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Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2023

Osman KAVALA is a Turkish businessman, human rights defender, philanthropist and political prisoner. He has been a supporter of human rights organisations and a pillar of Turkish civil society since the early 1990s. He was arrested in October 2017, charged with attempting to subvert the government and constitutional order in connection with anti-government protests and held for an extended period without conviction or due process. He was acquitted of the charges in 2020. However, he never left custody and was arrested again, this time for allegedly attempting a coup. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the detention of Osman Kavala is a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and has called for his immediate release. Although a Turkish court acquitted him of all charges, he remains in prison for the sixth year. On 25 April 2022 he was sentenced to life imprisonment in a high security facility, the harshest sentence in Turkish law since the abolition of the death penalty.

Three Candidates Shortlisted for the 2023 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize  

  • Osman KAVALA – Businessman, human rights defender, philanthropist and political prisoner convicted to an aggrevated life sentence (Turkey)
  • Justyna WYDRZYŃSKA – Lawyer, doula and activist fighting for women's rights (Poland)
  • Yevhen ZACHAROV – Human rights defender and the founder of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

International Conference in Honour of the Laureate of the Prize