The U.S.-based Gruber Foundation's International Justice Prize was awarded to the Kurdish Human Rights Project on Thursday, 6th October 2011. Chief Executive Kerim Yildiz and Managing Director Rachel Bernu attended the award ceremony of the eleventh and final Gruber Justice Prize, which took place in Philadelphia’s National Constitutional Centre. KHRP was among five laureates this year who share a $500,000 award, in recognition of their work in advancing the cause of justice delivered through the legal system.
In particular, KHRP was recognised for its use of a variety legal instruments in protecting human rights and seeking redress for violations, including bringing cases on behalf of hundreds of applicants at the European Court of Human Rights and its on the ground field missions. The prize award notes the importance of KHRP’s consistent presence over the last 19 years as well as the notable reforms and successes on a wide range of issues, from preventing conflict over water in Turkey, Iraq and Syria to receiving a landmark judgment in the European Court toward the abolition of capital punishment.
During his acceptance speech, Kerim Yildiz, KHRP’s Chief Executive described the background to the organization: ‘We established an NGO named the Kurdish Human Rights Project in England with British lawyers and other human rights advocates in partnership with regionally based non-profit organisations and bar associations to give international recognition to not only the Kurds but also to shine a spotlight on the region in order to develop a more nuanced understanding of the injustice that anyone who lived in those regions faced. In short, by addressing the so-called Kurdish problem head-on, justice would be far more achievable for all who lived in those regions… KHRP has grown from an idea based on the basic principle that everyone deserves justice’.
He acknowledged that ‘the recognition from Gruber for our body of work is an important driving force that will help to ensure that as we consider these questions, we do so with great care and with awareness that pushes us to continue to be at the forefront of respect for human rights regionally and internationally’.
The website of the Gruber Foundation’s International Justice Prize can be found here.