Ethiopian lawyer Daniel Bekele is being honored for his commitment to defending human rights. The current head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission grew up in the midst of a brutal military dictatorship and has vowed to speak out and fight back against injustice.
With a long experience of political violence as a child, his commitment to human rights began early: at the age of only 23, he started working as a lawyer in Addis Ababa, represented NGOs, and quickly became a much sought-after expert on democracy and human rights. He promoted human rights and civil society in Ethiopia including women’s rights by working closely with the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association and several CSOs.
Daniel’s determination to advocate for the political rights of disadvantaged populations, in particular, has not been diminished by his imprisonment. Between 2011 and 2019, he held senior leadership positions at Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to promote human rights on the African continent and was responsible for hundreds of publications on a wide range of human rights and good governance issues in Africa.