All the winners


Rights of political prisoners


Ana Leonor Acosta Merida is a Venezuelan lawyer, activist and human rights defender. Since 2014, she has been defending political prisoners in her country, as well as representing opposition political leaders and student leaders. She has defended in national and international forums several victims of repression who have been disappeared, arbitrarily detained and tortured. Ana Leonor has also campaigned on several occasions for the release of political prisoners in her country. She founded the Coalition for Human Rights and Democracy (CDHD), a civil society organization that denounces cases of persecution. The laureate has also fought in the past against the lack of guarantees in the Venezuelan judicial system.



Interview with Ana Leonor Acosta Merida - June 21, 2023

Could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Ana Leonor Acosta Merida and I'm a Venezuelan human rights lawyer.

Could you tell me more about your project and your association?

My project is to build meeting places that will enable dialogue on democracy and the future of Venezuela, and thus enable negotiations for peace in our country. I am Executive Director of the Coalition for Human Rights and Democracy (DDHH), an NGO that defends political prisoners and denounces cases of torture and degrading treatment. Our organization fights for fair trials, the release of unjustly incarcerated prisoners, and improvements to the Venezuelan justice system. Our mission is to rebuild our country's democracy and create spaces for peace.

How did the Marianne initiative help you make your project a reality? What activities did you find most useful during the program?

The training courses helped me a lot, especially those on project management. Exchanges with NGOs working for human rights were also very useful, especially those with over 20 years' experience. It gave me a new perspective on how our actions can have a positive impact on human rights. My vision of things changed thanks to these meetings, and I really appreciated being able to share our respective experiences. The program's activities were very varied. The courses at Sciences Po were of a high quality and very relevant, especially those on negotiation and leadership, as well as those on social movements.

What do you plan to do after the program ends?

I'm going to return to Venezuela, put into practice what I've learned during the program and share my knowledge with my colleagues. I will continue to fight for the release of political prisoners, human rights, democracy and peace.

Would you like to add anything?

Thanks to the Marianne initiative, I've been able to broaden my vision and consider other possibilities in terms of activism. Sharing experiences with the thirteen other winners has enabled me to approach the situation in my country in a different way, so that I can continue to make progress in defending human rights.

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