WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
13 Sep 2012 | News

WOLA Announces Recipients of its 2012 Human Rights Awards

Washington, D.C.—Today, WOLA announces the recipients of its 2012 Human Rights Awards. This year, the theme of the award is Overcoming Violence: The New Human Rights Agenda. WOLA’s Human Rights Awards will highlight inspiring efforts to confront the most pervasive challenge in Latin America today: the startlingly high levels of violence. On September 19, 2012, WOLA will present its 2012 Human Rights Awards to brave individuals and organizations that are working on the frontlines—often at great risk—to prevent violence, expose corruption, and build effective police forces and systems of justice.

WOLA will honor:

  • Helen Mack—for her work to professionalize the police and judicial system in Guatemala.
  • El Faro—for investigative journalism that shines a spotlight on corruption and organized crime.
  • Passos Education and Training Center—for innovative community programs to stop crime before its starts by working with at-risk youth.

“For the majority of people across Latin America, crime and violence is a daily reality,” says Joy Olson, Executive Director of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). “Citizen security is a basic human right. Countries have an obligation to build accountable institutions that will protect all citizens from violence and crime while guaranteeing civil liberties.”
Today, areas of Latin America are unfortunately among the most dangerous regions in the world, with crime rates more than double the world average and levels of violence comparable to those found in war zones. Over the years, WOLA has been at the forefront of this issue, working with partners in the region to promote innovative and comprehensive approaches to reduce violence and crime.
“Amid this atmosphere of insecurity, many governments in Latin America have tended to respond with heavy-handed policies that favor indiscriminant mass arrests, harsh sentences, and unrestricted police powers,” said Joy Olson. “These strategies fail to stem the violence and instead lead to suppression of citizen’s rights, abuse of power, and corruption of government officials.”
The new human rights agenda calls for comprehensive, alternative strategies to tackle violence. This year, WOLA's Human Rights Awards intend to draw attention to this new human rights agenda and to highlight some of the most innovative approaches to confronting violence in Latin America.
Press Opportunities 
The honorees will be participating in a public event the morning of the awards ceremony.
The event will take place at the Room 505, Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University at 9:00 a.m. This event is open to the press. Please email[email protected] if you plan to attend. 
It will be live-streamed on WOLA’s website (www.wola.org). 
For one-on-one interviews with the honorees, please contact Kristel Muciño, WOLA’s Communications Director, at [email protected] or 202-797-2171.
The awards ceremony will be held at the French Embassy on September 19, at 7:00 p.m. It will be live-streamed on WOLA’s website (www.wola.org). 

Kristel Mucino
Director of Communications
[email protected]