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The European Parliament's top human rights award, the Sakharov Prize, has been given to a Sudanese lawyer working to defend human rights in Darfur.

Salih Mahmoud Osman, who works with the Sudan Organisation Against Torture (SOAT), has provided free legal representation for victims of the civil war and human rights abuses in Sudan for more than 20 years. He is also a member of the Sudanese Parliament.

Osman was jailed for more than seven months in 2004 without charge or trial. Members of his family have been killed, tortured or had their homes burned down by the militias.

The 50,000 Euro (US$72,000) prize was presented in a ceremony on 11 December in Strasbourg, during the Parliament's plenary session. "Over two decades during Sudan's various civil wars Salih Mahmoud Osman has risked his own life to provide legal and medical aid to the countless victims of the conflict," said the Parliament. "He is fighting with his voice to put a stop to the tremendous suffering in Darfur."

According to the "EU Observer", Osman has called on the EU to step up pressure on the Sudanese government, noting that "it is not enough to send humanitarian relief."

Named after former Russian physicist and human rights advocate Andrei Sakharov, the award is given each year to an exceptional individual or organisation fighting "to protect freedom of thought and expression against intolerance, fanaticism and hatred." Past winners include Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.

Visit these links:
- Sakharov Prize:
- "EU Observer":
(18 December 2007)

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