The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders was announced today. And the winner is:
Emad Baghi, a leading Iranian human rights defender based in Tehran. He founded the Society for the Defense of Prisoners’ Rights, and has been a vigorous and outspoken opponent of the death penalty in Iran. His campaigning includes a scholarly examination of Islamic law (shari’a) on the subject, in which he demonstrates the absence of any doctrinal requirement for maintaining capital punishment. In addition, Baghi’s inventory of death row prisoners in Iran, including juvenile offenders, has been an important resource for UN human rights bodies as well as human rights groups outside the country. Baghi has spent four years in prison over the past decade for his campaigning against the death penalty and other rights activities. Currently out of jail, he still faces charges relating to his work for the defense of prisoners rights. Baghi suffers from serious heart and kidney ailments; in August 2008 prison physicians declared his condition critical.