Raif Badawi Award 2020 goes to yemeni human rights lawyer Abdul-Rahman Al-Zbib
On 14 October 2020, the Yemeni columnist and human rights lawyer, Abdul-Rahman Al-Zbib, will receive the Raif Badawi Award, which the Friedrich Naumann Foundation together with the German Publishers & Booksellers Association presents annually to outstanding, courageous journalists.
The war in Yemen now only receives international attention as a side-note. Freedom of the press has suffered massively in the conflict, which has been going on for more than six years, especially as one or the other of the two war parties or their supporters taints most of the information. Al-Zbib upholds the independence of journalism and sees himself as a voice of the people who stand up for human rights. In his columns, he therefore "takes up social issues and, as a lawyer, initiates legal changes," the jury's statement says. "Despite poverty and war, Yemen has an amazingly vital civil society. Abdul-Rahman Al-Zbib plays a very important role as a link between the media and non-governmental organisations," the jury explains. The 39-year-old Al-Zbib, who has already worked as a lawyer and prosecutor, today defends prisoners. "People are not dehumanised by war," he describes his motivation to face the daily challenges in Yemen.
Because of the Corona pandemic, the prize cannot be awarded this year at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The ceremony will take place virtually on 14 October at 17:00, with the laudatory speech given by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial and Arbitrary Executions, Agnes Callamard. Callamard has investigated the assassination of Jamal Kashoggi on behalf of the United Nations and has clearly identified the links with the Saudi royal family - the regime that has held Raif Badawi in custody since 2013 and will chair the G-20 round from November. ARD Tagesschau-Speaker, Constantin Schreiber, and editor of Raif Badawi's texts in German, will moderate a discussion between Al-Zbib and Callamard.
Short portrait: Who is Abdul-Rahman Al-Zbib?
Abdul-Rahman Al-Zbib, winner of the Raif badawi Award 2020, is a writer and lawyer, writes columns for Yemeni newspapers and appears regularly on radio broadcasts. His commitment to freedom of expression and human rights is something that cannot be taken for granted in a war-torn country where journalists are constantly exposed to threats and dangers.