Human rights defender Chak Sopheap has been chosen by Germany and France to receive this year’s Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law.
Ms Sopheap is the executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights and is among one of 15 human rights defenders from around the world to have their work recognised.
Ms Sopheap has championed the issue of human rights in the Kingdom by defending courageous human rights activists and tirelessly advocating for political and civic rights, said a joint statement issued by the embassies of France and Germany.
Eva Nguyen Binh, French ambassador to Cambodia, said that defending political and civic spaces is important.
“That is why we wish to express our gratitude to Chak Sopheap for standing up for human rights and defending the rule of law,” Ms Nguyen Binh said.
Ingo Karsten, German ambassador to Cambodia, said that respect for human rights is enshrined in the Paris Peace Accords.
“Courageous individuals like Chak Sopheap continuously remind us of the value of human rights, guided by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Mr Karsten said.
The joint statement noted that Ms Sopheap has embodied a new generation of Cambodian leaders who firmly believe in equality and social justice.
Ms Sopheap yesterday said she was honoured and grateful to have been chosen to receive the award.
“I believe that this prize serves as recognition to the work of all human rights defenders and activists in Cambodia,” she said. “They put their personal safety at risk to help and empower those most vulnerable to abuse. They also defend the rights of everyone, attempt to hold those in power accountable and achieve more transparency.”
Ms Sopheap said everyone should be allowed to speak and act freely, while those who dedicate their lives to help others should be protected and their work celebrated.
“I see this prize as a reminder to all activists in Cambodia that despite the hurdles, the challenges and the steps back, we should maintain our efforts toward a more just, transparent and sustainable Cambodia,” she added.
Ms Sopheap noted that the Cambodian government should put human rights first, recognise the work of human rights defenders and take steps to end all forms of harassment against them.