In the challenging human rights environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Laura Engelbrecht demonstrated perseverance, courage and creativity in shedding light on human rights abuses in previously underreported areas. Ambassador Hooks cited Ms. Engelbrecht for her work in pressing the Government for judicial reforms and her expertise on the Congolese judicial system. Her close relationship with the NGO and UN communities led her to travel to rebel-controlled territory under dangerous conditions. Ms. Engelbrecht was commended for her reporting of rape as a weapon of war. She supplied insightful analysis regarding U.S. political and financial leverage in the fight to protect human rights. Her demarche to the leader of a rebel group responsible for the Kisangani massacres and her refutation of the Rwandan government's denial of responsibility for abuses committed in the eastern Congo were exceptional.
Mr. Lambert was recognized by Ambassador Randt for his sheer energy, passion and commitment to fostering democratic change in China. A highly respected and trusted interlocutor with NGOs, religious groups, Department of State offices and bureaus, and Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, Mr. Lambert facilitated communication and dialogue between these groups and the Embassy. His policy initiatives were significant in securing the freedom of political prisoners. Mr. Lambert assisted with the establishment of America's first rule-of-law program in China. He created and is the acknowledged leader of a human rights roundtable in Beijing that includes representatives from 12 countries. He energized constituent posts to contribute effectively to the Mission's human rights agenda through his own example and outreach efforts. Mr. Lambert accomplished these tasks in the face of aggressive harassment and surveillance by police.
Choosing winners of this year's award was made difficult by the number of superior candidates, all of whom deserve the State Department's praise and gratitude.
In Laos, Greg Chapman of Embassy Vientiane was cited for his work to protect religious freedom and abuses against the Hmong minority. He demonstrated a continued American commitment to the protection of vulnerable groups.
John Cushing of Embassy Seoul achieved significant and concrete results in his attempts to combat trafficking in persons (TIP), chairing an embassy TIP task force. His work helped the Republic of Korea to significantly improve its efforts against TIP.
David Gehrenbeck of Embassy Yerevan made extraordinary contributions to the fight against corruption and the promotion of free trade in Armenia. His work demonstrates that the promotion of sound economics contributes to the creation of a climate amenable to democracy and the institutionalization of human rights.
In Southeast Asia, Tobias Glucksman of Embassy Phnom Penh worked doggedly to combat government attempts to dilute labor protections and negotiated regulations protecting union leaders.
John Godfrey of Embassy Ashgabat developed an outstanding set of foreign contacts, furthering his work regarding detainments, jailings, and mistreatment of prisoners. He also led a successful effort to prevent the deportation of a democracy activist.
Greg Hicks of Embassy Manama worked to further rights and protections for women. In Bahrain, Mr. Hicks expanded contacts among leading women to work for te protection of women's rights and labor opportunities.
Stewart Tuttle of Embassy Bogota demonstrated insight, confidence and courage in his work to expose the efforts of paramilitaries to target human rights workers. He successfully oversaw a program that brought threatened labor leaders to the U.S. for training, an action that undoubtedly saved lives.
The Assistant Secretary's Award for Exceptional Achievement in the Field of Human Rights and Democracy recognizes work by officers of foreign affairs agencies abroad. It is intended to recognize outstanding research of and reporting on human rights and democratic developments, and above all the advancement of strategies and institutions that will deepen the roots of respect for human rights and democracy.