Graciela Pérez Rodriguez to receive 2017 Human Rights Tulip

The 2017 Human Rights Tulip has been awarded to Mexican human rights defender Graciela Pérez Rodriguez. Foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra will present her with the prize on Friday 8 December in The Hague, two days ahead of Human Rights Day. The Human Rights Tulip is an annual prize awarded by the Dutch government to human rights defenders who take an innovative approach to promoting human rights. The prize consists of a bronze sculpture and €100,000, which is intended to enable recipients to further develop their work.

Graciela Pérez Rodriguez defends the rights of family members of disappeared persons in Mexico. Through her work she attempts to break through the taboos surrounding this issue. The human rights defender is herself searching for her disappeared daughter, brother and three nephews. Graciela Pérez Rodriguez, a non-professional who has immersed herself in forensic science, is a founding member of the Forensic Citizen Science project. This national collective of disappeared persons’ family members in various Mexican states helped establish the Mexican National Citizen Registry of Disappeared Persons and a DNA database run by and for citizens, which facilitates the identification of victims’ remains at a late stage.

‘Despite the difficult circumstances in which she works, Graciela remains committed to searching for disappeared persons in Mexico,’ Mr Zijlstra said. ‘Human rights defenders like Graciela are indispensable in the fight for a better world. It takes pressure from the inside to achieve real change.’ Disappearances are a serious problem in Mexico. Between January and August this year over 2,400 people were reported missing. In mid-October the Mexican Congress passed a new law to combat disappearances, which provides for longer prison sentences and a committee tasked with finding disappeared persons. The Dutch government sees this law as an important step forward in dealing with this problem.