Timmermans awards Geuzen Medal to Hammarberg

‘We need independent international judges to safeguard human rights, however much it upsets national politicians,’ said foreign minister Frans Timmermans today in the Grote Kerk, Vlaardingen, where he awarded the Geuzen Medal to the Swede Thomas Hammarberg. ‘Strong institutions to protect human rights are essential, and those institutions, such as the European Court of Human Rights, deserve our unreserved support,’ said Mr Timmermans.

From 2006 to 2012, Thomas Hammarberg was Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe. During that time, he addressed violations of human rights in many countries, including the Netherlands. He is currently working as a senior expert on human rights for the United Nations. He is also active as a special adviser to the European Union on legal and constitutional reforms and human rights in Georgia.

The Dutch government wholeheartedly supports the priority attached by Mr Hammarberg to freedom of expression and internet freedom. ‘In our world, protecting these freedoms is crucial,’ said Mr Timmermans. ‘Freedom of expression and privacy are the driving forces behind freedom, democracy and the free exchange of ideas.’

The annual Geuzen Medal was first awarded in 1987. It is intended for individuals and/or institutions that have made a special contribution to promoting democracy or fighting dictatorship, discrimination and racism. Previous winners include Václav Havel, Amnesty International, Max van der Stoel, Doctors Without Borders, Richard von Weizsäcker and the Anne Frank House.