian punk group (represented by Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina)

The three Rwandan opposition representatives, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Déogratias Mushayidi and Bernard Ntaganda, were thus chosen as the 2012 winner of the vote by the UCD students, with the Iranian nominees as the runners-up.

The organiser of the event was Dr Graham Finlay of the School of Politics and International Relations at UCD  in conjunction with Francis Jacobs of the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland.