News & Events

European Human Rights Award event focuses on putting an end to modern day slavery

3 July 2008 · Category: Human Rights

Brussels — With an estimated 1.2 million children trafficked every year, the need to put an end to modern slavery was the emphasis of a ceremony held in Brussels to honor four "Human Rights Heroes" in Brussels last week. The event was co-organized by Youth for Human Rights International and the European Foundation for Human Rights and Tolerance with the support of United Sikhs International, the Church of Scientology International European Human Rights Office and the Help the Needy Foundation of Bulgaria.

(Photo) Mr. Samson Mande receiving the Human Rights Hero Award from Ms. Mary Shuttleworth for his fight against slavery

Youth for Human Rights International President, Ms. Mary Shuttleworth, presents a Human Rights Hero Award to Mr. Samson Mande for his work to prevent children from being sold into slavery as soldiers in Africa.

Noted Members of European Parliament, Maria Badia of Spain, and Claude Moraes of the UK spoke of the vital role human rights education plays in creating a climate were real reform is possible and thanked Youth for Human Rights International for their effective work in this area.

"Trafficking in youth is the worst form of slavery," said Mary Shuttleworth, Founder and President of Youth for Human Rights International. "Children are sold or abducted, transported far from home, often to foreign countries, and are used for cheap labor, sexual exploitation and as child soldiers."

Ms. Shuttleworth cited a recent UNICEF report that estimates 1,000 to 1,500 babies and children from the Central American country of Guatemala alone are trafficked each year for adoption by couples in North America and Europe.

As part of their campaign to make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights broadly known so as to eradicate slavery and other human rights violations, this year Youth for Human Rights International instituted an annual Human Rights Hero Awards program. The Brussels event was held to honor this year's European award winners.

Awardee Samson Mande is a former colonel of the Army in Uganda, Africa. When he refused to carry out repressive orders he was sentenced to prison and was physically and mentally tortured. Escaping from prison, Mande fled to Sweden where he is spearheading activities to bring an end to the use of child soldiers.

Concha Pinos, film director and film festival organizer, was awarded for her work in promoting human rights. She has touched thousands of lives through her dedication, compassion and her activities as a peacemaker and as a human rights educator.

A special recognition award was presented to Dr. Maria Karg on behalf of the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery for its outstanding contribution to raising awareness on slavery and educating youth about basic human rights.

Two youth were also awarded, Angelo Kreuzburger, 17, from Austria, and Don Shaul, 12, from Israel for their work in promoting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The purpose of Youth for Human Rights International is "To teach youth around the globe about Human Rights, thus helping them to become valuable advocates for the promotion of tolerance and peace." For more information on Youth for Human Rights visit their web site at www.youthforhumanrights.org.