The Dutch Government has awarded Ugandan lawyer Nicholas Opiyo the Human Rights Tulip 2021 for his work in defending the East African country’s homosexuals.
An LGBTI rights defender, Opiyo of the suspended Chapter Four Uganda received the Human Rights Tulip 2021, which comes with €100,000 (about Shs400m), from the Netherlands foreign minister Ben Knapen.
Opiyo beat two other nominees: Nunca Más, a collective of human rights defenders who protested against injustice and persecution in their home country, Nicaragua; and Russian lawyer Mari Davtyan, who for many years has been working to secure the safety of thousands of women in Russia in her campaign to make domestic violence there a criminal offence again rather than a misdemeanor.
“The Human Rights Tulip is a prize awarded annually by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to human rights defenders or human rights organisations to support them in the important work they do,” said the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The winner receives €100,000 and a bronze sculpture of a tulip. They can use the international visibility they gain from this recognition and the prize money to help them continue and expand the scope of their human rights work.”
The ministry further said that Opiyo’s Chapter Four Uganda was “an NGO dedicated to the protection of civil liberties and promotion of human rights for all,” further praising the lawyer for playing “an important role in criminalising torture in Uganda and has also successfully campaigned against a Ugandan anti-gay law.”
“Thanks to Nicholas that law was not enacted. His work has made the LGBTI community in Uganda feel stronger, in the knowledge that they have allies who support them,” said minister Knapen.
The foreign affairs ministry further claimed that Opiyo was persecuted for his work in defending homosexuals and politicians.
“Even when Nicholas was in prison [in December 2020] his work continued,” added Knapen. “He gave other prisoners legal advice, and so managed to secure the release of 68 people and make them stronger so that they could also make a difference.”