Human Rights campaigner and a Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation (PTF), dedicated his Honorary Doctorate of Laws-award to the human rights campaigners in an East African country.
Peter Tatchell who on more than two occasions stalked and attempted to cause a citizen arrest against Zimbabwean leader, Robert Mugabe in Brussels and London, received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by London South Bank University, in recognition of his campaign work, at a ceremony held at Southwark Cathedral on November 16.
Speaking after being awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law, Mr. Tatchell said: “I dedicate my acceptance of this award to the heroic democracy, human rights, LGBTI and social justice activists in Uganda who are campaigning against the corrupt, authoritarian regime of President Yoweri Museveni.”
“Many of them have been arrested, beaten, tortured and jailed. I walk in their shadow and salute their extraordinary courage,” said Peter Tatchell, in reference to homosexuality community in Uganda.
In a speech on behalf of the PTF Trustees, Acting Chair, Gill Butler, said: “Peter Tatchell received this honour for his work as a human rights advocate and for his promotion of UK and international human rights law.”
“Others honoured were the architect David Adjaye, the former General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives Dame Karlene Davis DBE and the artist Maggie Hambling CBE.
“For 44 years, Peter has worked tirelessly as an advocate for human rights, both in the UK and internationally. Often putting himself at great personal risk, many times he has been arrested and beaten. This award is a fitting tribute to his extraordinary, unswerving humanitarian commitment.
"Next year he is 60 years old. With no plans to retire, he intends to continue campaigning for another 30 years.
"Following the creation of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, his work will expand and continue for many decades to come," said Ms Butler.
Commenting on receiving his honorary doctorate, Tatchell said: “I am very thankful to receive this recognition of my four decades promoting the enforcement of human rights law and, in particular, my innovative use of the legal power of citizen's arrest in a bid to bring President Robert Mugabe to justice for the crime of torture.
Mr. Tachell twice attempted to cause a citizen arrest on Mugabe on October 30, 1999 in London. He then on March 5, stalked President Mugabe in Brussels-Belgium but the Zimbabwean leader was rescued by his large number of bodyguards.
The human rights campaigner, Tatchell was using Section 134 of British Criminal Justice Act 1988 which authorises the prosecution of any person who commits an act of torture anywhere in the world, as defined in the UN Convention against Torture 1984, which Britain ratified and pledged to enforce.
“My contribution to human rights is small. But together with many other people, I have helped win major LGBTI law reforms; defended Muslims falsely accused of terrorism, secured asylum for LGBTI refugees, overturned infringements of civil liberties and supported the valiant work of LGBTI and human rights defenders in many countries. Our collective efforts have made a huge, positive difference.
“The citation mentions my two attempted citizen's arrests of President Mugabe on charges of torture and my bid to secure an arrest warrant for Henry Kissinger on charges of war crimes over the indiscriminate carpet-bombing of Cambodia,” Mr Tatchell explained.
He added: “I suspect this is the first time anyone has been given an Honorary Doctorate of Laws in tribute to an attempted citizen's arrest of a President and an attempted indictment of a former US Secretary of State. I am honoured and most grateful.”
According to London South Bank University, Vice Chancellor, Prof Martin Earwicker; Peter Tatchell remains a driving force for change. Receiving an honorary doctorate at Sussex last year, he urged the audience, 'Don't accept the world as it is. Dream about what the world could be - then make it happen.' Now, Pro Chancellor, for his outstanding achievements in the field of human rights both here in the UK and worldwide, I present to you Peter Tatchell for the degree of Honorary Doctorate of Laws.