Human Rights Award: JRS shortlisted

The Jesuit Refugee Service in Malta has been named as one of three finalists shortlisted for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2014. Meeting yesterday (26 August) in Prague, the panel that selects the prize winner also named B'Tselem, which works in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, defending the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians, and Azerbaijani human rights activist Anar Mammadli.

The Václav Havel Award for Human Rights is an international award established in 2013 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in memory of Václav Havel, the former President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. The jury consists of the President of the Parliamentary Assembly and six independent personalities with expertise in human rights issues. Individuals, non-governmental organisations and institutions working to defend human rights can be nominated.

JRS Malta specialises in the field of legal assistance and social work services. These include providing healthcare and psychological support for refugees and asylum seekers, as well as raising awareness about issues in schools and offering spiritual support.

RECOGNITION

While its aim is to assist with immediate needs, JRS Malta also encourages self-sufficiency. Its team includes lawyers, social workers, a nurse, Jesuit priests and religious, cultural mediators, outreach workers and administrative staff, as well as a number of regular volunteers. Much of its work is focused on detention centres, where staff and volunteers identify the protection needs of individual detainees. It provides them with information about asylum and immigration procedures, assesses their social, psychosocial and medical needs and helps secure the release of children, pregnant women and vulnerable persons.

Commenting on the news, the Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in the UK, Louise Zanré said: “The prize recognises outstanding action by civil society in the defence of human rights. For JRS Malta to have even been nominated is in itself recognition of the work that JRS does in accompanying, serving and defending the rights of refugees. It is an even more significant achievement to be shortlisted and named as one of three finalists for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2014.”

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe awards the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize  each year in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation. It consists of a prize of €60 000, a trophy and a diploma.The winner will be announced on 29 September in the opening session of PACE. 

Photo: Václav Havel/IRFS