The Rafto Prize goes to Poland

Rafto Prize bodnar polandThe Polish lawyer and the Ombudsman for Human Rights, Adam Bodnar, is the winner of the Rafto Prize for 2018. Photo: Rafto / Kluczek / NTB scanpix. Collage: NTM

The Rafto Prize to Human Rights activist in Poland

The Polish lawyer and Ombudsman for Human Rights, Adam Bodnar, is awarded the Rafto Prize for 2018.


Thorolf Rafto’s memorial award is awarded to Adam Bodnar for his important voice in the ongoing political development in Poland, a defender of minorities and the independent role of the Courts in Poland.

The award is based on the fact that Bodnar as Ombudsman has put the spotlight on the crucial role of independent Ombudsman institutions for human rights, both in Poland and in other countries, where actors and institutions protecting fundamental rights are under attack.

State-run media

The Law and Justice party in Poland (PiS) who won the elections in October 2015 and has a majority in the National Assembly, has introduced a number of legislative changes that curb the independence of the courts.

The Government also took control of state-run media shortly after the elections and fired the management.

Despite major protests and threats of sanctions from the EU, the National Assembly adopted the law in 2017, which in practice leaves the control of the Supreme Court to the politicians.

Fear of aliens in Poland

The current laws restrict the public’s rights of insight and opportunity to influence. The rights of vulnerable groups are repeatedly set aside.

The prize winner points out that the Government’s policy contributes to the increased fear of aliens and legitimises hatred against vulnerable groups. He believes that human rights and tolerance must be taught in the Polish schools.

As the Ombudsman for Human Rights, Adam Bodnar has worked with minority rights by combating hatred and violence. This applies in particular to the situation of migrants, national ethnic minorities, women, people with disabilities and sexual minorities.

Public beratement

the Rafto foundation states that the Ombudsman carries out his mission against a headwind.

The existence of the Ombudsman’s institution is threatened today and Adam Bodnar is exposed to public beratement. They are accused of spreading false information and subjected to strong criticisms, hate speech and personal threats in state-run media.

The Ombudsman’s budget has been severely cut while the number of cases has increased. In addition, the ombudsman is countered by the authorities and in many cases, letters are not responded to, and suggestions ignored. It has also been suggested that the institution should no longer be protected by the constitution.

Adam Bodnar was sworn in as an Ombudsman by the National Assembly in September 2015. As a civil servant, he can not receive the prize money that accompanies the Rafto Prize. The Foundation has therefore decided that the prize money should go to an organization or person working for human rights in Poland.

The Rafto Prize will be awarded on Sunday, November 4th, in Bergen.

The Rafto Prize

Professor Thorolf Rafto’s Memorial Prize is a prize awarded by Thorolf Rafto’s Foundation for Human Rights to individuals, organizations or groups fighting for ideas and principles that support the UN’s human rights charter.

Thorolf Rafto was a professor of economic history at the Norwegian School of Economics.

The Rafto Prize is awarded every year on the first Sunday in November at the National Scene in Bergen.

The Rafto Prize has been awarded every year since 1987 and has gradually gained great international attention and prestige. The prize is awarded to people, groups or organisations that are not known worldwide.

The intention is to create focus around them so that the work they do becomes easier.

Four of the recipients or matters that have received the Rafto Prize have later been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – Aung San Suu Kyi, José Ramos-Horta, Kim Dae-jung, Shirin Ebadi.


© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today


1 Comment on "The Rafto Prize goes to Poland"

  1. The article show an astonishing level of ignorance about internal affairs in Poland.
    Mr. Bodnar is not like other 31 human rights defenders prized by Rafto, he was elected by the former parliament and is a loyal member of the former political establishment in Poland,so Rafto actually prized values the Pole voted against in 2015. Rafto prize suppose to be “Recognition to those who fight against oppression” hence Bodnar fights against oppression in Poland? Are you people completely out of your minds?

Comments are closed.