Human Rights Watch (HRW) has awarded a Russian and a Saudi activist for their "courageous and tireless" work in advocating human rights.
The New York-based rights group announced January 30 that Ivan Pavlov and Hala Al-Dosari were the recipients of this year’s Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, saying they were "leading voices for justice" in Russia and Saudi Arabia.
HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said in a statement that the annual award celebrates the valor of people who "work tirelessly and courageously to stand up for justice, often in the face of danger and at great personal sacrifice."
The statement described Al-Dosari as a prominent human rights activist, scholar, and blogger "known for speaking out against the country’s deeply entrenched discrimination against women and girls."
It said Pavlov is a lawyer and activist who has dedicated his career to defending people "wrongly accused by security services of disclosing state secrets, high treason, and espionage."
"Pavlov has persevered against overwhelming odds, threats of violence, and government surveillance," it added.
In a statement on Facebook, Pavlov said on January 31 that the award was a "great honor" for Team 29, the informal group of lawyers he leads -- and without whose other members he said "nothing would have been achieved.”
Pavlov's clients included Inga Tutisan, a Russian woman convicted of treason in 2014 for sending text messages to Georgian acquaintances about the movement of Russian Navy ships in the Black Sea after the brief 2008 Russian-Georgian war. Russia's Supreme Court reduced her six-year prison sentence by almost two years in November.