Civil Courage Prize
for steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk

2019 Civil Courage Prize Honoree

Gonzalo Himiob Santomé
Director Vice President, Foro Penal

Gonzalo Himiob Santomé is a Venezuelan lawyer, human rights defender writer, poet, and columnist. Since 2005, he has worked as a founding member and Director Vice President of Foro Penal. This NGO provides pro bono legal assistance for victims of human rights violations; sends information about Crimes Against Humanity in Venezuela to the to the ICC Prosecutor´s Office; and maintains a full database of people (more than 15,000 persons) arbitrarily arrested for political reasons in Venezuela, from 2014 to date. Foro Penal has continuously reported and assisted victims of hundreds of cases of torture and assassination for political reasons in Venezuela. Foro Penal’s detailed records of political prisoners in Venezuela have been repeatedly validated and used as effective and creditable reference among institutions including the OAS, the European Parliament, and the UN´s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Gonzalo Himiob Santomé has been personally involved in the legal pro bono defense of hundreds of cases of political persecution in Venezuela. 

Gonzalo Himiob Santomé is a founding partner of the private legal office Himiob, Romero & Associates, and has coordinated the Criminal Law and Criminological Department of this legal office, from 1993 to date. He was also the coordinator of the NGO Constitutional Forum of Venezuela (1999-2000) and was also one of the founding members of the NGO VIVE (Venezuelan Victims of Human Rights Violations) in 2002. In 2004, this NGO was the first Venezuelan NGO to formally submit information to the ICC Prosecutor´s Office revealing that Crimes Against Humanity were being committed in Venezuela.

Gonzalo Himiob Santomé graduated from the Universidad Católica "Andrés Bello" (UCAB) in 1992 and holds two specialist degrees in Criminal Law and Criminology (Universidad Central de Venezuela, 2011, and Universidad Católica “Andrés Bello”, 1996).  He served as a Professor (Criminal Law, Criminology and Victimology) of undergraduate and graduate students from the Universidad Católica "Andrés Bello" (from 1996 to 2016) and from the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV, from 2000 to date).

He has also been a Sunday columnist of the daily newspaper La Voz (from 2009 to 2016) and has contributed to The New York Times in Spanish since July 2017.  In addition, he currently publishes articles in Venezuelan digital media such as and Among his numerous published works, including several political essays and legal studies, are his essay "The Government of Intolerance" (El Nacional, January 2010) and, in the literary field, his three books of poems: "The Other Moons and the World" (February 2007), "The Lion, the Rhino and the Ostrich Chronicles" (November 2007) and his collection of personal poems called "Nocturnarios" (BID & Co publishers, November 2013). He has also published two novels Absence Leaves the Night (Grupo Intenso, January 2010, Venezuela) and Feel the Thirst (Ficción Breve Libros, Venezuela, November 2010).

Gonzalo Himiob Santomé has received the following honors and awards: Recognition of the Circle of Scientific Journalism of Venezuela and the National Union of Workers of the Press (July, 1999), as well as the Medal of the Illustrious Bar Association of Caracas (June, 2009). He has been recognized for his work in human rights by several public and private organizations, including the Rotary International (“Public Servant of the Year” 2009). He received the “Bicentennial Order of the Illustrious Bar Association of Caracas” (June 2014) and the "Exemplary Citizen" award in its First and Only Class, from the Metropolitan Mayor of Caracas (July, 2014). He was also awarded the IABA/FIA Lexis-Nexis Prize for his “Defense of the Rule of Law in Latin America” (June, 2018).



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2019 Honoree
   press release
   Acceptance speech by Santomé



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