The Human Rights Office of the City of Nuremberg awarded the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award to Mr. Malcolm Bidali, a dedicated labor rights defender from Kenya. The award ceremony took place at the Nuremberg Opera House on Sunday, September 24, 2023.
About Mr. Malcolm Bidali
Mr. Bidali, also known as Noah, has tirelessly worked to expose the extreme exploitation and human rights violations faced by migrant workers, particularly in Qatar. His journey as a human rights advocate began during his time working as a security guard in Qatar, where he witnessed firsthand the dire conditions and hardships endured by these workers.
In May 2021, Mr. Bidali was detained in Qatar on charges related to his participation in an online event discussing labor rights in the country. He faced accusations of disseminating false information, which he vehemently denied. During his detention, he endured solitary confinement and was denied legal representation. It was only through global pressure from civil society and the International Labour Organization (ILO) that he was released in July 2021, but not before enduring significant hardships and a subsequent fine.
Mr. Bidali is not only an individual activist but also a co-founder of Migrant Defenders, a civil society organization based in Kenya dedicated to protecting the rights of migrant workers in the Middle East.
Despite global commitments to eradicate slavery and extreme exploitation, the world continues to grapple with this grave issue. Estimates suggest that 30-40 million people worldwide, including 2-3 million in Europe, live in conditions akin to slavery. These individuals often work in industries such as agriculture, construction, transportation, and hospitality, where their exploitation often goes unnoticed.
Mr. Bidali’s work shed light on the harsh realities faced by migrant workers in Qatar, where an estimated 6,500 workers lost their lives during the construction of stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He exposed the cramped living conditions, subpar food, and grueling working hours, sometimes in scorching temperatures.
In his advocacy, Mr. Bidali emphasized the importance of nuanced perspectives, acknowledging that some companies in Qatar adhered to labor laws, but they were exceptions. He also highlighted gender disparities, particularly in domestic work, and called for embassies to play a more active role in supporting their nationals in precarious situations.
Keep the Conversation Going
His unwavering commitment to addressing these challenging issues, along with his call to “Keep the Conversation Going,” resonates as a vital step in combatting modern slavery and exploitation. Mr. Bidali’s refusal to dissuade people from migrating but instead redirecting them to safe avenues is a wise approach.
Mr Bidali wants us to recognise the migrant workers in our own neighbourhood and greet them with a smile, acknowledging the common humanity we all share. When asked who are you? The migrant will reply as the bird catcher in Mozart’s der Zauberflöte “Ich bin ein Mench, wie du”.
The Nuremberg International Human Rights Award serves as a beacon of support for Mr. Bidali’s crucial work, recognizing his efforts to uphold human rights in the face of adversity. It is a reminder to us all to greet migrant workers in our communities with a smile, acknowledging our shared humanity.
In closing, Mr. Bidali, we hope that the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award will serve as a beacon of support, enabling you to continue your essential work. We wish you boundless strength on your journey ahead.
Director Morten Kjaerum
Please find Morten Kjaerum speech attached here:
As of 2020, Director Morten Kjaerum is part of the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award Jury.