Contact: Barbara Becker, EqualShot, 917-727-1094
VENEZUELAN CIVIL RIGHTS LAWYER, GONZALO HIMIOB SANTOMÉ, WINS 2019 CIVIL COURAGE PRIZE
New York, NY – Gonzalo Himiob Santomé, an acclaimed Venezuelan lawyer, activist, author and poet, will receive the 20th annual Civil Courage Prize on Monday, October 21. Himiob is a founder and vice president of the non-governmental organization Foro Penal, a nationwide civil rights network of more than 200 volunteer lawyers and over 6,000 human rights activists. Himiob and his team advocate, on a pro bono basis, for thousands of peaceful protestors who are routinely arbitrarily arrested, beaten, held incommunicado and tortured.
The Train Foundation has awarded the Civil Courage Prize since 2000. Recipients have played leading roles in resisting evil and injustice at great personal risk.
Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, will lead a conversation with Himiob at the awards ceremony. Ambassador Samantha Power, former US Ambassador to the UN and nominator of Himiob for the prize, will address the audience by video.
Gonzalo Himiob Santomé will also appear in conversation with Joanna Hausmann, Venezuelan-American comedian, writer, and actress, at the New School on Tuesday, October 22.
Under the rule of Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s democratic, economic and humanitarian institutions have been dismantled, including the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, free press, fair elections, free speech, freedom to organize, and freedom to vote. Once one of the richest countries in Latin America, many Venezuelan’s now lack access to food, medicine, and regular electricity.
Through Foro Penal, Himiob has overseen and been personally involved in providing pro-bono legal assistance to Venezuelans who are victims of arbitrary detention. Foro Penal’s documentation of abuses that arise from these detentions has become the primary source of information for news organizations, governments, foreign NGOs, and international human rights organizations.
As a leading voice in exposing government abuses, Himiob has himself received threats by powerful figures within the Venezuelan government. In one of his essays, he inquired, “Until when can such a desperate situation endure?... I do not recognize my country. I cannot believe how low we have fallen."
To attend the Civil Courage Prize or New School event as a member of the media, please contact Barbara Becker.
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