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Turkish lawyer Murat Arslan wins Václav Havel Human Rights Prize

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Strasbourg, France, Oct 9 (CTK) – The Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize was given to Turkish judge Murat Arslan on the first day of the meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg on Monday.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek and representatives of the Vaclav Havel Library, who award the annual prize together with PACE and the Charter 77 Foundation, took part in the ceremony. Arslan, however, was absent from it because he is in prison in his homeland. He was arrested last year because of his alleged ties to preacher Fethullah Gulen whom the Turkish authorities accuse of organising the failed coup in 2016.

Arslan, 43, is a judge who has been defending the rights for freedom, security and a fair trial and the independence of the judiciary, rule of law and balance of power. He has been a strong critic of the Turkish Justice Ministry.

Apart from Arslan, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee or Austrian Jesuit Georg Sporschill were nominated for the prize this year. Last year, the prize went to Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman who fled the Islamic State militant group in northern Iraq and attracted international attention to the plight of the Yazidi community, mainly the sexual enslavement and the trafficking in women and children.

Being the current chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Zaoralek delivered a speech after the ceremony about the challenges the CE is facing.

He said cooperation in fighting terrorism cannot be limited to countries but international organisations such as CE must also cooperate as much as possible.

Zaoralek said it is necessary to follow the political developments in countries swayed by crisis, such as Turkey, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

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