Liberty honours human rights heroes in annual awards ceremony

22 November 2013

Liberty will reward outstanding human rights heroes at its annual Liberty Human Rights Awards, which will be held at Southbank Centre in London on Monday evening.

The event will recognise those individuals and organisations that have dedicated themselves to protecting and promoting the rights of others throughout the year. It is also an opportunity to say thank you – not only to those shortlisted for awards, but to everyone who has fought to further defend and extend our rights and freedoms.

This year’s nominees include young people, families, campaigners, lawyers, activists and artists – all of whom have made memorable contributions to the human rights agenda in 2013. Alexander Perkins is nominated, for his campaign calling for Afghan interpreters who worked with British Armed Forces to be given the right to settle in Britain; as is Hamja Ahsan for his creative and innovative campaign highlighting the plight of his brother, Talha, who was extradited to the US in October last year. Barrister Stephanie Harrison QC is shortlisted for her prowess and commitment as an advocate for human rights and peaceful protest, while the Helen Bamber Foundation is among the organisations nominated for the Collective Voice Award.

Once again the event will celebrate the next generation of human rights defenders – this year via The Christine Jackson Young Person Award, named after the former Chair of the Civil Liberties Trust who passed away this year aged 71. The category features Jinan Younis, who overcame widespread hostility to set up a feminist society at her all-girls’ school; the NUS Black Students’ Campaign, for their work promoting religious freedom and cultural expression in persuading Birmingham Metropolitan College to make a common-sense u-turn on its Muslim face veils ban; and May Gabriel, for her campaign to encourage more open discussion about mental health.

And there will also be two special awards handed out at the ceremony – the Independent Voice of the Year and a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: “It’s been a turbulent year for freedom – the scale of blanket surveillance was laid bare, attacks on our legal system undermined open justice and dog-whistle politics fuels a cheap and nasty anti-human rights rhetoric.

“But our shortlist reminds us there are still wonderful people willing to fight for precious values – not for personal gain but because they believe in a free, fair society. This is our way of saying thank you.”

Contact: Liberty Press Office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831128



1. Awards will be made in the following categories:

  • Human Rights Arts Award, in association with Southbank Centre. Nominees:

- Celeste Dandeker-Arnold, OBE: For her work as co-founder and former Artistic Director of Candoco Dance Company, the UK’s first integrated dance company featuring disabled and able-bodied dancers.

- Deeyah: An acclaimed musician and music producer who has been an outspoken support of women’s rights and freedom of expression.

- Ahdaf Soueif: The Egyptian novelist, political and cultural commentator and activist’s work conveys her commitment to truth and justice and reflects her tireless work for the rights of every person for ‘bread, freedom and social justice’ in Egypt and beyond.

  • Collective Voice Award. Nominees:

- Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru – National Assembly for Wales: For its landmark action condemning blacklisting and seeking its eradication from public sector procurement in Wales.

- Helen Bamber Foundation: Created in 2005, the Foundation continues to support survivors from over 90 countries, providing specialist care to those who have suffered human rights violations as a result of human trafficking, war, community, domestic or gender-based violence.

- Holocaust Educational Trust: For providing education, training and outreach programmes to combat anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice in schools, colleges and the community over the last 25 years.

  • The Christine Jackson Young Person Award. Nominees:

- May Gabriel: For her It’s OK Campaign to encourage more open discussion about mental health and to remove the dangerous stigma that alienates young people suffering from depression.

- NUS Black Students’ Campaign: For their work promoting religious freedom and cultural expression – their high-profile and effective campaign persuaded Birmingham Metropolitan College to make a common-sense u-turn on its ban of Muslim face veils.

- Jinan Younis: For showing enormous dignity and courage in overcoming hostile resistance both from within and outside her school community to set up a feminist society at her all-girls’ school.

  • Human Rights Lawyer of the Year. Nominees:

- Stephanie Harrison QC, Garden Court Chambers: For her prowess as an advocate for human rights and commitment to progressing the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers and contesting oppressive anti-terrorism measures.

- Shauneen Lambe, Lawrence & Co; Just for Kids Law: For the commitment she has shown to protecting the rights of children. Just for Kids Law provides advocacy and assistance to young people in difficulty, combining litigation with practical support.

- Mark Scott, Bhatt Murphy: For his outstanding work for the victimised and marginalised. Mark has successfully represented children held unlawfully in immigration detention, and the families of children who died in Secure Training Centres as a result of the application of unlawful restraint techniques.

  • Human Rights ‘Far from Home’ Award. Nominees:

- Hamja Ahsan: For his creative and innovative campaign highlighting the case of his brother, Talha – a British-born poet and writer with Aspergers syndrome who was detained without charge or trial for six years in the UK before being extradited to the US in October 2012.

- Susan Smith, Colin Redpath, Karla Ellis and Courtney Ellis: For their determined fight for justice for their loved ones, who were all killed in Snatch Land Rover vehicles in Iraq. The families took their campaign all the way to the Supreme Court and won – leaving a legacy of Human Rights Act protection for every service man and woman.

- Stand Fast for Justice – Reprieve: A campaign aimed at highlighting the treatment of over 100 prisoners engaged in a hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay to protest against their detention without charge or trial.

  • Human Rights ‘Close to Home’ Award. Nominees:

- Steven Green – BritCits: For his tireless work in defending the rights of international families and documenting the plight of divided families via his campaign group BritCits.

- Paul Houston: For his courageous defence of rights and freedoms in response to a toxic campaign that used his daughter Amy’s death to undermine the Human Rights Act.

- John Morgan & Michael Black and Steven Preddy & Martyn Hall: For taking a stand against anti-gay discrimination after being turned away by Christian accommodation providers. Both couples took cases to court and won.

  • Independent Voice of the Year: The 2013 Independent Voice Award recognises the courage it requires to speak out against injustice when others will not, to make a stand when no-one else will and to put the truth before all else, even at great cost.

  • Human Rights Campaigner of the Year Award. Nominees:

- Adeel Akhtar: For his recent campaign, set up in response to the scandalous detention of David Miranda at Heathrow Airport in August, calling for a review of the powers contained in Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act.

- Caroline Criado-Perez: For leading the campaign calling for the reinstating of a prominent female figure on the reverse of the UK’s currency, after Elizabeth Fry was removed from the £5 bank note.

- Alexander Perkins: For his campaign calling for Afghan interpreters who worked with British Armed Forces to be given the right to settle in Britain – and delivering a 60,000-strong petition to Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street.

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: The Lifetime Achievement Award recognises those truly exceptional people who have spent their lives working to protect the rights and freedoms of others. They remind us that fighting indignity and injustice will always be a fight worth having, because one person’s dedication to that principle can achieve extraordinary things.