During the ceremony, President Hollande emphasised the courage of human rights defenders who risk their lives daily, and who are represented by FIDH, Worldwide Movement for Human Rights with its 178 member organisations throughout the world. The French President stressed the need for French diplomacy to participate in the protection of human rights defenders and promised to take advantage of all opportunities to do so.
For the three recipients, this ceremony was first and foremost a tribute to the FIDH movement and to all human rights defenders. They drew the president’s attention to the dozens of cases of defenders who are arbitrarily detained throughout the world, in particular in Azerbaijan, Iran, Egypt and Angola. They moreover stressed the importance of systematically involving the French diplomacy to obtain their release, and also more generally for the protection of the defenders and of freedom to stand up for universal rights.
Michel Blum, French lawyer, FIDH President from 1983 to 1986, was promoted to the rank of Grand Officer.
Sidiki Kaba, Senegalese lawyer, Minister of Justice of Senegal, FIDH President from 2001 to 2007, was promoted to the rank of Commander.
Karim Lahidji, Iranian lawyer, FIDH President since 2013, was promoted to the rank of Knight.
Souhayr Belhassen and Patrick Baudouin who presided over FIDH from 2007 to 2013 and from 1995 to 2001 respectively were recently promoted in the National Order of the Legion of Honour by François Hollande.