President Mary McAleese paid tribute at a reception in Dublin today to a human rights champion who was recently imprisoned in Sudan.
Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam was arrested just hours before he boarded a plane bound for Ireland to pick up the inaugural Front Line Award for his work in the field of human rights.
His wife, Sabah Mohamed Adam Ali, and 10-year-old daughter, Huda, were granted emergency visas and received the award on his behalf at a ceremony in City Hall that was attended by 26 ambassadors. Dr Mudawi sent a message of thanks to the reception.
Mrs McAleese said Dr Mudawi, the director of the Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO), a voluntary organisation engaged in humanitarian activities in Darfur and human rights development throughout the country, worked tirelessly for others.
"Dr Mudawi has been profoundly involved in humanitarian and human rights work throughout Sudan but of course the dreadful misery that is Darfur has consumed much of his recent work and focus," she said.
"He has paid a high personal price for that work - harassment, imprisonment, false allegations, solitary confinement. He has protested through hunger strike and faces an uncertain future. He has earned this award the hard way."
Dr Mudawi, a 49-year-old professor of engineering, has been arrested twice before by the Sudanese authorities. He is now facing espionage charges that carry a potential death penalty.
Front Line - an Irish -based international organisation that provides grants, advocacy and protection for human rights defenders at risk from intimidation or violence - rewarded Dr Mudawi for his work in the war-torn country.