Washington, D.C.—On November 12, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) presented its prestigious Human Rights Awards by honoring two distinguished leaders who have shown a dedication to advancing human rights in the Americas:
- Dr. Claudia Paz y Paz, Guatemala’s first female Attorney General, who made significant strides in the prosecution of organized crime and corruption during her nearly three-and-a-half years in office. Dr. Paz y Paz brought to justice prominent human rights abusers from Guatemala’s civil war period, most notably leading the team that assembled the case against former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. A crusader for justice, the rule of law, and human rights, Dr. Paz y Paz was a 2013 nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. WOLA honors her with its Human Rights Award for her unfailing pursuit of justice and accountability. To hear Dr. Paz y Paz's acceptance speech, please click here.
- Congressman George Miller (D-CA),a leading advocate in Congress on education, labor, and human rights around the world. Since he was first elected to Congress four decades ago, his courage and strategic vision have been at the forefront of the work for human rights in the Americas. From the days when he was a leader in efforts to end U.S. military aid to repressive regimes in the 1970s and 1980s to his vocal support for labor rights in Colombia today, he has been steadfast in his commitment to human rights and social justice. To hear Congressman George Miller's acceptance speech, please click here.
WOLA is a leading advocacy organization in Washington working to advance human rights and social justice in the Americas. This year WOLA celebrates its 40th anniversary.
The awards ceremony took place on Wednesday, November 12th in Washington, D.C. at 7:00 pm.
Describing this year’s recipients, WOLA’s Executive Director Joy Olson said, “Dr. Paz y Paz is one brave woman. She has been both tenacious and smart in how she has pursued her responsibilities as Attorney General. She took on cases that would have previously been defined as against all odds.”
“Congressman Miller is no fair-weather friend. His career shows us what commitment to human rights means. Most recently, through his efforts to monitor and promote implementation of the U.S.-Colombia Labor Action Plan, he has shown us that rights transcend borders.”
Reflecting on this important recognition, Congressman George Miller said: “WOLA is the gold standard in the fight for working people in Latin America and the Caribbean, and I am beyond humbled to receive their 2014 Human Rights Award. WOLA was founded the same year I was elected to Congress, and for four decades, I have relied on them—as have many administrations and members of Congress—to educate, agitate, and give voice to the voiceless in our shared battle for human rights and social justice throughout the region.”
Dr. Paz y Paz expresses in her award acceptance speech:“Through the hard work of police, forensic teams, prosecutors, and judges, and by quickly solving very complex and violent cases we demonstrated that it was possible to make the justice system work; that there could be efficient criminal investigations without human rights violations. That to bring to justice the major drug lords, gang leaders, those who commit crimes against women, it was not necessary to break the law. Absolute respect for due process is an indispensable foundation for justice to work. And even more we proved that the law should function for all, regardless of who the victim or the perpetrator was. If the crime was committed by the State against its own citizens, then all the more reason for that crime to be punished.”
Past award honorees include Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of Mexico, Sen. Tom Harkin, Rep. Jim McGovern, and the Salvadoran online newspaper El Faro.
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