The Heads of Missions of the EU Member States, the EU Delegation and Norway have announced Pamela Judith Angwech as winner of the EU Human Rights Defenders Award 2017.
The annual European Union Human Rights Defenders Award (EU HRD), now in its sixth year, is granted by the EU and its member states in Uganda, and Norway, to recognise the achievements of Human Rights Defenders in Uganda.
Angwech is Founder and Executive Director of the Gulu Women’s Economic Development & Globalization (GWED-G), the region’s largest grassroots human rights organization, focused on women and youth, since in 2004. GWED-G has programs in a number of domains, including health, human rights, peace building, economic empowerment and livelihoods, psycho-social support and counseling, and research and advocacy.
Angwech was recognised for her leadership role to promote the rights of war-affected women and girls who are suffering as a result of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war in Northern Uganda. She is at the forefront of advancing women’s and girl’s rights and gender equality in the district of Gulu, Nwoya and Amuru through empowering grassroots groups.
Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) are individuals who, individually or with others, act to promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms. These include civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. The work of HRDs has a positive impact on a country’s development and is essential for encouraging the respect for human rights as recognised by international human rights standards and agreements. HRDs need to be protected from interference and reprisals while executing their work. The HRDs rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly need to be safeguarded to enable them to defend others.
Past winners of the EU HRD Award include Gerald Kankya (2012) of Twerwaneho Listeners Club, Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala (2013) former Coordinator of Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ), the three joint winners (2014) Gladys Canogura of Kitgum Women Peace Initiative, Assistant Commissioner of Police Christine Alalo, Head of the Uganda Police Family and Child Protection Unit, and Mr Mohammed Ndifuna, Director of the Human Rights Network Uganda, Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana (2015), Founder & Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) and Robert Sempala (2016) of the Human Rights Network of Journalists (HRNJ).
This year’s winner, Angwech, was hailed for leading an organisation that supports over 400 women’s groups to ensure women and girls have equal rights to resources and livelihoods and are given a political voice and her extensive experience with community-based human rights policy and post-conflict development.
The committee noted her strong and sharp voice on zero tolerance to sexual and gender based violence following up on cases within the judiciary system. She has been working on this evil over the past few years and has cumulatively responded to 670 GBV cases- most of them with positive results for the victims.
She was hailed for her visibility and audacity to speak on behalf of the voiceless in various human rights platforms at local and national level, including the International Conference for Great Lakes Region, the UN1325SCR Coalition platform, the regional GBV and District Working Groups on Gender and VAWG, UWONET, CEWIGO and HURINET.
The 2017 edition of the award ceremony was hosted last week under the auspices of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Uganda.
“It was the start of a long journey of more than 10 years, without knowing where it would bring you,” remarked Henk Jan Bakker, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Uganda at the event.
“It seems to me that you knew very well that the road you took is not important, but the traces you leave behind. And you’ve left many, many traces behind, showing the way forward. Your voice is loud and clear, not only in Northern Uganda but also in various human rights platforms in Uganda and abroad. We, your European allies, are listening to you and we remain committed as your diplomatic Human Rights Defenders advocates”.
Four other human rights defenders were recognised as finalists
- Rose Mary Jane Nangobi: Founder and Director of Slum Women’s Initiative for Development in Jinja, an initiative saving women from being evicted from land on which they dwelled.
- Adrian Jjuko: Ugandan lawyer and Executive Director of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF). Adrian is a leading figure in the legal struggle against discrimination in Uganda.
- Crispin Kaheru: A human rights defender and coordinator of CEDDU, Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda.
- Gard Benda Ntegyereize: Executive Director of World Voices Uganda (WVU), a locally founded NGO that strives to respond to human rights violations. Gard spearheaded campaigns against land grabbing in the Albertine region despite threats against his life from land grabbers and speculators.