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The ceremony for the first edition of the CILD Awards for Civil Liberties was held on November 13, 2015.

The goal of the awards is to acknowledge the work of those who have distinguished themselves throughout the year in the promotion and protection of civil liberties and helped to spread the culture of human rights in our country.

The jury was made up of the board of CILD and three external judges: Antonio Marchesi (director of Amnesty International Italia), Arianna Ciccone (co-founder of the International Journalism Festival and Valigia Blu) and Francesca Vecchioni (Diversity Lab).

The winners were selected for their individual and collective work in protecting the rights of others on a daily basis, in the awareness that human rights and civil liberties are mutually dependent and indivisible.

The ceremony was hosted by Carlo Gabardini and included a performance by world renowned pianist Stefania Passamonte.

We were also joined by some guests who have been working for years to protect the rights of all people: our guests of honour Anthony Romero (executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union) and Balasz Denes from Open Society, the organization which helped create CILD and which, along with the Oak Foundation, has been supporting us ever since.

Here is the list of the winners:

Young Activist Award: Valeria Verdolini. Io sto con la sposa by Antonio Agugliaro, Gabriele Del Grande and Khaled Soliman Al Nassiry. Social activism is expressed in many ways, and Valeria knows that you can only talk about what you have witnessed. She did not hesitate to put herself on the line, offering us a new perspective on the difficulties of migrants and those who help them.

Collective Voice Award: Primavera Romanì. Twenty young Rom and Sinti activists from several cities across Italy, with different backgrounds; some of them live in “camps”, others in houses, but they share a common goal: to help  build a country where discrimination and intolerance have been replaced by dialogue and inclusion.

Between September 19-21, they participated in the “Primavera Romanì” Convention, creating the political manifesto of the same name which was then presented in the Senate. The contents of this document and the hard work that went into it represent a strong motivation to reward young people who dream of a different Italy.

Civil Servant Award: Francesco Mondello. He is one of the many prison officers working in Bollate Prison near Milan. Without him, many of the social rehabilitation projects there would not have been possible. A fan of rock music, he is at the heart of a project where inmates become musicians. In prison, time and space is shared with inmates by the prison officers. Only the dialogue between the two can make the prison a place for social re-integration and the respect of human rights.

Attorney Award: the legal team in the Oliari case: Filomena Gallo, Alexander Schuster, Massimo Clara, Cesare Pitea and Marilisa D’Amico. In the European Court of Human Rights, during the case of Oliari and others v. Italy, the work of this team led to a groundbreaking judgment confirming how Italian laws offer no provisions for same-sex couples. Thanks to their work, Italy was unanimously condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for having violated the fundamental human right of respect for the private and family life of same-sex couples.

Researcher Award: Professor Emmanuele Jannini and Professor Giacomo Ciocca. They are the authors of a recent study on homophobia, which was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. On  the basis of psychometric evaluations,  their research shows that homophobic people display personality traits that are conducive to the hate and loathing of homosexuals. Homophobia has always been described as the result of social or religious conditioning. Now, thanks to this research, after centuries spent debating whether homosexuality is a disease or not, it has been found that the real disease to be treated is homophobia.

Journalist Award: Carola Frediani. A journalist and author, Frediani co-founded the EFFECINQUE agency in 2010. Also a social media editor for La Stampa, she writes about new technologies, digital culture and hacking for L’Espresso, Wired, Corriere della Sera, Il Secolo XIX, DailyDot and TechPresident. She was awarded for her original research on hacktivism and her thorough analyses on the market of mass surveillance.

Teacher Award: Lucrezia Di Gregorio. A teacher at ISISS (a state school for the specialized education of the deaf) Magarotto in Rome from its establishment in 2001, in 2007 she began coordinating the work of all the primary school teachers in this extraordinary experience of integration between different languages and cultures, day after day. The cultural and linguistic message are deeply connected. For the children at ISISS, there is no qualitative difference between speaking and using sign language, hence they are taught to value diversity. This is also why the school has attracted a great number of foreign children over the years, and has taken on a decidedly multicultural and multiethnic identity.

Company Award: Barikamà. The Cooperativa Sociale Barikamà (which means resistance in Bambara) was founded in 2011 thanks to a micro-income project. It distributes organic yoghurt and vegetables with the help of fair trade groups. The founders are five African men living in Rome: Suleman, Aboubakar, Cheikh, Sidiki and Modibo. Four of them also participated in the January 2010 revolt in Rosarno against racism and the exploitation of illegally employed farm labourers.

Without losing its social connotations, Barikamà has become a business. Symbolically, it marks the end of exploitation, as it is a reminder of the violence that migrants suffer at the hands of foremen and criminal bosses; in addition, it gives value to the idea of micro-credit and has a strong, financially sustainable anti-racism, pro-integration message. It is a model of social liberation and support for the local economy.

TV Award: Gazebo (Diego Bianchi). Unlike every other talk show, the TV show hosted by Diego Bianchi, co-written with Marco D’Ambrosio, Antonio Sofi, Andrea Salerno and Marco Damilano, has shown both good and bad examples of how refugees are treated in Italy. Balancing irony and seriousness, Gazebo has shown the many aspects of the migrant emergency, from the arrivals in Lampedusa to the integration of refugees within several communities (the one in Sulcis, Sardinia, among them), to the lives of those who have found jobs, even temporary ones, to the journey of those who are traveling across Europe on the Balkan route. In its funny and touching way, the show has brought the daily existence of these people to a wider audience.

Book Award: Daniele Biella, Nawal, l’angelo dei profughi. The book tells the story of Nawal, the angel of Syrian refugees fleeing war. Twenty-seven-year-old Nawal arrived from Morocco to Catania as a child: there, she volunteers to help thousands of migrants survive the desperate crossing of the Mediterranean and to not give in to human traffickers. She lives with her cell phone pressed to her ear. And in Catania, as well as the rest of Italy, many more have joined her in her mission to assist and support others.

Film Award: Me, Myself and Her, by Maria Sole Tognazzi. Finally, a story about the love between two women, otherwise ignored altogether by Italian filmmakers, told without oversimplification and stereotypes, bringing the daily life of a lesbian couple to the screen. With its gentle touch and brilliant freshness, Me, Myself and Her is a film for everyone because it leads the viewer to recognize that love belongs to everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Social Media Award: Patrizia Moretti. Since her son Federico Aldrovandi was killed by four police officers on September 25, 2005, Patrizia Moretti has never stopped fighting for justice. Among the many platforms she has used are her blog, the Fondazione Aldrovandi website and her Facebook posts. One of the most important messages penned by Patrizia appeared last July: in it, she announced that she would drop defamation charges against NCD Senator Carlo Giovanardi, Paolo Forlani (one of the four agents convicted in the killing of her son) and Franco Maccari (president of the police officers’ union, COISP). Moretti explained that she did not regret pressing charges to defend her family from libel, but added that, 10 years on, it had become time to stop devoting time and energy to those who killed her son, and that no conviction could ever change things.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Giorgio Bignami. For 40 years a researcher in psychopharmacology and psychotoxicology at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Rome, Giorgio Bignami worked closely with mental health operators and drug addiction services, supporting the fight for a new Italian psychiatry as a board member of Fondazione Franca and, together with Franco Basaglia, for a new policy on drugs. He has done a particularly outstanding job of exposing the frequent scientific and pseudo-scientific falsifications on the harmfulness of certain drugs, especially cannabis. He was President of the Associazione Forum Droghe from 2010 until 2014. His work is particularly valuable now that a draft bill on the legalization of cannabis is about to be discussed in the Chamber of Deputies.

Person of the Year Award: the volunteers at the Baobab Centre where hundreds of refugees are taken in. The volunteers who run it possess incredible sensitivity, experiencing as they do thousands of difficulties and obstacles daily. Every day Baobab welcomes people seeking help, relief and support. Resources are often scarce, but these volunteers do not lose heart thanks to their amazing willpower. An example and a model in every respect, they fill an unfortunate institutional vacuum.

During the ceremony, the Media Action Award was also assigned in collaboration with Fusion and Univision: the award followed the two-week-long initiative on the refugee crisis known as The 19 Million Project, organized by CILD and Chicas Poderosas.