Today, 10 December 2009, Mr. Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), was awarded the 2009 Human Rights Prize of Andalucía. The award was presented to Mr. Sourani and PCHR in recognition of their work for the promotion and protection of human rights, and for their commitment to justice, human rights, and the rule of law. The award was presented on International Human Rights Day, which this year marks the 61st anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The award was presented at a major event in the University of Seville, attended by academics, politicians, civil society, and solidarity activists; it was presented by Virtues Garcia, of the Human Rights Association of Andalucía (APDHA). During the ceremony interventions were made by Professor Isidoro Moreno, of the University of Seville and APDHA member, Maribel Mora, General Counsel of APDHA, and Juan Jose Teilez, journalist, writer and poet. Mr. Sourani gave a speech on International Law and Palestine.

This morning, Mr. Sourani met with Jose Chamizo, Ombudsman of Andalucía, and then attended a reception at the Parliament of Andalucía where he was received by Fuensanta Coves, President of the Andalucían Parliament. At both meetings Mr. Sourani spoke of the Spanish government’s recent restrictive change to Spain’s universal jurisdiction law, about the implementation of the Goldstone Report’s recommendations and the Spanish government’s negative reaction to the Report. He also highlighted the issue of Palestinian parliamentarians in Israeli detention, and how this detention has prevented the Palestinian Legislative Council for operating for the past two years. Finally, Mr. Sourani spoke of the European Union’s (EU) role in the protection and promotion of human rights, and what the human rights community expected from the upcoming Spanish Presidency of the EU.

On the receipt of this award PCHR would like to express their gratitude and honour. PCHR recognise this award to be an acknowledgement of the work of all human rights defenders in Palestine. This official recognition, and message of solidarity, serves as a motivation to all Palestinians as they continue to struggle for justice, and human rights.