Catholic bishop wins Norwegian human rights prize / News / The Foreigner

Catholic bishop wins Norwegian human rights prize. The Norwegian Rafto Foundation for Human Rights has awarded this year’s prize to Mexican Catholic bishop José Raúl Vera López for his struggle for human rights and social justice. Described by the Rafto Foundation as “one of the most courageous critics of human rights violations in today’s Mexico”, the 65-year-old is not afraid to risk his own personal safety by speaking out against corruption, abuses of power, and lack of legal conventions. Bishop Vera has been particularly active recently on behalf of migrants who are victims of kidnapping, harassment, robbery, and sexual assault whilst on their way through Mexico from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

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Catholic bishop wins Norwegian human rights prize

Published on Thursday, 23rd September, 2010 at 21:11 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

The Norwegian Rafto Foundation for Human Rights has awarded this year’s prize to Mexican Catholic bishop José Raúl Vera López for his struggle for human rights and social justice.

José Raúl Vera López, Saltillo, Mexico (2009)
José Raúl Vera López, Saltillo, Mexico (2009)
Photo: Jackie Campbell


A voice for the vulnerable

Described by the Rafto Foundation as “one of the most courageous critics of human rights violations in today’s Mexico”, the 65-year-old is not afraid to risk his own personal safety by speaking out against corruption, abuses of power, and lack of legal conventions.

Bishop Vera has been particularly active recently on behalf of migrants who are victims of kidnapping, harassment, robbery, and sexual assault whilst on their way through Mexico from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

This year, the bishop openly accused representatives of the Mexican National Migration Institute and police for belonging to a criminal network in an interview for the online news service covering US-Mexico border issues Fronte NorteSur.

He alleges kidnapped migrants are then tortured into revealing names of relatives, who then have to pay a ransom of up to USD 8,000 ransom for their release. Victims have to sell their organs if their relatives do not pay.

Origins

Thorolf Rafto (1922-1986) was born in Bergen and was professor of economic history at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration (NHH), teaching students that justice was part of the curriculum.

Rafto’s lifelong curiosity, need to partake in the world, and devotion to promoting democracy and respect for human rights meant he became an important spokesman for the former Soviet Union’s persecuted Jews and intellectuals, as well as political dissidents in other  Eastern European countries.

Not satisfied with a safe and quiet academic life, Professor Rafto had contact with many dissidents from several nations.

After holding a lecture for students excluded from the university for political reasons in Prague in 1979, Rafto was arrested, beaten, and mishandled by security police, causing injuries he suffered from for the rest of his life.

The Rafto Foundation for Human Rights was established in the same year of his death to commemorate his inspiring work.

The prize honours campaigners of human rights and democracy around the world. Previous Rafto Laureates include Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, awarded the prize in 1990, Kim Dae-jung from South-Korea in 2000, and Iranian Shirin Ebadi, prize winner in 2001.

Bishop Vera will receive his award under a ceremony at the National Venue of Theatre (Den Nationale Scene) in Bergen on 7th November at 18:00.




Published on Thursday, 23rd September, 2010 at 21:11 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: thorolf, rafto, foundation, prize, award, bishop, jos, ral, vera, lpez, human, rights, catholic, mexico, prague, oslo, aung, san, suu, kyi, kim, dae-jung, shirin, ebadi.





  
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