Opiyo is the Executive Director of the embattled Chapter Four Uganda, a Non-Governmental Organization - NGO dedicated to the protection of civil liberties and promotion of human rights for all.
Courtesy photo of Nicholas Opiyo after winning the human rights Tulip Award 2021
Human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo has won the 2021 Human Rights Tulip prize that was started by the Dutch
government in 2008. The prize is intended to support human rights defenders,
boost the visibility of their work and inspire others.
Since 2013, the focus has been on the innovative character of
the work these courageous individuals and organizations do. The
Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry awards
human rights defenders or human rights organizations approximately Shillings 400 million prize and a bronze Tulip sculpture annually to support the important
work they do.
Opiyo is the Executive Director of the embattled Chapter Four
Uganda, a Non-Governmental Organization - NGO dedicated to the protection of
civil liberties and promotion of human rights for all. He has played an
important role in criminalizing torture in Uganda and has also successfully
campaigned against a Ugandan anti-gay law.
Opiyo was among the 74 nominees drawn from Asia,
the Middle East and North Africa MENA-region, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the
Americas. They included 22 female contenders, 28 males, 23 organizations, and
one community. Reacting to his triumph, Opiyo dedicated the award
to the staff members, board of directors, clients of Chapter Four Uganda, and
the Ugandan human rights defenders community.
“This one is for you," the Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister, Ben Knapen, said while handing Opiyo the award.
The Dutch Foreign Ministry's blog website quoted the minister, saying he sees human
rights defenders as key workers who can help to protect basic rights and help the human race move forward.
"His work has made the LGBTI community in Uganda feel
stronger, in the knowledge that they have allies who support them," Knapen
said. The Minister noted that because of his work, Opiyo has been threatened,
spied on, and persecuted.
In December 2020, in the run-up to the elections, security picked up Opiyo and locked him up. "Even
when Nicholas was in prison his work continued. He gave other prisoners legal
advice, and so managed to secure the release of 68 people and make them
stronger so that they could also make a difference," Knapen explained.
Although he was charged with money laundering, the
government presented no evidence. He spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve in
jail. Human rights activists see the charges against Nicholas as a way to
hinder his work as a human rights lawyer.
Opiyo was announced the winner of the prestigious
award on Monday ahead of the commemoration of the International Human
Rights Day slated for December
10th, 2021. As a child, Opiyo grew up
in the epicenter of a brutal war between the Lord Resistance Army and
Today, working as a human rights lawyer, he says he is still
being threatened, spied on, and shadowed. The 2020 award went
to Armenian LGBTI activist Lilit Martirosyan.
My career in news reporting can be traced from Radio King 90.2 FM between 2008 - 2009, and Radio Rupiny 95.7 FM under Vision Group from 2011 - 2014.
I had one year spell as Reporter at the faith based Mighty Fire 91.5 Fm under Irene Gleeson Foundation in 2015 before joining Uganda Radio Network (URN) in 2016 as Special Projects Correspondent.
Worked for Wizarts Foundation (PM Live) in 2017 before being absorbed by URN as Chief East Acholi Bureau based in Kitgum, and later redeployed to Gulu City cove