Thor Halvorssen’s and his Passion for Human Rights

Thor Halvorssen, or Leonardo Halvorssen Mendoza, is a Venezuelan human rights advocate born in 1976. He advocates for civil rights, human rights, public interest, and democracy. He founded the Oslo Freedom Forum where activists of human rights come together annually. According to the Economist, the forum is a good event that is almost similar to forums like Davos Gathering, but whose agenda is human rights. Thor is the president at Human Rights Foundation, an organization that fights for people’s freedom and right. He also serves as patron in a kid’s peace movement called On Own Feet based in Czech Republic. Thor also started the Moving Picture Institute.

Thor’s Background

Thor’s father was the ambassador for the anti-narcotic campaign of the government. He was also a special investigator in Venezuela’s senate commission. Thor is a History and Political Science graduate as well as post-graduate from Pennsylvania University.

His Parents’ Struggles

While Thor was studying at the university, his father arrested for claims of money laundering as well as fraud. For this, his father was imprisoned for 3 months where he was tortured and beaten to near-death. Another crime they charged him with was terrorism. Thor feared for his father’s safety in prison. Thus, he began a campaign so that he would be freed. With the help of Amnesty International, Thor’s father was released from prison because he was proven innocent. After his release, the International Society for Human Rights‘ Pan-American Committee made him director at the firm.

The fight for human rights and politics run deep in Thor’s family. His mother was once shot while attending a peaceful protest. Most of the protestors were shot by police in Venezuela whenever they went to demonstrate and sustained injuries. The acts that the police engaged in was caught on camera and aired on TV. This led to the capturing of the shooters. At first, the shooters were tried but had their sentences revoked later on. Later, the shooters were retried. Each of them was given a 3-year jail sentence.


Thor got the Sol Feinston Award at his former university for the good work he has been doing as a human rights activist. In 2010, Thor was given a Silver Medal from Romanian president as appreciation to him for the devotion he has shown in fighting for human rights. He not only fights for human rights in his country but in other nations as well.