The Franco German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law will be awarded for the second time since its inception. It is granted to persons who show significant engagement in the protection and the promotion of human rights and the rule of law.
The French and the German Embassies in Colombo announced earlier this year that Ms. Shreen Abdul Saroor, a human rights defender specialising on women’s rights and empowerment and engaged in reconciliation work between displaced Muslim and Tamil communities was selected.
The remarks made by Minister Samaraweera at the award ceremony is shown below :
It is an honour for me to be here this evening, when Ms. Shreen Abdul Saroor, who I met for the first time as a member of the task force, is awarded the Franco German Human Rights Award for 2017.
I would like to congratulate Ms. Saroor for her award. Shreen, you are an example not only to Sri Lankan women but to women and men all over the world. You have faced tremendous hardship yourself. Yet, you had the courage to use your personal adversity to reach out and help the most vulnerable in our society. Your courage and sincerity continue to help those who are most in need in our society.
As a Sri Lankan, this is a proud moment for me as well to see your work recognised. You have touched the lives of so many, and what you have done, and continue to do, stands not only as a contribution to the citizens of Sri Lanka, but to all of humanity.
Although the conflict is over, it will take years to heal the wounds, and it will take persistent effort to sustain and secure the gains that we have already made. The Government has the will and determination to face these challenges including gender-based violence, and promoting and protecting human rights for all, while working towards achieving equitable and inclusive economic development. Yet, Government alone cannot achieve all this.
This is why I hope that the work that Shreen has done, and continues to do, will inspire more young people and more men and women to be engaged, and stand up for the rights of all. I wish you the strength to keep doing the great work that you are doing, and to keep on fighting the good fight.
I take this opportunity to thank the Governments of France and Germany for their joint initiative to recognise the work of human rights activists. As I understand, 15 persons have been chosen globally this year as winners of this prestigious Franco German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law.
Being the leading Members in the European Union, Germany and France have become vanguard of universal human values. Your active interest encourages all of us to strengthen our efforts in preserving those common universal values at this time of populism and integration.