The Norwegian Rafto Prize 2010 has been awarded to José Raúl Vera López (65), catholic bishop of Saltillo, Mexico, for his struggle for human rights and social justice.
In its comments, the Rafto Foundation says that Bishop José Raúl Vera López is characterized as one of the most courageous critics of human rights violations in today’s Mexico.
Endangering his own security, he speaks out loudly and without fear against human rights violations, corruption, power abuses and the absence of the rule of law.
While sharing the government’s concern for the power and violence of the drug cartels, Raúl Vera criticizes the methods used by the police and armed forces in their fight against crime, as well as the failure to address the underlying social causes.
By awarding the Rafto Prize 2010 to José Raúl Vera López, the Rafto Foundation wants to draw attention to the dramatic and worsening human rights’ conditions in Mexico, where the government’s attempt to contain the spiralling of violent crime has lead to a militarization of society that has further deteriorated the human rights conditions. At the same time, we want to raise awareness of his efforts to improve this situation.
The Prize honours an uncompromising champion of the rights of the most vulnerable groups in Mexico, the Foundation states.
The Rafto Foundation has since 1987 awarded, annually, the Rafto Prize for Human Rights to advocates of human rights and democracy. The prize commemorates Thorolf Rafto professor of economic history at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen. Professor Rafto devoted his life to promoting democracy and respect for human rights, especially in Eastern Europe.