De Lima elated, humbled over ‘Prize for Freedom’ award

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Senator Leila M. de Lima today expressed elation over the prestigious “Prize for Freedom” Award conferred by Liberal International (LI) in recognition for her outstanding efforts in defense of freedom and human rights.

De Lima, a known human rights defender, said she is greatly humbled and grateful for LI for this latest recognition of her unrelenting fight for human rights, justice and the rule of law amid the political persecution she is subjected to under the present administration.

“I am humbled and honored to be chosen as the recipient of this prestigious Human Rights Prize, which was also bestowed to former president and democracy icon Corazon Aquino,” she said in a statement.

“More than a recognition, I regard this award as an inspiration that strengthens my resolve to continue opposing this murderous regime, its outright disregard for human rights and trampling of human dignity to my last breath, especially because I am not alone in my fight,” she added.

During its 199th Executive Committee meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa this week, the LI has announced it is conferring the Prize for Freedom – the global federations’ highest human rights honor — to Senator de Lima.

More than 100 liberals from 32 countries participated in LI’s 199th Executive Committee meeting. (See https://liberal-international.org/news-articles/philippines-political-prisoner-de-lima-receive-lis-top-human-rights-award/)

In an official statement, Markus Löning, Chairman of LI’s Human Rights Committee who visited and met with the Senator last July, cited De Lima as perfect embodiment of a leader who fights for what is right despite political oppression.

“Leila De Lima has been a flag-bearer for human rights in the Philippines and beyond, setting a shining example for other human rights defenders. Even from inside the prison she keeps fighting for the rule of law and the dignity of individuals. She should immediately be released from pre-trial detention,” Löning said.

According to LI, De Lima will be the second Filipino to accept the Human Rights Prize, after then President Corazon Aquino in 1987, who was recognized “for her world-renowned advocacy of democracy, peace, and the empowerment of women.”

LI noted the award is given to “a well-known personality of liberal conviction who has made outstanding efforts for the defence of freedom and human rights.” Other recipients of the prestigious award include the imprisoned Saudi liberal blogger Raif Badawi (2016), Helen Suzman (2002), Martin Lee (1996) and was first awarded in 1986.

The third international organization that sent representatives to visit De Lima in detention, LI has previously denounced the arrest of De Lima as politically motivated.

A network of over a hundred liberal and democratic parties in the world, LI also urged the Duterte administration to immediately release De Lima from continued unjust detention and allow her to fulfill her mandate as a sitting Senator of the Republic.

Prior to this award, De Lima was also recognized by Foreign Policy magazine as one of 100 leading Global Thinkers for 2016, by Time Magazine as one of 100 Most Influential People, one of the Icons, for 2017, and by Amnesty International as one of the notable Women Human Rights Defenders in 2017.

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