The three nominees for the 2012 award are:
Venerable Luon Sovath, Cambodia. Buddhist monk in Chi Kreng pagoda in Siem Reap, Venerable Loun Sovath began his work as a human rights defender in March 2009 after two members of his family were shot by the military police during a forced eviction in Chi Kreng. The Venerable Sovath arrived just after the shooting, and filmed the ongoing violence while also obtaining footage of the incident taken by members of the community. He soon became a focal point for the victimised villagers and an irritation for authorities. He was interrogated by the police chief and asked to hand over the CD and all its copies, which the Venerable refused. Pressure intensified. Despite threats of violence, arrest and ongoing police intimidation, the Venerable Sovath, a non-violent Buddhist monk, uses videos, poems and songs to defend the right to housing, but his advocacy touches powerful economic interests. The threats against Venerable Sovath are very real.
Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a woman human rights lawyer from Iran, known for defending juveniles facing death penalty, prisoners of conscience, human rights activists and children victims of abuse, is currently serving a six-year sentence in Section 350 of Evin prison on charges of “spreading propaganda against the State”, “collusion and gathering with the aim of acting against national security” and “membership in an illegal organization [the Defenders of Human Rights Centre – DHRC]”. She is the former lawyer and member of the DHRC, the organisation of the now-exiled Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, who declares Ms. Sotoudeh is “one of the last remaining courageous human rights lawyers who has accepted all risks for defending the victims of human rights violations in Iran”.
The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) is internationally recognised for its work on documenting human rights abuses in Bahrain. Despite harassment by the Government, who warns of legal action against the Centre’s members if they continue their activities, the BCHR provides information to international NGOs and the diplomatic community in Bahrain and advocates locally and internationally in support of demands for democratic change in the Gulf Kingdom.
The nominees were carefully selected by ten human rights organisations which make up the Martin Ennals Award Jury: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, the International Federation for Human Rights, the World Organisation Against Torture, Frontline, the International Commission of Jurists, German Diakonie, the International Service for Human Rights and HURIDOCS.
On 2 October 2012, the Laureate will be announced during the annual ceremony at Victoria Hall, organized in cooperation with the Ville de Genève.