The European Parliament supports human rights

The respect for human rights is one of the European Union's fundamental values. Any violation of these rights affects the democratic principles upon which our society is founded, whether they take place within or outside the EU.  The European Parliament fights such violations through legislative action, including election observation, monthly human rights debates in Strasbourg and by enshrining human rights in its external trade agreements.

The European Parliament also supports human rights through the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, established in 1988.  The prize is awarded to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe, drawing attention to human rights violations as well as supporting the laureates and their cause.

Raif BADAWI - 2015 Laureate of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

Raif Badawi is a Saudi Arabian blogger, writer and activist and the creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals, an online platform for political and religious debate. Reportedly, his website hosted material criticizing senior religious figures and Badawi suggested that the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University had become a den for terrorists.

He was arrested in 2012 on a charge of insulting Islam and indicted on several charges including apostasy. He was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in 2013, and then resentenced to 1,000 lashes and ten years in prison plus a fine in 2014. The first 50 lashes were administered before hundreds of spectators on 9 January, 2015. Subsequent sets have been postponed in the face of international condemnation and Badawi's dire state of health. Having received death threats, his wife and three children fled to Canada. His sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2015 and he remains in jail.

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How is the winner chosen?

Infographic: How is the Sakharov Prize winner chosen?

In September each year MEPs can nominate candidates for the Sakharov Prize. Each nominee must have the support of at least 40 MEPs, and each individual Member may support only one nominee. Signed nominations accompanied by supporting evidence are then assessed in a joint meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) and the Committee on Development (DEVE). A shortlist of three candidates is drawn up through a vote by AFET and DEVE committees, and then submitted to the Conference of Presidents for a final vote. The winner is usually announced in October, and the award ceremony takes place in November/December at plenary sitting in Strasbourg.


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