WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
8 Oct 2015 | News

WOLA Announces Recipients of its 2015 Human Rights Awards

Washington, D.C.—The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) is proud to announce the recipients of its prestigious Human Rights Awards for 2015. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the awards, which are given to organizations or individuals who exemplify a commitment to WOLA's vision for the future, where human rights and social justice are the foundation for public policy. This year WOLA is honoring:

  • Tim Rieser, Foreign Policy Aide to Senator Patrick Leahy and Democratic Clerk of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
  • Justicia y Paz, the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace in Colombia.

Tim Rieser is being recognized for his commitment to human rights during his 30 years working in Congress. He was instrumental in last year’s historic opening of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Over the years, he has made outstanding contributions to human rights in the hemisphere—including drafting the Leahy Law, which prohibits U.S. aid to units of foreign security forces that violate human rights; human rights conditions on military and counter-narcotics aid for Colombia, Mexico and Central America; securing funding for the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG); and defending the rights of indigenous people.  

Describing Tim Rieser, WOLA’s Executive Director Joy Olson said, “When Tim Rieser sets his sights on an injustice, he is unstoppable. Anyone who worked to get U.S. foreign assistance to defend and protect human rights in the last two decades knows and admires Tim.  If you want to see what accountability looks like, just look at Tim Rieser. He’s an inspiring reminder that leadership is not about the limelight – it’s about getting things done.”

Justicia y Paz is a leading Colombian human rights organization that has played a key role in working for peace and supporting victims of the violence and displacement caused by the country’s 50-year-old armed conflict. As peace negotiations between the Colombian government and rebels move forward in Havana, Justicia y Paz works to ensure that Colombia’s most marginalized populations (Afro-Colombians, indigenous groups, and rural farmers) are being represented in the talks. WOLA honors Justicia y Paz for its unwavering commitment to justice in the face of intimidation and violence.

According to WOLA Executive Director Joy Olson, Justicia y Paz embodies a profound sense of courage. Despite the threats that its members face on a daily basis, they work tirelessly in the most difficult areas of Colombia. It is in these communities that peace will either succeed or fail, so the work of Justicia y Pazis vital to ensure lasting peace.”

For over 40 years, WOLA has been a leading research and advocacy organization advancing human rights in the Americas.

The honorary committee for this year’s gala includes Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Ben Cardin, Sen. Chris Coons, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Sen. Jon Tester, Rep. David Bonior, Rep. Kathy Castor, Rep. David Cicilline, Rep. John Conyers Jr., Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Eliot L. Engel, Rep. Tom Emmer, Rep. Sam Farr, Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, Rep. Mike Honda, Rep. Hank Johnson, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Sander Levin, Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Nita M. Lowey, Rep. James P. McGovern (former honoree), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Rep. Mark Pocan, Rep. David Price, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Louise Slaughter, and Rep. Mark Takano.

Past award honorees include former Guatemalan Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, Sen. Tom Harkin, Rep. George Miller, Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, Executive Director of the Myrna Mack Foundation Helen Mack, and the Salvadoran online newspaper El Faro.
The awards ceremony will be held on October 28 at 7:00 p.m.


Kristel Mucino
Communications Director, WOLA
+1 (202) 797-2171
[email protected]