Western Sahara: René Cassin Human Rights Award presented to Saharawi human rights defender Ms Aminatou Haidar

On 30 November 2011, prominent human rights defender Ms Aminatou Haidar was presented with the René Cassin Human Rights Award for 2011 by the Department of Justice of the Basque Regional Government. 
Aminatou Haidar is the Chairperson of the Collectif des Défenseurs Sahraouis des Droits de l’Homme – CODESA (Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders).
Her human rights work focuses on advocating for the independence of Western Sahara. She was previously the subject of a Front Line urgent appeal in November 2009. 
Aminatou Haidar’s important human rights work has been recognised by numerous institutions, and she has been awarded or nominated for several human rights awards in the past, including being awarded the 2008 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. 
Idoia Mendia, the Basque Minister of Justice, said that Aminatou Haidar “represents the struggle of the Saharawi people,” a struggle which he said is especially difficult due to the Moroccan authorities’ tendency to “limit the freedom of expression, assembly and association”. 
The award is endowed with the sum of EUR 16,550, which the human rights defender has said she will use to help the families of Saharawi political prisoners.