Posts Tagged ‘anti-racism’

Human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson to receive Michigan’s Wallenberg Medal

November 7, 2016

The University of Michigan’s 2016/17 Wallenberg Medal has been  awarded to civil rights lawyer and social justice activist Bryan Stevenson. He is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization he founded in 1989 that focuses on social justice and human rights in the context of criminal justice reform in the United States. EJI litigates on behalf of condemned prisoners, juvenile offenders, people wrongly convicted or charged, poor people denied effective representation, and others whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct. Under Stevenson’s direction, EJI has handled hundreds of cases and spared the lives of 125 death row prisoners. Stevenson’s arguments have convinced the U.S. Supreme Court that juveniles in non-homicide cases may not be sentenced to life without parole. He is creating a memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, to commemorate the more than 4,000 persons who were lynched in 12 southern states between 1871 and 1950.

Stevenson is a professor of law at New York University, where he prepares students to consider the legal needs of those in resource-deprived regions. He has been a visiting professor of law at the U-M Law School. He wrote the prize-winning book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” and has won numerous awards and honors, including Reebok Award (1989), the Gleitsman Award (2000). the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award Prize, the ACLU National Medal of Liberty, the Olaf Palme Prize for international human rights (2000), the Gruber Prize for International Justice (2009) and the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award.

Raoul Wallenberg was a 1935 graduate of U-M’s College of Architecture. As a Swedish diplomat Wallenberg saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews near the end of World War II.

NOTE: There are at least two other awards with Wallenberg in the title:

  • Raoul Wallenberg Prize (Council of Europe )
  • Raoul Wallenberg and Civic Courage Awards (USA), and there is
  • the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (Lund, Sweden)

The ceremony for Stevenson will take place on 7 March, 2017; after the medal presentation, Stevenson will give the 25th Wallenberg Lecture.

Source: Lawyer, activist Bryan Stevenson to receive Wallenberg Medal | The University Record

Timmins High School, Canada, shows the way in local action

March 25, 2015

For those who don’t realise how much is going on at the local level in support of human right, here is a little story from Canada. Alan S. Hale in The Daily Press of 24 March describes an evening at Timmins High School:”Local defenders of human rights to be honoured“.

Tom Baby and Toree Doupont hold up with winning posters from the anti-racism poster contest held in local schools during the campaign leading up to the Evening of Applause scheduled at Timmins High Wednesday night.

Tom Baby and Toree Doupont hold up with winning posters from the anti-racism poster contest held in local schools during the campaign leading up to the Evening of Applause scheduled at Timmins High Wednesday night

The inaugural Evening of Applause is being organized by a recently-formed committee made up of the local school boards and post-secondary institutions, as well as the Timmins Friendship Centre and the Timmins Local Immigration Partnership. The committee’s goal was to reproduce the successful campaign which has been taking place every year in North Bay for the past 25 years.

We decided that we wanted to start that project up here in Timmins. So in September, we brought together representatives from all the different education institutions and formed a committee. So this committee has been putting together all the different events to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (which was on March 21,)” recalled Tom Baby, the Timmins Local Immigration Partnership coordinator.

For the past three months, the committee has been doing a variety of awareness raising activities in local schools, including in-class instruction and an anti-racism poster contest. The contest drew many submissions, but in the end, the winners were Lindsay Johnston in Grade 3, Emily Morreau in Grade 6 and Cassandra Lapointe in Grade 7. All three students received a $50 prize for their posters. [Anita Spadafore of Amnesty International; Dan McKay who is a local advocate for people with seeing disabilities and founding member of the Barrier Elimination Action Committee, and Ed Ligocki who is the executive director of the Good Samaritan Inn homeless shelter.]

During the Evening of Applause, the first three honourees will be inducted onto the Human Rights Wall of Fame, which will be a new permanent fixture at the Timmins Public Library.

Local defenders of human rights to be honoured | Timmins Press.

Judicial harassment of human rights defender Dimitras in Greece

February 1, 2014

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), a member of OMCT SOS-Torture network, about the ongoing judicial harassment against Panayote Dimitras, GHM Spokesperson. According to the information received, on 14 January 2014, Mr. Panayote Dimitras received an indictment from the Misdemeanours Prosecutor of Athens, summoning him on 27 February 27 before the Court to stand trial on charges of “perjury” and “defamation” of Mr. Konstantinos Plevris, a member lawyer of the Athens Bar Association.

The  accusation relates Panayote Dimitras’ statement as a witness before the First Chamber of the Five Members Appeals Court of Athens on 23 January  2009, during a hearing of a case against Mr. Konstantinos Plevris, who then stood accused of racial discrimination”. During the hearing, Mr. Dimitras testified that “during the last two months Mr. Plevris ha[d]threatened [his] life”. Yet the indictment accuses Mr. Dimitras of making a false statement that could harm the honour and reputation of Mr. Plevris while knowing that it was untrue.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is concerned that Mr. Panayote Dimitras received this indictment merely one week before the charges become time-barred. Although the events took place in January 2009 and a preliminary investigation took place in February 2010, suddenly charges are pressed. The prescription period is now extended by three years.

OMCT is concerned about these new acts of harassment against Mr. Panayote Dimitras, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, and in particular his activities against discrimination, anti-Semitism and minority rights in Greece, and calls upon the Greek authorities to ensure that he is able to carry out his legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.  OMCT recalls that this is not the first time that Panayote Dimitras is facing judicial harassment by Konstantinos Plevris, who has been referred to trial several times for, among others, violation of [anti-racism] Law 927/79, concurrent aggravated defamation, and false accusation following GHM complaints.

For more on this procedurally complex but interesting case see:

Greece: Ongoing judicial harassment against human rights defender Mr. Panayote Dimitras / January 30, 2014 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

Amidst legislative disarray over bill to combat racism in Greece, neo-nazi party comes with own bill to ‘protect’ Greeks

June 5, 2013

At a time when other parties in Greece are squabbling over how to toughen anti-racism laws and ban denial of Nazi crimes, the neo-nazi Golden Dawn exploits the disarray by tabling on Tuesday tabled draft legislation seeking harsher laws for offences committed by undocumented migrants in Greece. The draft also seeks to criminalise denial of “genocides of Greeks [on the basis that Turks have massacred ethnic Greeks in what used to be the Ottoman Empire]. An explanatory memorandum to the draft bill says the law would “preserve the national memory”. No fewer than four other draft anti racism bills are now being submitted – separately by New Democracy, Syriza and Independent Greeks, and a joint bill by Pasok and Democratic Left.  In a statement released last Thursday, Human Rights Watch slammed the government for not reaching an agreement on proposed anti racism legislation.“ With people being attacked on the streets, Greece urgently needs to beef up its criminal justice response to hate crimes,” said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “This draft law contains some good provisions and should be improved in parliament rather than delayed further.”

via Golden Dawn submits draft bill to combat racism against Greeks | Article Page | Home.


Good breaking news from Cyprus: HRD Doros Polycarpou acquitted!

June 5, 2012

Today, 5 June 2012, Doros Polycarpou, the Executive Director of Cypriot anti-racist NGO KISA, was acquitted of the charge of rioting during the 2010 Rainbow Festival in Larnaca. This decision is final and is not open for appeal. The judge found the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses to be not credible. The Observatory for Human Rights  Defenders (OMCT-FIDH joint project) had sent Cretan lawyer Costaz Gazis as trial observer.

This ruling confirms the view of a wide coalition of international NGOs that the accusations were manifestly false and were an attempt by the Cypriot authorities to silence KISA, an organisation that has being fighting xenophobia and racism in Cyprus for 14 years.

The same NGOs deplore that, despite repeated requests to the Attorney General and the Council of Ministers, no independent investigation was carried out about the events that occurred in Larnaca in 2010, in particular with respect to the alleged failure of police to protect the Rainbow Festival’s participants. More than a year and a half later, no one has been charged with the crimes which resulted in serious injuries and hospitalisation of people who participated in the Festival. The evidence points to the fact that attackers were motivated by xenophobia and racism.

The organisations mentioned below add that they regret the charges were not withdrawn earlier and urge the Cypriot authorities to use the occasion of Doros Polycarpou’s acquittal to mark the beginning of new cooperation between the Cyprus state and human rights defenders.


European Association for Human Rights/ Association Européenne des droits de l’Homme (AEDH)

Euro-Mediterranean Network for Human Rights

European Network Against Racism

Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Programme

Front Line Defenders


Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (joint programme OMCT-FIDH)

Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants