Human rights heroes from various walks of life were rewarded for their achievements at Liberty’s Human Rights Awards last night (22 November).
Inspiring young people, artists and campaigners were honoured along with dedicated lawyers, journalists and politicians at the ceremony at the capital’s Southbank Centre.
The event, which was hosted by the comedian Marcus Brigstocke, was attended by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, Attorney General Dominic Grieve and Baroness Hale, as well as by senior figures from the worlds of law, media and the arts. Sir Patrick Stewart, Dame Vivienne Westwood and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper were amongst those handing out the awards.
The Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke and the Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti presented the Norwegian Ambassador Kim Traavik with a special tribute to the people of Norway in honour of the victims of 22 July 2011 and the dignity and humanity of the country’s response.
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: “We are full of admiration and appreciation for the dedication and commitment to the protection of rights and freedoms shown by all our winners and nominees.
“It’s been an interesting year for human rights and the fight to defend the Human Rights Act, which has never been more vital, is far from over.
“But we’re acutely aware that we’re far from alone in that promotion of human dignity, equal treatment and fairness and Liberty is immensely proud to honour our candidates’ achievements.”
The Liberty Human Rights Awards 2011 winners and category nominees in full were:
Human Rights Young Person of the Year: Cerie Bullivant – "for his inspirational and courageous personal campaign against the unjust control order regime and proposed Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill." The other nominees were Zin Derfoufi, Abigail Stepnitz and Chris Whitehead.
Human Rights Arts Award, in association with the Southbank centre: Penny Woolcock, screenwriter and film director of On the Streets – "for her compassion and commitment to those living and surviving on the margins." The other nominees were the Iceandfire Theatre Company and David R. Dow for Killing Time: One Man’s Race to Stop an Execution.
Human Rights Lawyer of the Year: Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholas Mercer – "for his integrity and courage in the face of dissembling and denial of human rights abuses by British forces in Iraq." The other nominees were Fiona Murphy, of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, and Hugh Southey QC, of Tooks Chambers.
Human Rights 'Close to Home' Award: Janis Sharp – "for her passionate and sustained campaign to protect her son, Gary McKinnon, from facing extradition to the USA." The other nominees were Janet Alder, Davies, Gore & Lomax LLP and Housing Justice.
Independent Voice of the Year: Peter Oborne – "for calling to account the most powerful in our country, especially in relation to the shameful history of complicity in torture during the 'War on Terror'". The other nominees were Joe Plomin, Paul Kenyon & BBC Panorama and Tom Watson MP.
Lifetime Achievement Award: John Hendy QC, from Old Square Chambers – "in recognition of a career dedicated to defending and upholding the rights of workers and trade unionists in this country."
Human Rights 'Long Walk' Award: Private Eye – "for keeping the powerful on their toes and the public informed and entertained" – and Tony Bunyan and Statewatch – "for dedication to openness, democracy and informed debate about European institutions, keeping us reliably informed and suitably engaged for the last 20 years."