International Human Rights Award
Salih Mahmoud Osman: 2006 IHR Award Winner
Salih Mahmoud Osman has for over two decades provided free legal representation to victims arbitrarily detained, tortured, and subjected to serious human rights abuses in his native country of Sudan. Mr. Osman is an attorney working with the Sudan Organisation Against Torture (SOAT) to provide legal assistance, medical aid, and psychological counseling to victims of Sudan's civil war.
As violence in the Darfur region has worsened over the past few years, Mr. Osman has worked to provide a record of the alleged war crimes in that region. He visits those who are detained and initiates legal action against human rights perpetrators. His interviews with witnesses and records of crime have been turned over the to the International Criminal Court to assist the Court's prosecution.
He also litigates on behalf of those charged by the Sudanese government, and has been successful with SOAT in overturning or reducing judgments of death or amputation. Mr. Osman is also engaged in an effort to have rape prosecuted as a war crime.
Mr. Osman is currently actively involved in the protection of the over 2 million Sudanese who were displaced from their homes. In addition to achieving the return to these displaced people to their homes and their rehabilitation, Mr. Osman works to secure the accountability of those responsible.
Mr. Osman's fight against injustice in Sudan has had personal cost. Members of his own family have been killed, tortured, or burned out of their homes by the militias. Mr. Osman himself was imprisoned by the Sudanese government for over seven months in 2004 without a charge or a trial. After the intervention of the international community and Mr. Osman's own hunger strike, he was released. At great risk to himself and his family, Mr. Osman continues his invaluable defense of basic civil, political, and human rights.
On November 8, 2005, Mr. Osman was awarded Human Rights Watch's highest honor for his work in Sudan. In announcing Mr. Osman's selection, Georgette Gagnon, the Deputy Director for the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, described Mr. Osman as an "essential resource" for those Darfurians facing persecution and a "thorn in the side of those who use violence to cling to power."
Mr. Osman currently serves as a Member of the Sudan National Parliament. In that new role, he is focused on promoting the rule of law through the implementation of the provisions of the interim constitution.