The Irish Centre for Human Rights, together with the Office of the European Parliament inIreland, will host a debate to celebrate the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The event will take place on Tuesday, 18 October, at 5pm in Áras Uí Chatháil, NUI Galway.
Since 1988, in the spirit of Andrei Sakharov, the European Parliament has awarded the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to honour individuals or organisations for their efforts on behalf of human rights, fundamental freedoms and against oppression and injustice.
This reflects the conviction of the Parliament that fundamental freedoms includes not only the right to life and physical integrity, but also freedom of expression and of the press, two of the most effective means of fighting oppression and key yardsticks by which to judge whether a society is democratic and open. The winner is awarded the prize, along with an endowment of €50,000, at a formal sitting inStrasbourgto take place on Saturday, 10 December, the day on which the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948.
This year there are five nominees, one of which lists five members of the ‘Arab Spring’. At the NUI Galway event, students from the Irish Centre for Human Rights will represent a nominee for the Sakharov Prize and will give a short presentation and argue the case as to why their chosen nominee should be given the award. Following the presentations, the floor will be opened for debate, after which the audience will take part in a vote to choose who they believe should receive the award.
Representatives of the European Parliament will convey the results from the NUI Galway debate back to the Parliament’s Human Rights Sub-Committee, where the next stage of deliberations is due to take place on 20 October.
Deputy Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, Dr Vinodh Jaichand, said, “This debate is a real opportunity to participate in the selection of an outstanding advocate of freedom of thought and expression, a person whose courage has made a difference.”