The Rafto Foundation chose Jiří Hájek (1913-1993), the former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Czechoslovakia, to be its first recipient of the Rafto Prize for Human Rights.
Jiří Hájek was one of the four founders and architects of Charta 77, the civil rights movement. Jiří Hájek emerged as a prominent spokesperson for Charta 77. Despite facing police interrogations and threats on his life, he determinedly raised awareness for and defended the uncompromising Charta 77 document, which voiced the principals of universal human rights.
As president of Charta 77, Jiří Hájek briefly enjoyed the cooperation and friendship of the Norwegian human rights activist Thorolf Rafto from Bergen, whom he respected for his convictions and ideals.
The ideas of the Charta 77 are congenial with the principles of the Rafto Foundation. It was fitting that the front figure of Charta 77 was awarded the first Rafto Prize (1987). Jiří Hájek acted as a torch bearer for the fight for human rights tradition.