Iranian human rights activist Emad Baghi is the winner of this year’s prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.
Baghi founded the Society for the Defense of Prisoners' Rights and has been a “vigorous and outspoken” opponent of Iran’s death penalty.
His efforts include a scholarly examination of Islamic Shari’a law, in which he demonstrated the absence of any doctrinal requirement for maintaining capital punishment.
Baghi also conducted a census of death-row prisoners in Iran, including juvenile offenders, a database that has proven to be an important resource for human rights bodies worldwide.
The chairman of the jury of the Martin Ennals Award, Hans Thoolen, describes Baghi as "an exceptionally brave man defending human rights despite imprisonment and poor health."
Baghi has spent four years in prison over the past decade for his campaigning against the death penalty and other rights activities. Though free, he currently faces charges relating to his work for the defense of prisoners rights.
Baghi suffers from serious heart and kidney ailments.
The Martin Ennals Award, created in 1993, represents a collaboration of 10 of the world’s leading human rights organizations. Martin Ennals was a noted British rights activist and served as the third secretary-general of Amnesty International.
The awards ceremony will take place in Geneva in November.