"#DerechosRefugiados, A journey without end?"
Under this slogan, and with the firm determination of Spain’s General Council of the Bar to strengthen its active commitment to the protection of the rights of refugees, the 2016 Annual Conference of Lawyers was held in Madrid in which the Human Rights Awards were presented this year, extraordinarily, to refugees.
In the category of ‘Persons’ the award was presented to the Refugee Olympic Team’s Yonas Kinde and the Independent Paralympic Athletes’ (IPA) Team Ibrahim Al-Hussein, as an example of overcoming war and persecution through sport.
Al-Hussein competed in swimming at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games as the first refugee member of the IPA Team.
Nearly 300 attendees packed the Ateneo de Madrid, amongst which were representatives of justice and politics, such as Juan Carlos Campo Moreno, spokesman for Justice of the PSOE in the Congress of Deputies; the members of the CGPJ Rafael Mozo and Alvaro Cuesta; judges of the Supreme Court Jose Manuel Bandres and Antonio del Moral; Maria Luisa Cava de Llano, former Ombudswoman and Francisco Fernández Marugán, deputy to the Ombudsman.
The event began with a presentation of all the winners by journalist Pepa Bueno, whose words were accompanied by a video of each of the winners and the reasons why they received the prize.
Bueno said: "We are here with the protagonists of such powerful images we see in the media."
He continued: "The bigger the tragedy, the more important events like this are," before describing the awards as a "Historic event. It is a necessary ceremony so that someday we can say we were here telling the drama of Syria.”
The first to be presented were Kinde and Al-Hussein, who left Syria for Greece after losing his leg in a rocket attack.
Kinde valued the representation of refugees at Rio 2016 because it allowed him to be "a symbol for all refugees in the world." Al-Hussein said he was very grateful for the award because it means he can "spread the message of refugees further."
In the ‘Institutions’ category, the prize went to Women's Link Worldwide, whose main objective is to protect the rights of migrant and refugee women and combat trafficking.
In the category of ‘Media’, journalist Javier Bauluz was recognised for his part in some of the best global coverage of the refugee crisis in Europe.
The "Nacho de la Mata" prize was awarded this year to José Palazón, an activist on children and unaccompanied minors in Melilla and founder of the NGO PRODEIN Melilla.
A ‘Special Prize’ was awarded to former president of the General Council of Lawyers, Carlos Carnicer, for his work in defending the rights of refugees and human rights in general throughout his life.
This year the Annual Conference was held in a new format in which the award winners participated in a debate on human rights and refugees led by Bueno.
They then received their awards from leading authorities including President of the General Council of the Bar, Victoria Ortega; President of the General Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court, Carlos Lesmes, the Justice Minister Rafael Catala; the State Attorney General, Jose Manuel Maza, and Vice President of the General Council of Lawyers and dean of the Bar Association of Madrid, Sonia Gumpert.