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25-09-2012

Nominations for 2012 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought presented by MEPs

Five nominations for the 2012 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought were presented at a joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Development committees and the Subcommittee on Human Rights on Tuesday. They are Ales Bialiatski, Joseph Francis, a group of Rwandan opposition members (Victoire Ingabire, Déogratias Mushayidi, Bernard Ntaganda), Pussy Riot and two Iranian activists (Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi).

The nominees were each presented by their "sponsors", i.e. a political group or a group of at least 40 MEPs. The winner of the Sakharov Prize will be chosen in October and awarded €50,000.

The  nominations are:

Ales Bialiatski, a human rights defender from Belarus.

Joseph Francis (Pakistan), founder of the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Déogratias Mushayidi and Bernard Ntaganda, three Rwandan opposition representatives.

Pussy Riot, a Russian punk group (represented by Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina).

Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi, two Iranian human rights campaigners.

"The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought seeks to honour individuals or organisations for their efforts on behalf of human rights, democracy and freedom of expression and their struggle against intolerance and oppression", noted Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Elmar Brok.

"This is not just a routine operation, but an opportunity which allows all members to see the candidates for the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought; freedom, which all too often is under attack from various sides", said Human Rights Sub-Committee Vice-chair Joanna Senyszyn (S&D, PL).

Next steps

The Foreign affairs and Development committees will vote on three finalists on 9 October and the Conference of Presidents will decide on the Laureate on 26 October. The laureate will be invited to the joint meeting of Foreign affairs and Development committees and the Human Rights Sub-committee on Monday 10 December in Strasbourg. The award ceremony will be held in plenary session on 12 December.

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