European lawmakers have awarded their top human rights prize to Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege who campaigns against sexual violence targeting women in war.

At Tuesday's plenary session, the legislature made the unanimous decision to pick Mukwege for the Sakharov Prize.

Mukwege, 59, set up the Panzi Hospital in eastern Congo's Bukavu in 1998 and still works with victims of sexual violence there.

Previous winners of the Sakharov Prize include Nobel Peace Prize laureates Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai won last year.

Other finalists for this year's award included the Euromaidan demonstrators and activists in Ukraine.