At its 199th Executive Committee meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa this week politicians from around the world voted to award Liberal International’s highest human rights honour – the Prize for Freedom – to imprisoned Philippines political prisoner, Senator Leila de Lima.
Liberal International was one of the first international organisations to campaign for Senator De Lima’s release and has taken the case the United Nations Human Rights Council and rallied parliamentarians across Europe. Most recently was denied the opportunity to meet with the Liberal senator.
The Chairman of Liberal International’s Human Rights Committee, Mr Markus Löning, who met with Senator De Lima in July this year, said of the 2018 Prize for Freedom Laureate: “Leila De Lima has been a flag-bearer for human rights in the Philippines and beyond, setting a shining example for other human rights defenders. Even from inside the prison she keeps fighting for the rule of law and the dignity of individuals. She should immediately be released from pre-trial detention.”
LI president Dr Juli Minoves (left) and LI human rights committee chair Markus Löning (right) attempt a meeting with Sen. De Lima in July this year.
Senator De Lima, a vocal and ardent critic the Philippines authoritarian president Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called ‘war of drugs’, has been held in pre-trial detention on politically motivated charges since February 2017. She will be the second-ever Filipino to receive the Human Rights Prize, after Corazon Aquino in 1987, who was honoured for her world-renowned advocacy of democracy, peace, and the empowerment of women.
LI’s Prize for Freedom is awarded to “a well-known personality of liberal conviction who has made outstanding efforts for the defence of freedom and human rights.” Previous recipients include the imprisoned Saudi liberal blogger, Raif Badawi (2016), Helen Suzman (2002), Martin Lee (1996) and was first awarded in 1986.
More than 100 liberals from 32 countries were registered to participate in Liberal Internationals’ 199th Executive Committee meeting.