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ERRC receives Gruber Foundation International Justice Prize

11 June 2009

New York: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is proud to announce that it has been awarded the prestigious Justice Prize of the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation on the tenth anniversary of the Gruber Prize Program. The ERRC will share this award with Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). The Gruber Foundation Justice Prize is presented to individuals or organisations for contributions that have advanced the cause of justice, as delivered through the legal system. The award is intended to acknowledge individual efforts, as well as to encourage further advancements in the field and progress towards bringing about a fundamentally just world.

The Gruber Foundation stated that both recipients have been recognised ‘for their tireless advocacy of human rights for individuals belonging to oppressed groups that historically have not had an effective voice in, or access to, the justice system.'

'The work of Bryan Stevenson and that of the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) demonstrate what can be accomplished against tremendous odds when highly principled, knowledgeable, and committed people appeal for justice,' said Judge Bernice Donald, U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee. 'In securing access to justice for those most in need of protection from discrimination – including, at times, discrimination within the legal system itself – Bryan Stevenson and ERRC assist oppressed minorities in developing the voice and arguments they need to demand equal justice under law. Their work is a model for human rights advocacy and presents a compelling case for the necessity of focusing on and developing public interest law in legal education and practice.'

Rob Kushen, the Managing Director of the ERRC, commenting on the award, said that, 'We are deeply appreciative of this honour and note the connection between the work of Mr Stevenson and our own. The struggle for Roma rights continues to draw inspiration and ideas from leaders of the American civil rights movement like Mr Stevenson.'

The ERRC is an international public interest law organization that combats anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma in Europe. ERRC has set in motion more than 500 court cases in 15 countries to bring to justice state and non-state actors who have discriminated against Romani individuals in education, housing, employment, healthcare and other areas, or have committed violence against them. It has secured over 2 million euros in compensation for Romani individuals for the abuse they suffered and the subsequent failure of their respective governments to ensure justice.

Co-recipient Bryan Stevenson is the Executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which represents indigent defendants, death row inmates, and juveniles who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system. With his staff, Stevenson has largely been responsible for reversals and reduced sentences in more than 75 death penalty cases. He has provided an effective training and consulting resource for counsel representing death row inmates and is spearheading litigation in 19 states to get a fair review of sentencing and parole-eligible re-sentencing. Stevenson has been consistently recognised by the National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America.

The Justice Prize will be awarded in a ceremony this autumn celebrating the achievements of the recipients, who will share a $500,000 award. In addition to the cash award, recipients will receive a medal of honour and a citation, which reads: 

The 2009 Justice Prize of the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation is proudly presented to Bryan Stevenson and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) for advancing human rights and the cause of justice.

The ERRC has been an indefatigable advocate of human rights for Romani victims of discrimination of all forms, persecution and violence in Europe. Through precedential litigation before national and regional courts and innovative policy proposals, the ERRC has ensured substantial justice in the face of often indifferent and complicit governments and public opinion in the 13 years since its formation.

The ERRC is delighted with the recognition of its efforts to better the life of Roma in Europe. This prestigious award will provide fresh enthusiasm and encourage the ERRC yet more to continue its struggle.

Additional materials on the Gruber Prize are available at:

The Gruber International Prize Program  View it (Acrobat pdf format)!
Selection Committee and Laureates  View it (Acrobat pdf format)!
Biography of co-Recipient Bryan Stevenson  View it (Acrobat pdf format)!

For further information, please contact:

Rob Kushen, ERRC Managing Director,
rob.kushen@errc.org +36.1.413.2200

Sinan Gokcen, ERRC Information Officer,
sinan.gokcen@errc.org +36.1.413.2200

Bernetia Akin, The Gruber Foundation,
media@gruberprizes.org + 1 340 775-8035 

 

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