Every year, each political group in the European Parliament puts forward a candidate for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Candidates must meet three main objectives: opportunity, representation of global values and the effectiveness of awarding them the prize.
The Sakharov Prize must not only provide moral support or encouragement, but must also help to achieve the noble objectives for which the prize is awarded or provide a protective shield against persecution.
And the nomination goes to...
All those requirements come together in the Mesa de Unidad Democrática (Democratic Unity Roundtable), the platform that unites democratic opposition to the totalitarianist regime of the current Venezuelan President Maduro and to imprisoned political prisoners.
Put forward by the Spanish delegation in the EPP Group, "The Democratic opposition in Venezuela embodied by the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática and political prisoners" was selected as our candidate for the 2015 Sakharov Prize.
On many occasions, our Group has obtained a large majority of support in plenary for resolutions on the situation in Venezuela and the persecution that democratic opposition suffers there. Now, with this proposal, we intend to reach out for the same support from the S&D, ECR and ALDE Groups, to stand behind the democratic opposition in Venezuela in advance of the legislative elections called for 6 December 2015 and in which, being a plural coalition, they will stand together.
Awarding them the Sakharov Prize could contribute to the triumph of democracy and respect for human rights in Venezuela, where the majority of the population endures unbearable suffering.
About the situation in Venezuela
One year and a half after the demonstrations that took place in Venezuela more than 1700 protesters await trial, more than 70 remain jailed and at least 40 people were killed in the protests, with no one as yet held unaccountable for their murders.
A democratic state must not criminalise the leaders of the political opposition and must guarantee the participation of all sectors in the political life of the country.
Politicians like Leopoldo Lopez, Antonio Ledezma, Daniel Ceballos, students and other opposition leaders remain arbitrarily detained or under house arrest, on the basis of unfounded accusations and for exercising their right to freedom of expression and their fundamental rights. This has been stated by several UN bodies and international organisations.
The key dates
10 September 2015: deadline for nominations
28 September 2015: presentation of nominees in a joint meeting of the Development, Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Committees (open to all Members)
15 October 2015: vote on three finalists in a joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Development Committees
29 October 2015: decision by the Conference of Presidents on the final Laureate(s)
23 November 2015: joint meeting of the Development, Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Committees with the 2015 laureate(s) at 19.30 in Strasbourg
16 December 2015: prize award ceremony in plenary in Strasbourg at 12.00