Latvian PEN Awards for promoting freedom of expression handed out

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The Latvian PEN Award 2022 goes to lawyer, former Constitutional Court president Sanita Osipova and the association 'Gribu palīdzēt bēgļiem' (I want to help refugees), representatives of the Latvian PEN said May 3.

On the World Press Freedom day, May 3, the Latvian PEN awards are given to honor people and organizations who have strengthened freedom of expression through their work, fought against the threat of censorship and self-censorship, and stood for the rights of discriminated groups.

Sanita Osipova was awarded “for work in the office of the President of the Constitutional Court and for decisions that topicalized the rights of same-sex couples and the conformity of the Istanbul Convention with the Constitution, as well as for the ability to correctly and comprehensively comment on decisions in the public area, by achieving the actual commencement of legislative proceedings”.

According to Latvian PEN, "the work of Sanita Osipova has played a significant role in strengthening the rights of same-sex couples and other discriminated-against groups. The decisions taken and approved by Sanita Osipova, unfortunately, had consequences for the judge personally: the Saeima voted against the possibility of Sanita Osipova working at the Supreme Court. In awarding this prize, the Latvian PEN wishes to draw attention to the unacceptable situation in this democratic society, in which the judiciary is exposed to the influence of politicians."

The refugee support association 'Gribu palīdzēt bēgļiem' is awarded for their impressive work to help Ukrainian refugees, and for the work that has always been there before the influx of Ukrainian war refugees.

"Hate speech is directed against this organization on social networks and from officials. 'Gribu palīdzēt bēgļiem' is an organization truly worthy of the name of a human rights organization, without sorting people by race, gender or other parameters. The activities of the association have undeniably contributed to the tolerance of the Latvian society towards asylum seekers and created a positive foundation for the creation of an inclusive society," said the Latvian PEN.

This year's awards were created by Ukrainian artists Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv.

Previously, the Latvian PEN Award was won by Lolita Tomsone, Re:Baltica, Viesturs Ķerus, and Alise Zariņa.

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