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New Human Rights Prize Honors Vaclav Havel

Czech Republic -- Former Czech President Vaclav Havel speaks as he attends the first editorial meeting of RFE/RL at new RFE/RL building in Hagibor, Prague 10, 27Mar2009
The Vaclav Havel Library, the Charter 77 Foundation, and the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) are launching a new human rights award in honor of former Czech President Vaclav Havel.

At a ceremony on March 25 in Prague, representatives of the library, the Charter 77 movement Havel helped found during communist times, and PACE signed documents establishing the award, which honors Havel's many years as a recognized defender of rights worldwide.

Individuals, non-governmental organizations and institutions working to defend human rights can be nominated for the annual award worth €60 000.

Havel was the last president of Czechoslovakia and became the first president of the Czech Republic in 1993.

The former dissident -- who spent time in prison during the communist era -- also wrote many plays and nonfiction works.

Amnesty International named Vaclav Havel its inaugural ambassador of conscience in 2003.

He died in 2011 at the age of 75.

RFE/RL, in cooperation with the Czech Foreign Ministry, launched the Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellowship program in 2012 in recognition of Havel's dedication to the power of free speech in fighting tyranny.

The Fellowship enables RFE/RL to bring young journalists from its broadcast region to Prague for mentoring and professional development in support of independent media.