Liberty rewards human rights heroes in annual awards ceremony

16 November 2012

Liberty will honour outstanding human rights leaders at the annual Liberty Human Rights Awards, which will be held at Southbank Centre on Monday evening. The awards recognise and encourage individuals and organisations whose work is dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of others.

This year nominees include politicians, journalists, campaigners, community leaders, lawyers, artists and young people, all of whom have made significant contributions on the frontline of human rights issues. Groups that have worked tirelessly to expose the truth about the Hillsborough Disaster are nominated, as is Lord Pannick for consistently holding the Government to account on the rule of law, and the musician Baaba Maal for his work promoting global human rights and equality.

The awards will also celebrate the next generation of human rights defenders. The ‘Human Rights Young Person of the Year’ category includes Martha Payne for her school meals blog, the Scottish Youth Parliament for their work promoting marriage equality and Eilidh Naismith and Billy Davidson for their creative and inspiring work on the “Send my Friend to School” campaign.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said:

“Liberty is honoured to be celebrating the inspiring achievements of our nominees, every one of whom is to be commended for the real impact their work has had in safeguarding rights and liberties.

“In this climate of secret courts and Snoopers’ Charters and amidst continuing attacks upon the Human Rights Act, it is more important than ever that their efforts are awarded the recognition that they so deserve.”

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


1. Awards will be made in the following categories:

  • Independent Voice of the Year. Nominees:

- Lord Pannick: For his vocal and forensic opposition to the Justice and Security Bill as a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords.

- Salma Yaqoob: Since entering public life, Salma Yaqoob has been an independent advocate for peace, social justice and equality.

- The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt. Rev. James Jones: Appointed in 1998, the Right Reverend James Jones is an advocate of freedom of conscience and has called for the diversity of ethical views which exist within the Church of England to be respected and accommodated.

  • Human Rights Campaigner of the Year. Nominees:

- Open Rights Group: For their effective campaigning work to defend freedom of expression and civil liberties in the digital age.

- For revolutionising online activism and mobilising support from thousands of people through their online petitions.

- 38 Degrees: For their innovative and successful online campaigning which has, in a very short time, made a huge impact in the way social change is effected.

- Blacklist Support Group: For their steadfast support of construction workers who have been denied their livelihoods by being put on a blacklist by employers.

  • Human Rights Arts Award (in association with the Southbank Centre). Nominees:

- Baaba Maal: For his work promoting global human rights and equality.

- Mark Cousins: For aspiring to provide the gift of film to so many children whilst compassionately producing and directing poignant films in war-torn environments.

- Jenny Sealey: For her tireless work with deaf and disabled artists.

- Deborah Warner and Fiona Shaw: For their collaborative work on Peace Camp 2012, a coastal installation celebrating love poetry and the extraordinary variety and beauty of the UK’s coastline as part of the London 2012 Festival.

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

- Ashley John-Baptiste: For highlighting the plight of vulnerable children within Britain’s care home system.

- Mark Neary: For his long and well-fought battle to secure his autistic son’s liberty after Steven was detained for a year under the ‘deprivation of liberty safeguards’ (DoLs).

- Aaron Sonson, Satwant Singh Kenth, Gregory Paczkowski: For providing important public information about individual rights and the potential abuse of police powers through their mobile app “Stop and Search”.

  • Human Rights Lawyer of the Year. Nominees:

- Ben Cooper: For his committed and tireless work on some of the most complex and difficult extradition cases.

- Raggi Kotak of One Pump Court: For her ceaseless commitment to women’s rights, most notably her cases involving violence against women and trafficking.

- Michael Oswald at Bhatt Murphy: For outstanding work in the field of civil actions against the police.

  • Human Rights Young Person of the Year. Nominees:

- Scottish Youth Parliament: For their inspiring “Love Equally” campaign, set up to promote marriage equality in Scotland.

- Martha Payne: For defending free expression when she stood up to her local council after they banned her publishing pictures of school meals on her blog, NeverSeconds.

- Eilidh Naismith and Billy Davidson: For their work on the “Send my Friend to School” campaign, where they presented a vision of how the future could look, in the form of a newspaper dated 2025, if all children in the word received a primary education by 2015.

  • Human Rights ‘Long Walk’ Award. Nominees:

- “Mau Mau” Litigants: For the staunch commitment of a group of Kenyans to get justice for their horrific torture and inhuman and degrading treatment by the British colonial administration during the uprising in the 1950s.

- Hillsborough Family Support Group, Hillsborough Justice Campaign and Hope for Hillsborough: For their unwavering dedication to seeking justice for the 96 victims, their families and the survivors of the - Hillsborough Disaster.

- Medical Justice: Established to protect the human rights of detainees and to expose the challenges of healthcare provision in immigration detention centres, Medical Justice has fought hard to change the attitude that those in detention are ‘sub-human’ through policy and practise in detention centres themselves.