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Darfur lawyer wins European rights prize

Latest update : 2008-01-25

Sudanese lawyer Salih Mahmoud Osman has received the prestigious Sakharov Prize for his defence of human rights. Osman has provided free legal aid to victims in his country for more than two decades.

STRASBOURG, France, Oct 25 (Reuters) - The European
Parliament on Thursday awarded its annual Sakharov Prize for
Freedom of Thought to Sudanese human rights lawyer Salih Mahmoud
Osman.
 

Osman, an opposition member of the Sudanese parliament who
works for the Sudan Organisation Against Torture, has for years
defended and given free legal aid to hundreds of victims of
rights abuses in Sudan's Darfur region.
 

"The European Parliament wants to recognise the very
important work of this very courageous man, who has made his
voice heard to make sure the rule of law is being supported in
Sudan," the president of the parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering,
said in announcing the prize.
 

The award ceremony will take place in Strasbourg on Dec. 11.
 

The prize is named after leading Soviet rights activist
Andrei Sakharov. It was awarded last year to Belarus opposition
leader Alexander Milinkevich and previous recipients have
included Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
 

A European Parliament statement said Osman was the unanimous
choice of the leaders of the parliament's political groups. The
two other finalists were murdered anti-Kremlin journalist Anna
Politkovskaya and Chinese activists Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan.
 

The European Parliament hailed Osman's work with the victims
of conflict.
 

"Over two decades during Sudan's various civil wars Salih
Mahmoud Osman has risked his own life to provide legal and
medical aid to the countless victims of the conflict," it said
on its Web site. 
 

"His fight against injustice has had a personal cost;
members of his family have been killed and tortured."
 

Osman himself was imprisoned by the Sudanese government for
over seven months in 2004 without a charge or a trial.
 

In November 2005, Osman was awarded Human Rights Watch's
highest honour for his work in Sudan.
 

Experts estimate 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5
million uprooted in violence in Darfur since mostly non-Arabs
took up arms in early 2003 accusing Khartoum of neglect.
 

Khartoum puts the death toll at 9,000 and says the West
exaggerates the conflict.

Date created : 2007-10-25

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