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2007 Justice Prize

Mónica Feria

Mónica Feria Tinta is a practicing public international lawyer. Born in 1966 in Lima, she graduated from the law faculty of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in 1991. She holds a Master of Laws with merit from the London School of Economics and received further training in international law at the Institut International des droits de l'Homme in Strasbourg (1998) and at the Institute of Human Rights of the Abo Academy in Turko (Finland) under the sponsorship of the European Commission and the Finish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001.

In 2000, she was awarded the Diploma of the Hague Academy of International Law, becoming the first Peruvian lawyer ever to be awarded this distinction in over 50 years of existence of the Academy.

She has been the recipient of many academic awards including the Olive Stone memorial Scholarship, the Sydney Perry Foundation award, the London School of Economics and Political Science Post-graduate award and the British Federation of Women Graduates award. She has held academic positions at the Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge. LSE, and at the Post-War Reconstruction Unit, University of York.

As legal counsel, she has worked on issues pertaining to State responsibility for genocide and a commander's responsibility for massacre. More recently she represented the Brothers Gómez Paquiyauri case on behalf of the victims before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2002-2004), securing a nearly 1 million dollar award for the victims and full recognition of international responsibility of the State of Peru for arbitrary detention, torture, and killings of two minors in Peru back in 1991. This was the first international case concerning protection of children in times of war where an international human rights tribunal pronounced itself on the duties of the State toward children in the context of war. The litigation was entirely run by Mónica, without pay, and having to find ways to cover the litigation costs for over three years.

Mónica has published widely in international law journals in areas including international criminal law, international human rights law, use of force, and the international protection of refugees.

In 1992 she formed part of an international television crew as an Assistant Producer, preparing a documentary for Channel 4 (British Television) and WGBH (Public Television of Boston) about the internal armed conflict taking place in Peru at the time. In the midst of a self imposed coup d'etat by Alberto Fujimori, Mónica was unlawfully detained and then taken to the high security prison of Miguel Castro Castro, where she survived a massacre launched by orders of Alberto Fujimori. In 1993 she was judged and acquitted by a faceless tribunal (judges sitting behind mirrors). She then travelled to the United Kingdom where she was granted Refugee Status in accordance with the UN Refugee Convention. .

Mónica Feria has represented the Castro Castro Prison case v Peru concerning the massacre she herself survived since 1997. Her persistent work over nine years made that case internationally recognised as involving crimes against humanity. For almost 10 years she worked alone and without pay, preparing representations and collecting unprecedented data on the case.

On November 25, 2006, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights unanimously held that Peru had was responsible for victimizing hundreds of individuals under detention and their relatives. The Castro Castro prison case is a landmark that opened the way for other women to gain full protection of their rights, based on gender and the particular violations of human rights that women in the region may suffer. It was also the first international human rights case in the American region where violence against women, including rape, was considered to constitute a crime against humanity.

This was the first time that a victim had sought justice to a case and pleaded directly a case of crimes against humanity involving thousands of people and directed against the top State agents in a country, before the Inter-American Court, the highest tribunal in the Americas.

The case had a major impact on the responsibility of former heads of state and is a major precedent against impunity. It involves the responsibility of Alberto Fujimori for planning and ordering the atrocities. This case has become the most important case thus far against the former head of state for the commission of crimes against humanity involving systematic torture and extrajudicial executions. Mónica continues representing around 800 victims in the case. She is working to secure implementation of the Court's decision, including Fujimori's prosecution.

Mónica Feria is a member of the American Society of International Law. On December 8, 2006, she was awarded the Inge Genefke Award for her contribution to the fight against torture in the world.