Jordanian rights activist and lawyer Hala al-Ahed wins prestigious award
Jordanian human rights activist and lawyer Hala al-Ahed has won the 2023 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk on Friday for her activism.
Al-Ahed was given the award at a ceremony in Dublin, Ireland, along with three other human rights defenders from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Ukraine and the Philippines.
The award is designed to provide an international platform for human rights activists to advocate for the issues they are defending, as well as provide them with protections for their work.
“By shining an international spotlight on their struggles and empowering them to continue their work, we at Front Line Defenders hope this award will touch the lives of many more people on whose behalf they act,” Olive Moore, interim director of Front Line Defenders, said in a statement.
Al-Ahed is a member of the National Forum for the Defense of Rights (NFDR) in Jordan and has personally defended fellow civil rights activists who have been subject to arrest and harassment in Jordan.
“I am pleased to be receiving this award by Front Line Defenders as it recognises the work of human rights defenders in Jordan. I hope that it will play a role in giving Jordan’s human rights situation much needed attention,” al-Ahed said in her acceptance speech.
Rights groups have noted a steady erosion in civil rights in Jordan over the last three years and increased repression by authorities, particularly towards human rights activists.
“The situation in Jordan ... is beyond the absence of respecting rights and freedoms. It lies in the shrinking of civic spaces, with the criminalisation of the tools of human rights work and any form of dissent,” al-Ahed said.
In September 2022, Human Rights Watch said that Jordanian authorities “detain, interrogate, and harass journalists, political activists, and members of political parties and independent trade unions … to quash political dissent.”
Al-Ahed herself has come under threat for her activism and has been summoned by the Jordanian intelligence services.
She has also had her phone hacked with the Israeli Pegasus surveillance software.
A Frontline Defenders investigation in April 2022 alleged that it was “highly likely” that it was agencies of the Jordanian government who targeted al-Ahed and other Jordanian human rights defenders with Pegasus. The Jordanian government has denied using the software.
Al-Ahed dedicated her award to the Jordanian Women’s Union, the NFDR, and the Jordanian Teachers’ Syndicate which the Jordanian government shut down in summer 2020.