Earlier this year, a Belgian member of the European Parliament proposed Zefzafi as a candidate for the prize.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) announced on August 24 that the selection panel had released the shortlist for the 2019 Prize. The list of nominees includes Ilham Tohti of China, Buzurgmehr Yorov of Tajikistan, and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights.
The winner will receive a prize of €60,000. The council will announce the winner to the public at the opening of PACE’s autumn plenary session in Strasbourg on September 30.
In April, Belgian member of the European Parliament Kathleen Van Brempt proposed the Hirak Rif detainee as a candidate for the prize, which rewards “outstanding civil society action in the defence of human rights in Europe and beyond.”
“We nominate Nasser Zafzafi for the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize,” Brempt said on Facebook.
Zefzafi is one of the four Hirak activists who were sentenced to 20-year imprisonment in June 2018 for participating in unauthorized protests in the Al Hoceima province.
PACE awards the prize annually in partnership with the Vaclav Havel Library and the Charter 77 Foundation. The prize rewards human rights activists in memory of writer Vaclav Havel, who served as President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic.
In 2018, Zefzafi was also a finalist for the Sakharov “Freedom of Thought Prize.”
Members of the European Parliament in the foreign affairs and development committees voted for the three finalists of the Sakharov Prize. The voting committee chose Nasser Zefzafi, along with Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker, and NGOs working to save migrants in the Mediterranean sea. Sentsov won the prize.