Following a vote by Foreign Affairs and Development Committees MEPs, the finalists for this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought are:
· Aura Lolita Chavez Ixcaquic, a human rights defender from Guatemala. She is a member from the Council of Ki’che’ Peoples (CPK), an organisation that fights to protect natural resources and human rights from the expansion of mining, logging, hydroelectric and agro-industry sectors in the territory and has been subject to threats.
· Democratic Opposition in Venezuela: National Assembly speaker (Julio Borges) and all political prisoners as listed by Foro Penal Venezolano represented by Leopoldo López, Antonio Ledezma, Daniel Ceballos, Yon Goicoechea, Lorent Saleh, Alfredo Ramos and Andrea González. The situation in Venezuela has been seriously deteriorating as regards democracy, human rights and socio-economy, in a climate of growing political and social instability. Political prisoners in Venezuela as well as the democratic opposition in Venezuela were also shortlisted for the Sakharov Prize in 2015.
· Dawit Isaak, a Swedish-Eritrean playwright, journalist and writer, who was arrested in 2001 by the Eritrean authorities during a political crackdown. He has been imprisoned without a trial since and was last seen in 2005. Isaak was also a Sakharov finalist in 2009.
Asia Bibi, Selahattin Demirtaş, Figen Yűksekdağ and Pierre Claver Mbonimpa were also nominated for the Sakharov Prize.
On 26 October the Conference of Presidents (leaders of political groups and the EP President) will select the 2017 Sakharov Prize laureate among the finalists. The prize, consisting of a certificate and 50 000 euros, will be awarded in a ceremony in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 13 December 2017.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named in honour of the Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov, is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. Last year the prize was awarded to Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar.