Belarusian opposition activist Ales Mikhalevich has been granted the prestigious John Humphrey Award for promotion of democracy and human rights, Canadian Ambassador to Poland Daniel Costello told reporters on Wednesday.
Ambassador Costello stressed that together with its closest allies Canada had repeatedly condemned violations of fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms in Belarus and called for the immediate release of all political prisoners.
Present at the conference was Ales Mikhalevich, the first East European to receive the award. He will be granted the distinction in Canada next week.
The John Humphrey Award is granted annually for outstanding achievement in the promotion of democratic development or respect for human rights by the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. It consists of a CAD 30,000 grant and a speaking tour of Canadian cities to increase public awareness of the laureate’s work, the Canadian Embassy wrote on its website.
The award is named in honour of the late John Peters Humphrey, the Canadian law professor who prepared the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Mikhalevich, a lawyer, was a candidate in the 2010 Belarusian presidential election. He fled Belarus and was granted a political asylum in the Czech Republic.
Mikhalevich said the award “would honour the entire democratic movement in Belarus, and especially the imprisoned people, including former presidential candidates”.
The International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development is a Canada-based non-partisan organization created by Canada’s Parliament in 1988 to encourage and support the universal values of human rights and the promotion of democratic institutions and practices around the world.