(October 7, 2015 | Washington, D.C.) – Ms. Natalia Taubina, a leading human rights defender from Russia, has been selected as the honoree for the 2015 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, now in its 32nd year. The award recognizes her courageous work seeking justice for the most serious human rights violations in Russia and initiates a partnership to support her efforts to promote and safeguard human rights.
"Natalia’s work represents the kind of leadership and courage needed to confront police brutality from Moscow to the streets of Ferguson and Staten Island. It is an honor to recognize Natalia and her organization. I know my father would be proud of her work" said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. "This award is not just a recognition, it is an opportunity to work hand in hand with human rights defenders to protect the rights and freedoms of the Russian people."
Natalia is the Director of the Public Verdict Foundation in Russia and is being recognized for her work to hold law enforcement agents accountable for human rights violations and support victims of torture in Russia. The Public Verdict Foundation litigates on behalf of citizens wrongfully arrested, beaten, tortured, and illegally detained by police. Natalia is also a powerful advocate for police reform.
In 2014, the Russian government categorized the foundation as a “foreign agent” under a new law intended to publicly invalidate, shame, and render inoperable organizations with international ties. Natalia's organization has resolutely fought this label in court and is committed to protecting human rights despite the government’s attempt to shut down civil society groups.
Natalia was selected from a group of 86 nominees over a months-long process by a prestigious panel of judges: Dean Claudio Grossman, Professor of Law and Dean of American University Washington College of Law; Ms. Maria Otero, former Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights; and Dr. William Schulz, President and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
“We are very proud to receive this award. It is very symbolic for us. Respect for civil rights and human dignity were important values for Robert F. Kennedy; these values guide our work as well,” said Natalia Taubina. “This recognition of our work is especially important today when civil society in Russia is under unprecedented pressure. The climate in which we now operate is hostile like never before. But victims of abuse in Russia need us, and we are not going to abandon them.”
Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy will present Natalia with the 2015 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in Washington, D.C., in a ceremony on November 19th. She joins 46 RFK Human Rights Award Laureates from 28 countries as the recipient of the 32nd annual prize, initiating a multi-year partnership with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.
About the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award
The RFK Human Rights Award was established in 1984 to recognize individuals who stand up to oppression at grave personal risk in the nonviolent pursuit of human rights. The Human Rights Award Laureates have made significant contributions to their countries through years of dedicated work. Laureates are chosen through an exhaustive annual nomination and selection process with nominations submitted from all over the world.
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights offers a small monetary prize to the recipient of the Award. While it is not a grant-making organization, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights forges strategic partnerships with the new Laureate. Recent RFK Human Rights Award Laureates include Adilur Rahman Khan (Bangladesh, 2014), Ragia Omran (Egypt, 2013), Librada Paz (United States, 2012), Frank Mugisha (Uganda, 2011), and Abel Barrera Hernández (Mexico, 2010).