Former Lanka based US diplomats get top awards

Winners of the 2014 Human Rights Awards

logo-awards-2015_014583665452-365x300Two former Sri Lanka based US diplomats are among the winners of the 2014 Human Rights Awards, the US Satte Department said.

The State Department said that Michael Honigstein and Michael Ervin are the recipients of the Human Rights and Democracy Achievement Award, while Azimjon Askarov of Kyrgyzstan and Foro Penal, a Venezuelan non-governmental organization, are the recipients of the Human Rights Defender Award.

The Human Rights and Democracy Achievement Award honors U.S. Department of State employees who have implemented creative strategies to support human rights and democracy.

While serving at Embassy Colombo, Michael Honigstein and Michael Ervin combined advocacy and protection in the face of government threats with thoughtful bilateral and multilateral policy consideration. Their work was critical in defending human rights activists, opening space for dialogue for civil society, and identifying areas for constructive U.S. engagement.

The Human Rights Defender Award is given to individuals or non-governmental organizations that have shown exceptional valor and leadership in advocating for the protection of human rights and democracy.

Azimjon Askarov founded an organization to monitor police brutality in Kyrgyzstan and led several high profile investigations against law enforcement, uncovering abuse that resulted in prosecutions of officials.

Foro Penal, with its nationwide pro-bono network of over 200 lawyers and 1,000 human rights defenders, became an important source for independent information about the 2014 protests in Venezuela and those detained for their alleged involvement. (Colombo Gazette)