By our reporter
Ugandan human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo will today evening be awarded the German Africa Prize 2017 at a ceremony in Berlin for his tireless work in defending civil rights in Uganda.
The German Africa Foundation gives the prize to honor outstanding individuals for their long-standing endeavors to foster democracy, peace, and human rights.
Opiyo who couldn’t hide his excitement posted on his social media, “I will today receive the German Africa Prize 2017 from the German Federal President Frank Walter Steinmeier here in Berlin. There will be a special performance by Geoffrey Oryema. I thank the staff/Board of @chapter4uganda our partners, supporters & friends. I owe lots to you all,”
He is a leading human rights lawyer and founder of the human rights organization “Chapter Four Uganda.” Since 2005, he has worked tirelessly to promote civil liberties in Uganda, often on pro bono.
Since 1993, the German Africa Foundation has awarded the German Africa Prize to honor “outstanding individuals for their long-standing endeavors to foster democracy, peace, human rights, art, culture, the social market economy and social concerns.”
Opiyo, 37, grew up on the outskirts of Gulu, Nothern Uganda. The region was a center of fighting between Museveni’s government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group that is notorious for using child soldiers and terror under the leadership of Joseph Kony. Opiyo had to walk long distances in order to avoid abduction by the LRA.
His sister was kidnapped and spent several years with the rebels before escaping. Many young Ugandans, especially in the north, were abducted to serve as soldiers, laborers or sex slaves to the rebel group. According to a US-based rights group, Human Rights Watch, Opiyo channeled his difficult childhood experience into a passion for defending human rights for all.
He is a known lawyer, who fearlessly, handles the most sensitive topics that many of his colleagues are afraid of. Under the organization “Chapter Four Uganda”, he developed into an outspoken leader of the civil society in his country. “It has been a difficult journey in a country which you have a leader in power for the last 30 years and has no intention of leaving,” Opiyo noted.
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