Hauwa Ibrahim, Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist, is one of three recipients of the European Parliament’s distinguished 2005 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Ibrahim has been courageously defending people (mainly women) “condemned under sharia law to horrifying punishments (lashing, stoning, and amputation),” according to the European Parliament. For her lifesaving work, she has been harassed, threatened, insulted, and charged with libeling the judiciary. But she has with determination brilliantly waged a public awareness campaign that has reached worldwide and saved the lives of women condemned to death by stoning.
Best known for her defense of Amina Lawal, who faced stoning to death as a sentence for adultery, Ibrahim has defended many condemned people. Ibrahim was also the first woman national publicity secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, and wrote the first draft (2002) of the constitution for the Pan African Lawyers Union.
The other 2005 recipients of the Sakharov Prize are Damas de Blanco, a Cuban protest group, and Reporters Without Borders, and all three will receive the prize during the December plenary session in Strasbourg. Winners are chosen by all the presidents of political parties of the European Parliament for their significant contributions to human rights. Previous winners include Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan.
Ibrahim received a 2005 Eleanor Roosevelt Award at the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Inaugural Global Women’s Rights Awards Dinner in April. She is currently a Global Fellow at Yale University.