Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award celebrates the valor of individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others. Human Rights Watch collaborates with these courageous activists to create a world in which people live free of violence, discrimination, and oppression.
Salah Marghani is a human rights activist and lawyer in Tripoli who has worked to reveal the truth about human rights atrocities in Libya's past and to document abuses happening today. As the former head and a current member of the Libyan Human Rights Violations Detection Group, a non-governmental organization, Marghani is a leading voice for rights and justice.
During last year's conflict, when a popular uprising led to an armed revolt against Muammar Gaddafi, Marghani assembled a group of lawyers to document violations and to get victims and witnesses to safety.
Since the conflict, Marghani, together with devoted young human rights activists, has continued their work, documenting abuses by pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces. His group is visiting prisons, interviewing victims, and issuing reports that aim to end abuses.
When files from Gaddafi's secret police were at risk of being looted or destroyed, Marghani helped to get them secured. When Libya's ruling National Transitional Council passed a law undermining free speech by banning insults against the people of Libya or its institutions, Marghani successfully challenged the law before Libya's Supreme Court.
While living under Gaddafi, Marghani was an active member of the Tripoli Bar and was refused permission to form a human rights group. He represented political prisoners, including Jamal al-Hajji, a writer and political commentator who, inspired by the protests in Tunisia and Egypt, was one of the few Libyans to call for protests seeking greater freedoms. Marghani has worked for many years as a founding partner at MTL Law Offices.
Human Rights Watch has worked with Marghani since 2005, when he gave us confidential information at personal risk. He acted as a key interlocutor during last year's war, putting us in touch with victims and activists who had escaped Gaddafi's forces. Since Gaddafi's fall, Marghani has continued to serve as a tireless monitor and principled critic of Libya's human rights record.
Human Rights Watch honors Salah Marghani for his commitment to revealing the truth and pressing for freedoms in Libya both in the past and today.