The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award identifies and honors those who embody Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s belief that the power of individual and collective moral courage can overcome injustice. Each year, we honor outstanding champions of social justice who stand up to oppression, even at great personal risk, in the nonviolent pursuit of human rights.

On June 6, we were proud to present the RFK Human Rights Award to anti-detention and LGBTQ+ advocate, Arely Westley.

The ceremony featured opening remarks by Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and a keynote address by Rep. Jamie Raskin, ranking member, House Committee on Oversight and Accountability.

A longtime advocate for immigrant, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ communities, Arely Westley works with numerous organizations in New Orleans to uplift LGBTQ+ youth, stop abuses in ICE detention facilities, and expand access to immigrant support services. Recognized for her tireless efforts to combat injustice, Westley joins a distinguished group of more than 50 defenders and organizations honored throughout the Award’s history.

Westley, who identifies as a trans-Latinx woman, moved to Louisiana from Honduras at a young age. She currently serves as the Campaign Director at BreakOUT!, an organization that seeks to empower Black and Latinx transgender and gender non-conforming youth through leadership development programs. She is also a vital member of the Southeast Dignity Not Detention Coalition (SDND), a group of nonprofits and grassroots organizations committed to stopping human rights abuses by working to end immigration detention throughout the South.

The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award honors an individual or group of individuals who stand up to oppression at grave personal risk in the nonviolent pursuit of human rights. Since inception, the Human Rights Award has honored activists from 31 countries. We forge strategic partnerships with laureates whose work advances human rights causes all over the world. In combining resources and collaborating on strategy, our laureates amplify their transformative work to a worldwide audience.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy pledged that “those with the courage to enter moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe.” Our team of lawyers and issue experts collaborate with partners around the world to create lasting change. Through legal advocacy, we have freed political prisoners, defended the rule of law in autocratic regimes and amplified the voices of human rights defenders in the United States and abroad.

On June 6, 2023, the Parlamento del Pueblo Xinka (Parliament of the Xinka People) received the 40th annual RFK Human Rights Award.

On June 7, 2022, we were proud to present the RFK Human Rights Award to Cameroonian human rights defenders Maximilienne C. Ngo Mbe and Felix Agbor Nkongho (Balla) in Washington, D.C.

On October 27, 2021, laureate Guerline Jozef accepted the RFK Human Rights Award at a pop-up ceremony in San Diego, CA.