The German Africa Award 2017 went to the Ugandan human rights lawyer Nicolas Opiyo. The 37-year-old was honoured for his extraordinary commitment in the defence of civil rights and political freedoms in Uganda.
Nicholas Opiyo is particularly distinguished by his commitment to sensitive issues that many of his colleagues are afraid to take on. As founder and leader of the Chapter Four Uganda, he has become an opinion leader in civil society, not only expressing his firm views on the state of democracy, but also leading prominent court cases in defence of civil rights and political participation. Opiyo became one of the most influential voices in Uganda in advocating for constitutional order and the rule of law in an increasingly autocratic environment. He has heavily criticised electoral legislation, restrictions on freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
With his fearless and persistent commitment to the defence of the Ugandan constitution, Nicholas Opiyo has become not only a key figure for the future democratic development in Uganda, but also a beacon of hope for many people both inside and outside the country.
The news of the award was delivered personally in Kampala by the Chief Executive of the German Embassy in Uganda, Ms Petra Kochendörfer, who thanked Nicholas Opiyo for his extraordinary work. The award ceremony itself took place at the Allianz Forum in Berlin in the presence of 300 invited guests from politics, business and civil society. This year, the German Africa Award was presented by Federal President Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier