Oyub Titiev and Nabeel Rajab among the three shortlisted finalists for the Vaclav Havel Prize 2018

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FIDH welcomes the shortlisting of two of its members, Nabeel Rajab and Oyub Titiev, as finalists for the Council of Europe’s human rights prize. FIDH considers their pre-selection as a strong signal to Bahreini and Russian authorities regarding the arbitrary prosecution and detention of the latter renown human rights defenders.

FIDH Deputy Secretary General Nabeel Rajab (Bahrain) is arbitrarily in detained since 2016. In June 2018, the Bahrain High Criminal Court of Appeal upheld Nabeel’s five-year jail term for Tweets condemning the use of torture in Jaw Prison and the bombings of the Saudi coalition in Yemen. Sentenced to a total of seven years imprisonment resulting from trials that made a mockery of justice, his health has steadily deteriorated. Co-founder and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), and founding director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), Deputy Secretary General of FIDH, Nabeel is also member of the Middle East Advisory Committee to Human Rights Watch.

Head of Grozny office of FIDH member organisation Human Rights Centre "Memorial", Oyub Titiev (Russia) is being detained since January 2018. Currently on trial on trumped up charges of drug possession, Oyub Titiev risks up to ten years in prison. Titiev denies all allegations and insists that the drugs had been planted in his car by the Chechen police. Up to his detention, Oyub Titiev led the branch of the last human rights organisation based in Chechnya, investigating cases of extrajudicial killings, torture and ill-treatment by Chechen authorities. In 2009, he replaced his predecessor Natalia Estemirova, kidnapped and murdered for her human rights work.

The third nominee is a young Cuban democracy and human rights activist Rosa María Payá leading a citizens’ initiative Cuba Decide (Cuba Decides). She’s also the President of the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy.

Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize rewards outstanding civil society action in the defence of human rights in Europe and beyond. Founded in 2013, the prize is awarded in memory of Vaclav Havel, former President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, known for his actions in favour of civic activism, direct democracy and dissidence to the communist rule.

The winner of the prize 2018 is due to be announced at the opening of the autumn plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg on 8 October 2018 at 12.30 pm.

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