Human Rights Tulip award has nominated Mirza Shahzad Akbar from Pakistan for his exceptional efforts to fight the extreme human rights abuses that Pakistani citizens are facing.

Mirza Shahzad is founder and director of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights. He is known to be the first lawyer on ground to protect civilian drone strike victims, which started in 2004 during President Pervaiz Musharraf’s era. He aimed to challenge the US covert drone strikes in non-combat zones.

Akbar also fights to end the practice of enforced disappearances, abolition of the death penalty in Pakistan, litigating cases of strategic significance with a view to saving lives and creating systemic change. He further spearheads the ground-breaking work of his foundation to abolish the death penalty for drug offences in Pakistan. Finally, Akbar is involved in other human-rights regarding public interest litigation including issues such as torture, gender and land rights.

The Human Rights Tulip is an award of the Dutch government, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for courageous human rights defenders who promote and support human rights in innovative ways. The prize is intended to help human right defenders to learn from each other. The winner of the Human Rights Tulip is awarded with the tulip-shaped bronze statuette and the winner also receives extensive training and support worth €25,000. Moreover, the winner is given €75.000 to expand and further develop the sphere of his efforts for human rights.

Mirza Shahzad is the 3rd Pakistani to receive this award. Before him Tulip prize was awarded in 2013 to Aahung, a Pakistani human rights organization working for sexual and reproductive health and rights, and to Nighat Dad in 2016 for her efforts regarding women rights to use internet free of harassment.