Sir Henry Brooke Awards for Human Rights Defenders 2020 assigned to Dina Meza and Reinaldo Villalba Vargas
On December 7, 2020, Peace Brigades International UK, Simmons & Simmons and the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk will host the third annual Sir Henry Brooke Awards for Human Rights Defenders. The award is an opportunity to celebrate Sir Henry Brooke and the work of other lawyers and human rights defenders (HRDs) committed to the rule of law. This is increasingly prescient as civil liberties and human rights lawyers come under increasing fire all over the world. HRDs are vital to the defence of fundamental freedoms, for which they often pay with their own lives. The award is also a chance to reflect on the resilience of HRDs working in times of adversity, including the current pandemic. Monitoring human rights violations and government abuses, HRDs have played an invaluable role within their communities becoming the first point of contact for support and help during the COVID crisis.
This year, the winners of the Sir Henry Brooke Awards are Dina Meza, a Honduran journalist who exposes human rights, environmental and labour abuses, and Reinaldo Villalba Vargas from the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective (CCAJAR), which provides legal representation to environmental defenders and promotes agrarian, water and energy justice in Colombia. As a result of their work defending human rights, Dina and Reinaldo face harassment and intimidation on a daily basis.