Ugandan lawyer receives global human rights award

Mr Nicholas Opiyo

Kampala. Ugandan lawyer Nicholas Opiyo’s star continues to rise with the prestigious Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism now a part of his profile.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), a global organisation renowned for exposing human rights abuses, will recognise Mr Opiyo at the Voices for Justice Annual Dinner, which honours individuals who defend human rights around the world.

The honour
HRW executive director Kenneth Roth, in a statement, said the lawyer will be honoured at a series of events to be held on November 15 and November 17 in the United States in recognition of “unfaltering dedication to upholding the human rights of all Ugandans by challenging discriminatory laws and speaking out for universal human rights principles.”

“In his practice, he has a diverse clientele, including anti-corruption and pro-democracy activists, the former LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo, and social media activists charged with offending the President,” the HRW statement read in part.
“He has successfully argued several high-level constitutional challenges, including the fight against the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2013, which was declared null and void in August 2014,” it added.
In an interview, Mr Opiyo said: “Many of us who wake up daily to defend civil liberties do so out of pure conviction. An award is the last thing on our mind at the start. In fact, one does not even evaluate the risk for if they did, they would not embark on the journey.”

“This is because often times, the work is not particularly very popular or materially rewarding,” he said.
Mr Opiyo said the award is, “a little reminder that however unpopular the cause, many people, maybe miles away, appreciate and support it in ways I never imagined.”
Mr Opiyo is the founder of Chapter Four Uganda, a human rights non-government organisation. He is also the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda board chairperson, a leading civil society umbrella championing the fight against graft in Uganda.