Norwegian human rights prize given to Azerbajiani journalist
The Rafto Prize 2009 has been awarded to Azerbaijani journalist and human rights defender Malahat Nasibova from Naxçivan in Azerbaijan, for her courageous and unwavering struggle for a free and independent press.
The Committee writes: Risking her own safety, Malahat Nasibova, reports on abuse of power, human rights violations and corruption in the isolated autonomous republic Nakhchivan, which is part of Azerbaijan.
Malahat Nasibova (40) is a correspondent for the independent information bureau, ‘Turan’ in Azerbaijan and for ‘Radio Free Europe’/’Radio Liberty’.
She is the leader of the human rights organisation ‘Democracy and NGO’s Development Resource Center’ in Nakhchivan. Nasibova has been a critical voice against the authorities for ten years and she steadfastly refuses to give up the fight for freedom of speech. She reports on violations by the police against ordinary citizens, kidnapping of members of the opposition, and attacks on journalists. In the absence of other independent institutions, Nasibova has become a kind of ombudsperson whom the local population turn to, to be heard.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said: “I congratulate Malahat Nasibova on being awarded this prestigious prize for her longstanding and determined efforts to promote freedom of the press and human rights.”
Ms Nasibova’s organisation has received Norwegian project funding since 2003. Norway has a broad engagement in Azerbaijan involving both the authorities and civil society.
Mr Gahr Støre commented further: “We want to be a constructive long-term cooperation partner for Azerbaijan in meeting the challenges it is facing. I hope this prize will be an inspiration for the important work Ms Nasibova is doing for the country.”
The Rafto Foundation has since 1987 awarded, annually, the Rafto Prize for Human Rights to advocates of human rights and democracy. The prize commemorates Thorolf Rafto, professor of economic history at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen. Professor Rafto devoted his life to promoting democracy and respect for human rights, especially in Eastern Europe.