Sri Lanka’s Hoole, Sritharan win Swiss human rights prize

Burundi cop, Sri Lanka professors win Swiss human rights prize

GENEVA, Oct 1, 2007 (AFP) – A policeman from the central African country of Burundi and two university professors from Sri Lanka have been named as the top human rights defenders for 2007 by a Swiss-based rights group.

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, a former policeman turned human rights activist in Burundi, will share the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders with Rajan Hoole and Kopalasingham Sritharan, who have set up a project to monitor rights abuses by all parties in Sri Lanka’s conflict.

The trio are “key actors for human rights and democracy in their countries, where dramatic struggles for peace have made their work extremely risky,” said Hans Thoolen, chairman of the 10-member jury which awards the prize each year.

The prizes will be presented by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, at a ceremony in Geneva on Tuesday.

The award was set up in 1993, with the jury comprised of representatives of human rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the World Organisation Against Torture and the International Commission of Jurists.

Martin Ennals (1927-1991) was a veteran human rights campaigner who served as the first secretary general of Amnesty In