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Honor for Human Rights Watch’s Global Monitoring

Major German Honor for Human Rights Watch’s Global Monitoring

40th Annual Theodor-Heuss Prize Celebrates Rights Work

The prestigious Theodor-Heuss Foundation announced today that it will award its highest honor to Human Rights Watch in April 2005. The foundation recognized Human Rights Watch for “the even-handedness and credibility” of its global reporting.

“We are honored to receive this prize from an institution whose dedication to freedom is widely celebrated,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “We share with the Theodor-Heuss Foundation the belief that democracy is vital to the struggle for human rights.”

Previous recipients of the Theodor-Heuss Prize include Vaclav Havel, Gunter Grass, and leading German statesmen. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Theodor-Heuss prize. The awards ceremony will take place April 29 in Stuttgart, Germany. Two other recipients will share the award with Human Rights Watch. Horst Koehler, the current president of Germany, and Richard von Weizsaecker, a former president, will speak at the event. Many former recipients of the Theodor-Heuss Prize will also attend.

In explaining its decision, the Foundation said: “[T]he hallmark of Human Rights Watch is the even-handedness and credibility of its reporting…. Highly respected, Human Rights Watch is at times dreaded by governments and international organizations for the accuracy, impartiality and timeliness of its reports. The concern, size and perseverance of this organization ask for stronger appreciation and support in Germany.”

The Foundation was established in 1965 by Hildegard Hamm-Bruecher and friends of Germany’s first president, Theodor Heuss. The Foundation’s mission is to support democracy as a way of life according to the philosophy of Theodor Heuss.

“We are proud to be furthering Dr. Hamm-Bruecher’s life’s work in support of democracy,” said Roth. “And we find inspiration in the democratic leadership of Theodor Heuss.”

The two other recipients are Prof. Dr. Meinhard Miegel, a trenchant analyst of social and economic data and an advocate of civil society, and Prof. Dr. Klaus Toepfer, who heads the United National Environmental Program in Nairobi.

In spring 2005, Human Rights Watch plans to open its first office in Germany, an advocacy office in Berlin.

“The timing of this prize could not be better,” said Roth. “Germany has an enormously important role to play in promoting human rights around the world. We will continue to push for Germany to realize that potential.”

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