The Human Rights Defenders Award is presented every year by the European Union and Norway to recognise an outstanding contribution by a human rights defender active in Uganda. This year’s award, which is in its 9th year, is also given in memory of the late Hon. Med Kaggwa, former head of Uganda Human Rights Commission, to honour his important contribution to human rights and to recognise his championing of the work of human rights defenders.
“Being an activist is not easy but being a refugee human rights activist in an area of rights that sometimes is not even recognised or acknowledged is indeed the sharp end of activism”, said Mr. Per Lindgärde, the Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda speaking at today’s award ceremony in Kampala.
Aimé Moninga was chosen as this year’s award winner from among 50 nominations received from members of the public in Uganda. Moninga was nominated for his work to advocate on behalf of male survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and his leadership of Men of Hope, a survivors’ association. He has put this difficult and sensitive issue on the policy agenda in an unprecedented way, both on a national and international level, and he is developing a generation of survivors who are prepared to testify in public to their experiences.
Only a few years ago, the problems faced by male victims of sexual violence were barely discussed, even in human rights circles. Being a refugee and a violence survivor himself, Aimé Moninga has managed to mobilise many other survivors to speak. His advocacy efforts have also yielded results. For example, the Ugandan Police Force training curricula now includes references to both female and male victims of sexual abuse and violence. He is also advocating for further legislative changes.
Responding to the announcement, Aimé Moninga said, “This prize is for me and all the survivors of sexual violence, a consideration and a recognition of our struggle against impunity.” Mr. Moninga added that, despite the progress made and the recognition through this award, “the struggle remains long and difficult” due to legal and cultural barriers in place in many countries. Mr Attilio Pacifici, Ambassador of the European Union to Uganda also spoke at this morning’s award ceremony. “Human rights are not advanced by themselves, it takes the courage and dedication of women and men, organisations and institutions to advance this agenda and ensure that rights become a lived reality for everyone in society”, said Ambassador Pacifici. “This is a constant struggle and one that has become even more important in recent years as we have seen too many rights threatened in too many parts of the world."
Aimé Moninga is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo living in Uganda and heads Men of Hope, a group of male survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. Refugee Law Project (RLP), an NGO working with refugees in Uganda, reports that Men of Hope is the first association to be led by male survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.
Aimé Moninga was chosen as the 2020 winner following a thorough review and shortlisting process involving a panel of representatives of the EU Delegation, EU Member States present in Uganda, and Norway.
Also shortlisted for the 2020 award were Ms. Victo Nalule of Tunaweza Initiative and Mr. Damon Wamara of Dwelling Places. The award ceremony took place in the Residence of the Ambassador of Sweden and was attended by the three shortlisted finalists, the Ambassadors of the EU and Sweden and the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of Norway.
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