the 2018 Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law awarded to Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri

On 19th December 2018, the Foreign Minister of German and France together awarded the 2018 Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law to Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri, the Thai lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) in recognition of her commitment for human rights and the rule of law.

The German and the France Ambassadors presented the award to Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri in a ceremony at the German Ambassador’s residence, Bangkok, Thailand

After the conferral, Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri had gave the speech in appreciation of the Foreign Ministry of German and France, Ambassadors of German and France to Thailand, colleagues, family and her friends who granted and involved with this award.

“I feel honored and humbled to accept this Award, an Award which recognizes the universality of human rights and the importance of the Rule of Law as guarantees for rights and liberties of people.

“The Award is a significant encouragement not just for me, but for us, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, and human rights defenders who have faced difficulties and struggle in the fight for these essentials for everyone:  human rights, justice, democracy and the rule of law, which have been deprived and destroyed tremendously since the military coup in 2014.

“In the past four years, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has defended fundamental rights of those arrested, detained and prosecuted by the military government. We have found what we call the Collapsed Rule of Law in the Thai Society which has been wrecked by the NCPO regime. We also realize that to succeed restoring democracy and human rights protection, we must reconstruct and consolidate the Rule of Law. And of course, we know well that it is not an easy mission, and we cannot succeed alone.

“Therefore, this Award reaffirms the attention of international community and diplomatic missions on our human rights defense and consolidating the rule of law.

“Particularly, we do hope that this support will persist and continue alongside our struggle towards restoration of democracy in the run-up to and after the election in 2019, if not postponed. Because the military government has set out to establish its own version of political order and to do so through legislation that will continue to have consequences for Thai society long after the junta itself has withdrawn from office.

“This upcoming election under the influence of the NCPO is not an end result to return to democratic governance, the guarantees of rights, and the consolidation of the rule of law in Thailand. Rather, our work is a process, a daily struggle, a life-time commitment, and a fight for the next decades and future generation.

“As we celebrate 70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we all have fought to move forward for the better, and we shall not slip back but keep in mind that we are not just defending today but creating the better tomorrow. Once again, our work is far from over. Be hopeful and support each other in this endless fight.”

In May 2014, Ms.Sirikan Charoensiri and colleagues set up the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), a coalition of human rights lawyers and defenders providing, i.a. free legal counsel and litigation representation to vulnerable people in need. Among the beneficiaries are 14 student activists of the New Democracy Movement (NDM), a case for which Ms.Sirikan Chareonsiri is facing criminal proceedings. 

The Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law is awarded annually, since 2016, by the Foreign Minister of Germany and France to outstanding personalities in this filed around the world.

The winners in 2018 are: Mr. Yu Wensheng (China), Ms. Aminata Traoré (Côte d’Ivoire), Mr. Mohamed Lotfy (Egypt), Mr. Alfredo Okenve (Equatorial Guinea), Mr. Nityanand Jayaraman (India), Ms. Chak Sopheap (Cambodia), Ms. Hessen Sayah Corban (Lebanon), Ms. Mekfoula Mint Brahim (Mauritania), Mr. Daoud Nassar (Palestinian territories), Ms. Liz Chicaje Churay (Peru), Mr. Oyub Titiev (Russia), Ms. Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola (South Africa), Mr. Anwar al Bunni (Syria), Ms. Susana Raffalli Arismendi (Venezuela), and Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri (Thailand).