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Embassy of Canada in Venezuela Human Rights Award

In 2009, the Embassy of Canada in Venezuela joined with the Universidad Central de Venezuela’s Padre Luis María Olaso Centre for Peace and Human Rights to create an award to recognize outstanding work in the promotion, dissemination and/or defense of human rights in Venezuela.

Any person or organization can submit a nomination to the jury, and candidates for the award can be individuals, non-governmental organizations or private institutions in Venezuela. Candidates should stand out for their continuous effort in promoting respect for human rights; disseminating human rights ideals; and/or defending those who are deprived of human rights.

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Competition rules

Eligible applicants

Any person or organization may submit the name of persons, NGOs or private institutions in Venezuela that stand out, through constant efforts, in promoting:

To define who can apply, this award is based on the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders established by the United Nations in 1998.

The jury

The award is granted by the Government of Canada in association with the Coalition of Chairs and University Centers for Human Rights of Venezuela. A 6-person jury will be appointed annually and will be comprised of 3 coalition-appointed members, 2 Canadian government-appointed members, and a former recipient of the award. The winner will be decided based on a unanimous decision, according to the criteria that follow.

The jury's verdict shall be binding and cannot be appealed.


To determine the final verdict, the jury shall only take into account the information contained in the nomination form. It is important that the persons, entities or institutions postulating a male or female candidate include all the data required by the form and abstain from sending excessive information as addendums or attachments.

The selection of the person or group that shall receive the Human Rights award shall be based on the exceptional endeavor of the defense and/or promotion of human rights in Venezuela.

The jury will consider:

Call for nominations

The Coalition of Chairs and University Centers for Human Rights of Venezuela and the Canadian Embassy has the honour of opening the call for the 12th Edition of the Embassy of Canada in Venezuela Human Rights Award.

Applications shall be received by Friday, November 25, 2022.

To nominate individuals, please fill out a nomination form, which can be requested by writing to: Once completed, the form must be sent to that same email address.

Previous award recipients


12th edition

The winner of the twelfth edition of the award is Marco Ruiz, journalist and activist for freedom of expression and the media. A mentor to many journalists in Venezuela, he is recognized for his dedication to defending press freedom and the freedom of expression, having co-founded numerous organizations and coalitions to protect media workers and access to information. Despite the regime's persecution, he has never stopped ensuring that cases of disappearance and detention of journalists are documented and defended.

Together with Marco Ruiz, the human rights award is also awarded to Virgilio Trujillo. Assassinated in June 2022 due to his commitment to defending his territory and the ancestral way of life of his people in the Amazon against illegal armed groups, Canada posthumously recognizes his dedication. A true leader for of indigenous rights in Venezuela, Virgilio represents the commitment of a new generation to defend the rights of indigenous peoples.


Eleventh edition

The winner of the 11th edition was Jo D’Elia, founder and director of Civils Derechos Humanos. He is recognized in Venezuela as a pillar of the community and mentor to countless activists. He has founded and directed several organizations and has been a catalyst in the creation of local and regional networks of human rights organizations, notably, during the presentation of Venezuela’s first Universal Periodic Review.

Special mention

Mariana Romero Mosqueda - As founder of the Centre for Defense and Justice, Mariana was recognized for her dedication to the defense and promotion of human rights. She is a lawyer and academic coordinator of the Andrés Bello Catholic University and works tirelessly in the defense of human rights defenders and in promoting the institutionalization of international standards on justice and democracy.


Tenth edition

The winner of the tenth edition was Katherine Martínez, Director of NGO Prepara Familia. She was nominated for her decisive and dedicated work over more than ten years, addressing the conditions, needs, and rights of children and adolescent patients and their families at JM de los Rios Hospital. Katherine Martínez explained her motivation of becoming a defender of human rights due to the situation of vulnerability in Venezuela that she had witnessed and documented through her work. She is inspired to continue because of the resilience she saw in the families and the children themselves.

In June 2022, Katherine visited Canada and had the opportunity to exchange her experience and work with representatives from the Government of Canada, different civil society organizations and with researchers at the University of Ottawa Human Rights Centre. Katherine also had the opportunity to visit social pediatric organizations in Gatineau and Montreal, including a music therapy program inspired by the Systema program in Venezuela.

Special mention

Alejandro Álvarez Iragorry – Director of Clima 21 Ambiente y Derechos Humanos, for his work of more than 20 years in defence of the environment, and more recently for his work on warning about the environmental and cultural impacts of Arco Minero.

Elvira Llovera de Pernalete – Mother of Juan Pablo Pernalete, a young Venezuelan university student murdered during the 2017 demonstrations; and who has not stopped raising her voice on behalf of other parents who have had their children imprisoned or killed during demonstrations.


Ninth edition

The winner of the ninth edition was Francisco Valencia, Director of the Coalition of Organizations for the Right to Health and Life CODEVIDA, who was nominated for his tireless work as one of the most open voices to denounce the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. In recent years, Francisco has dedicated himself to accompanying the legitimate demands of millions of people in Venezuela for the right to immediate, adequate and effective protection so that no more lives are lost due to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the country.

In June 2018, Francisco visited Canada and had the opportunity exchange his experience and work with representatives from the Government of Canada, including a meeting with the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs. He also met with different civil society organizations in Canada, which work on the right to health and humanitarian crises. Francisco had the opportunity to visit the transplant program at University Health Network in Toronto and met with the Venezuelan diaspora in Ottawa and Toronto.

Special mention

Aracelis Sanchéz - Mother of a victim of extrajudicial execution, founder and director of the Organization of Relatives of Victims of Human Rights Violations (ORFAVIDEH). Aracelis took her experience and her pain as the mother of a victim to undertake a struggle against violence and impunity, giving rise to the organization she presides over today. Through her work, Aracelis has promoted the knowledge of human rights and has helped to strengthen the social fabric by empowering other people to actively demand respect and guarantee of human rights, not only in their community, but also in other regions of Venezuela.

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