Polish Prize of Sérgio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Awarded to individuals and non-governmental organizations for their efforts to promote peaceful coexistence and cooperation among societies, religions and cultures.
Winners of the 12th edition of the Award:
Pietro Bartolo (1956) – Italian physician; since 1993 he has headed a specialized medical care center on the southernmost Italian island of Lampedusa, which has become a target for illegal immigration. The center, which he directs, is responsible for saving lives and providing health care to migrants from Africa and the Middle East arriving on the island via the Mediterranean Sea. Bartolo heads a team of doctors and rescuers present on the island, i.e. the public health service, the Red Cross medical staff, Doctors Without Borders, and volunteers involved in rescue operations at sea and on the island. Since 1993, Pietro Bartolo has provided medical assistance and comprehensive support to more than 250,000 migrants. He has witnessed the suffering of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children at a time of rising migrant tide related to the humanitarian crisis in Africa and the Middle East.
“La Strada” – the Foundation against Human Trafficking and Slavery – has formally existed since 1996, but actually began its activities in 1995, implementing the “Prevention Program for the Trafficking of Women from Central and Eastern Europe.” The statutory objectives of the Foundation are to promote respect for human rights, to combat human trafficking, slavery and forced labor, and to prevent the exploitation of prostitution, as well as crimes against individual freedom and health. As part of its activities, the “La Strada” Foundation makes the public aware of the existence of the problem of human trafficking, informs the public about the dangers of going abroad to work, trains civil servants, teachers and educators, as well as police and border guards, and above all provides assistance and support to victims of human trafficking and forced labor, and runs a specialized shelter for women victims of human trafficking. Since 2009, the Foundation has operated the National Intervention and Consultation Center for Victims of Human Trafficking. It is also a member of the La Strada International Network, which operates in eight European countries.
Sergey Kovalyov (1930) – Russian human rights activist, former dissident, biophysicist, prisoner of a penal colony. Member of the independent Initiative Group for the Defense of Human Rights, co-founder of the Memorial Association and the Moscow branch of Amnesty International. In post-Soviet Russia, parliamentarian, member of the Verkhovna Rada of the RFSR, chairman of the parliamentary Human Rights Committee, chairman of the Human Rights Commission under the President of the Russian Federation and Human Rights Ombudsman, member of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Critic of the authoritarian tendencies of the Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin administrations. He publicly protested against the war in Chechnya. In April 2014, in an open letter, he appealed to the international community to halt Russian expansion in Ukraine. Three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought awarded by the European Parliament. Recipient of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.