NEW YORK, June 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
This year the Gruber Justice Prize honors five recipients who among them have challenged the world's most common forms of intolerance: racial, ethnic, religious, political, economic and gender-based. Hailing from South America, Europe, the Middle East and the United States, the honorees also underscore the sad truth that injustice knows no boundaries - and the more encouraging tenet that the quest for justice is universal.
The sweep of the 2011 award marks a fitting climax for the Justice Prize as the Gruber Foundation prepares to move to Yale University, where the mission of its two human rights prizes will merge and transition in 2012 into the Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women's Rights.
The 2011 award will be presented at a ceremony this fall. The five recipients, who will share equally in the $500,000 unrestricted cash award, are:
Barbara Arnwine - The executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law since 1989, she led the effort to secure passage of what became the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and played a significant role in securing the 2006 Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. Following thousands of complaints of racial intimidation and disenfranchisement in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, Ms. Arnwine became a leader in The Election Protection Program, which by 2008 was one of the largest pro bono programs in the nation. She supported creation of the Disaster Victims' Assistance Project after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and helped prevent the eviction of over 250,000 displaced families from hotels and shelters until alternative housing had been provided.
Morris Dees - Morris Dees was a founder and chief trial counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. Since its founding in 1971 in Montgomery, Alabama, the Center has grown from a staff of three to a staff of 175, including 32 lawyers, and offices in five Southern states. Mr. Dees succeeded in forcing the integration of Alabama State Troopers and in the redistricting of the Alabama legislature, which enabled black voters to participate in the political process more fully. In the late 1970s, in response to an alarming increase in white supremacist activity, Mr. Dees made combating extremism one of his priorities. To discourage young people from coming under the influence of hate groups, Mr. Dees created the Teaching Tolerance project in 1992, providing teachers with tools to help them instill in their students an appreciation of diversity and democratic values.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) - Since its founding in 1972, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel has played a leading role in the struggle to provide human rights for all people living in Israel and the occupied territories. ACRI seeks to protect the rights of Arab citizens who do not enjoy equal access to public services and funding or full participation in the political process. It has opposed racial profiling at airports and protected freedom of expression and the right to privacy and other rights threatened due to national security concerns. ACRI seeks to ensure that the Interior Ministry enforces its policies and practices regarding citizenship and residency in a non-discriminatory manner. The organization's successes in Israeli courts cover many areas, including women's rights and GLBT rights.
Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) - Founded in 1979, during the military dictatorship in Argentina, the Center for Legal and Social Studies was a pioneer in the domestic application of international human rights law. With the return of democracy in 1983, CELS played a leading role in achieving accountability under law for high-ranking military officers who had committed human rights violations, including political executions, detention, torture and 30,000 cases of disappearance. The organization litigated several cases and participated in the trial of the military junta. When presidential pardons and amnesty laws subsequently undid much of what had been accomplished, CELS brought a lawsuit to oppose government measures to block the accountability process. That suit resulted in the trials of 1,700 officials being reopened.
Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) - Founded in 1992, the Kurdish Human Rights Project is a London-based NGO committed to promoting and protecting the human rights of all persons living within Kurdish regions. It has brought cases on behalf of more than 500 applicants and has succeeded in focusing international attention on the plight of Kurds in Southeast Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and, more recently, on human rights violations against Kurds in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Through its work with the UN and in the European Court of Human Rights, KHRP has helped achieve important reforms both in the countries concerned and at the Court itself.
A complete biography/organizational profile for each of the recipients is available at: http://www.gruberprizes.org.
The full release and other media materials are available on our online newsroom at http://www.gruberprizes.org/Press.php. Follow the Gruber Foundation on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GruberPrizes.
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