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Trócaire nominated to share $1m human rights prize

Trócaire has been nominated for a prestigious new human rights award in recognition of the organisation’s work to eradicate bonded labour, a form of modern slavery, in Pakistan.

abbas ali and his wife Basheeran Bibi

Abbas Ali and his wife Basheeran Bibi. Abbas became enslaved by debt for a loan worth just €256. Photo: Conor O’Loughlin

The agency has been named as a potential recipient of funding made available by the Aurora Prize, a high profile award co-chaired by actor George Clooney and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel.

Four individuals have been nominated for the inaugural Aurora Prize, with the $1m award being donated to an organisation nominated by the eventual winner.

Trócaire has been nominated by Syeda Ghulam Fatima, a Pakistani human rights activist who has worked tirelessly to end bonded labour in her country. 

Selection Committee co-chair George Clooney will announce the inaugural Aurora Prize Laureate during a ceremony in Yerevan, Armenia on April 24, 2016. 

Trócaire Executive Director Éamonn Meehan said:

“Syeda Ghulam Fatima is committed to ending slavery in Pakistan. She is a woman of deep integrity and compassion, whose extraordinary conviction has driven her to work for over 40 years to end slavery in Pakistan’s brick factories. Trócaire has supported Fatima to establish Freedom Centres where workers receive healthcare, education, awareness on rights, physical protection and legal services. Her efforts to date have freed more than 80,000 people. Trócaire is honoured to be nominated as part of this award. The funds would greatly assist us in continuing our work to end slavery in Pakistan.” 

Trócaire’s Pakistan Country Director John O’Brien said:

“Trócaire has been fighting for the rights of bonded labourers in Pakistan since 2007. We are committed to working with others to abolish this form of modern day slavery. Fatima has made an enormous contribution to the advancement of rights in Pakistan and we are honoured that she selected Trócaire as a potential beneficiary of this award.”

The four finalists for the inaugural Aurora Prize are:

Marguerite Barankitse of Maison Shalom and REMA Hospital in Burundi: Marguerite Barankitse saved thousands of lives and cared for orphans and refugees during the years of civil war in Burundi. To date, she has saved an estimated 30,000 children and in 2008, she opened a hospital which has treated more than 80,000 patients thus far. 

Dr. Tom Catena of Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. Dr. Tom Catena is an American physician and the sole doctor of the Mother of Mercy Hospital in rebel-held territory in the Nuba Mountains, Sudan. Despite several bombings by the Sudanese government, Dr. Catena resides on the hospital grounds so that he may be on call at all times.

Syeda Ghulam Fatima, the General Secretary of the Bonded Labor Liberation Front in Pakistan. Syeda Ghulam Fatima has worked tirelessly to eradicate bonded labour, one of the last remaining forms of modern slavery, liberating thousands of Pakistani workers.

Father Bernard Kinvi, a Catholic priest in Bossemptele in the Central African Republic. Father Bernard Kinvi has provided refuge and health services to those on both sides of the civil war in the Central African Republic through his mission in Bossemptele. He has saved hundreds of people from persecution and death. 

The four finalists were each asked to shortlist up to three organizations that they would nominate for a share of the $1m award if they are named Aurora Prize Laureate. If Syeda Ghulam Fatima is named Aurora Prize Laureate Trócaire will share the $1m prize with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and the Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF).

The winner will be chosen by a selection committee which includes George Clooney, Mary Robinson and four Nobel Laureates, including Elie Wiesel.

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