The U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 Human Rights Awards. The Diplomacy for Human Rights Award goes to Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard of U.S. Embassy Bamako. Richmond Blake from Embassy La Paz was selected as the winner of the Human Rights and Democracy Achievement Award. Dr. Abdul Rasheed in Afghanistan is the recipient of the Human Rights Defender Award.
The Diplomacy for Human Rights Award recognizes a U.S. Chief of Mission who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to defending human rights and advancing democratic principles in his or her host country. Ambassador Leonard advanced U.S. interests in human rights during a time of sustained crisis in Mali. She skillfully guided the American community and U.S. policy through an extremely challenging African political, security, and humanitarian crisis in 2013.
The Human Rights and Democracy Achievement Award honors a U.S. Department of State employee who has implemented creative strategies to support human rights and democracy. This year’s winner, Richmond Blake, overcame Bolivian government hostility and intimidation tactics to advance key U.S. human rights priorities. He spearheaded the development of a 21-episode radio soap opera to raise awareness about human trafficking and through a series of creative low-cost initiatives he modeled how embassies can promote the rights of members of marginalized populations.
The Human Rights Defender Award is given to individuals or non-governmental organizations that have shown exceptional valor and leadership in advocating for the protection of human rights and democracy. In Afghanistan, Dr. Abdul Rasheed has dedicated the last seven years to advocating for legal protections, rights, and access to health care. He founded the Youth Health and Development Organization in 2009, recognizing that access to justice and health services is a basic human right.
For additional information, please contact Chanan Weissman at WeissmanC@State.gov or (202) 647-4043.