Bangladesh, China, Mexico
, Latin America & Caribbean

Human rights organisations honour leading defenders from Bangladesh, China and Mexico

Three prominent human rights defenders from China, Bangladesh and Mexico have been honoured for their courageous work in the face of great personal risk with the announcement of the Final Nominees for the prestigious Martin Ennals Award 2014.

(Geneva) – Three prominent human rights defenders from China, Bangladesh and Mexico have been honoured for their courageous work in the face of great personal risk, with the announcement of the Final Nominees for the Martin Ennals Award 2014.

One of the nominees, Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli, died in hospital a few days after the Martin Ennals Jury chose her as a finalist. In violation of international law, she was detained, denied access to adequate medical treatment, and ultimately died in connection with her efforts to hold China to account for its human rights obligations at the UN Human Rights Council.

‘It is a grim, tragic irony that it was only in her death that Cao Shunli’s voice was ultimately heard at and through the United Nations Human Rights Council’ said Phil Lynch, Director of ISHR and one of the jury members responsible for the selection of nominees.

‘Sadly, Cao Shunli’s case is not isolated, but a paradigmatic example of the intimidation, harassment and reprisals that human rights defenders frequently face for their work to expose violations and ensure accountability,’ Mr Lynch said. 

The Martin Ennals Award is conferred annually by ten of the world’s leading human rights organisations, including the International Service for Human Rights, to highlight the work of human rights defenders and provide protective publicity to defenders at risk.

‘The Martin Ennals Award recognises the courageous work of human rights defenders and, through publicity, seeks to promote and provide protection for their vital work,’ said Mr Lynch.

In 2014, the Final Nominees for the Award are:

  • Cao Shunli (video) – a Chinese human rights activist who died in detention as a reprisal for her human rights work,
  • Alejandra Ancheita (video) – a human rights defender from Mexico undertaking pioneering work to hold corporations to account for the human rights impact of their operations, and
  • Adilur Rahman Khan (video) – a leading human rights activist from Bangladesh facing police harassment, detention and death threats in connection with his efforts to document and ensure accountability for attacks against peaceful protesters. 

‘Around the world – from China, to Bangladesh, to Mexico – human rights defenders face threats, attacks and reprisals for their work. The work of these defenders is crucial to foster democracy, promote accountability and uphold the rule of law. It is for this very reason that anti-democratic, corrupt and repressive governments so frequently target and attack their work,’ said Mr Lynch.

‘ISHR calls on all governments to recognise, respect and protect human rights defenders and to provide a supportive and enabling environment for their important work,’ Mr Lynch said.

Further information about the Martin Ennals Awards, including biographical information and videos about the Final Nominees, is available at or

The Final Award will be announced at a ceremony in Geneva on 7 October 2014.

The Martin Ennals Award Jury comprises representatives from the following leading international human rights organisations:

  • Amnesty International
  • EWDE Germany
  • Front Line Defenders
  • Human Rights First
  • Human Rights Watch
  • International Commission of Jurists
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • International Service for Human Rights
  • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Contact: Phil Lynch, Director of the International Service for Human Rights, on [email protected] or + 41 76 708 4738 

Stay in the loop!

Would you like to be informed of future events, news, updates on our work, invitations and appeals? Please enter your email address below!