2 July 2013

Egyptian Human Rights Attorney Ragia Omran Selected for 30th Annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award

press release

Washington, D.c — Ms. Ragia Omran, a leading Egyptian human rights lawyer and women's rights activist, has been selected as the honoree for the 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, now in its 30th year.

The award recognizes her extraordinary work, and initiates a partnership to support her efforts to advance the women's rights, the rule of law, and democracy in Egypt through human rights legal advocacy.

“With dedication and courage, Ms. Omran is often the first to arrive on the scene at jails, police stations, court houses, and military and civilian prosecution offices. Hundreds of peaceful activists have her to thank for successfully securing their release and protecting their rights to freedom of speech and association,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of the RFK Center. “She is a beacon of hope for the woman of Egypt and a champion in the global human rights movement. We are proud to honor her with our 30th annual award.”

Ms. Omran has been at the forefront of the human rights movement in Egypt for twenty years. In 1994, she founded and led a women's rights campaign that successfully outlawed the practice of female genital mutilation in public hospitals. At the height of the Arab Spring, when many wondered how the energy of the uprising could be harnessed to promote lasting political freedoms, she founded the Almasry Alhurr Movement for government accountability and public participation.

She has personally represented hundreds of civilians ordered to military trial as part of the Front to Defend Egypt Protesters and she is a leading member of Egypt's cutting edge legal advocacy organizations, including: the New Woman Foundation, advancing reproductive rights and the political participation of women; the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, representing victims of torture, arbitrary arrest, and detention; and the No to Military Trials for Civilians Campaign, fighting to end the military trials of Egyptian civilians.

Ms. Omran was selected from a group of more than 100 nominees over a months-long process by a prestigious panel of judges: Dean Claudio Grossman, Professor of Law and Dean of American University, Washington College of Law; Dr. Gay McDougall, Mulligan Distinguished Visiting Professor in International Law at Fordham Law School; and Dr. William Schulz, President and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

“A symbol for a progressive new generation of Egyptians, Ms. Omran has brought together youth, women's rights activists, and human rights leaders who are working toward strengthening Egypt's democracy,” said Santiago Canton, Director of RFK Partners for Human Rights. “Her partnership with the RFK Center comes at a critical time when Egyptians are increasingly frustrated over the unrealized aspirations of the 2011 revolution — human rights, equality, freedom, security, employment and an adequate standard of living.”

In nationwide protests this weekend marking President Mohamed Morsi's first year in office, a crowd of opposition activists numbering in the millions demanded his resignation, which has prompted Egypt's army to give an ultimatum of 48 hours to resolve the crisis. As of Monday, 16 people had died in clashes so far and multiple incidents of sexual assault were reported in Tahrir Square. The work of human rights activists remains critical during this time of political unrest. Ms.

Omran has been and continues to work on the frontlines of issues that are crucial to Egyptians, from defending the right to assembly to confronting sexual assault.

Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy will present Ms. Omran with the 2013 Robert F.

Kennedy Human Rights Award in Washington, D.C., in a ceremony in November. She joins 44 RFK Human Rights Award Laureates from 26 countries as the recipient of the 30th annual prize, initiating a multi-year partnership with the RFK Center.

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