The 2003 Rafto Prize was awarded to Paulos Tesfagiorgis (1947) for his efforts to improve the rights and democratic influence of the people of Eritrea.
By awarding Tesfagiorgis the Rafto Prize, the Rafto Foundation gave their support to Eritreans who fight, by using non-violent means, against oppression and the militarization of the Eritrean society
Tesfagiorgis fought for his people by establishing the only PFDJ licensed Regional Centre for Human Rights and Development in Eritrea. (The People's Front for Democracy and Justice) Tesfagiorgis was also co-founder and head of the Eritrean Relief Association during the Eritrean war of independence. Following Eritrean independence he was appointed to the commission which drafted Eritrea's constitution. The constitution was ratified in 1997. In 2002 Tesfagiorgis and 17 other Eritreans set up the "Citizens Initiative for the Salvation of Eritrea" (CISE)
From his exile in London, and later in South Africa,Tesfagiorgis has been working for the advocacy organisation Justice Africa, and has spent much time working for agreement among other Eritrean dissidents on a non-violent democratic alternative for Eritrea. He believes that only democratically elected governments have legitimacy, because they are always accountable to the people they govern. For this reason he also abstains from violence. In June 2015 a United Nations Commission of Inquiry accused President Afwerki of systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations that may constitute crimes against humanity.