Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a refugee and human rights defender, who has spent nearly six years detained by the Australian Government on Manus Island, was overnight awarded the prestigious Martin Ennals Award.
The Award is an annual prize for human rights advocates given by a jury of 10 of the world's leading human rights NGOs.
"This award sheds light on the very cruel refugee policy of the Australian Government. It also brings international attention to the dangers and ill-treatment faced by refugees all over the world, including in countries that claim they uphold the Refugee Convention," said Abdul Aziz Muhamat.
Previous laureates include, Harry Wu, a Chinese political prisoner, Asma Jahangir, a lawyer and human rights defender from Pakistan, and Akbar Ganji, an Iranian journalist.
Abdul Aziz Muhamat’s recognition marks the first time in the Award’s history that the human rights defender is someone who is advocating against violations perpetrated by a western developed country and who is at risk because of that state.
"This award is a historic and significant recognition of the courage and endurance of Aziz, who has tirelessly advocated for the rights of refugees held in cruel and inhumane conditions for nearly six years," said Katie Robertson, a Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre.
"It also shines a powerful light on the Australian Government’s harmful policy of detaining men women and children in offshore camps. This is a powerful reminder that the world is watching."
For interviews call:
Alycia Gawthorne, Communications Officer, Human Rights Law Centre, 0425 016