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2007 Justice Feria

Contact:
Ms. Alyson O'Mahoney
(914) 241-0086 ext. 13
aomahoney@robinleedyassociates.com

Bernetia Akin Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation
340-775-8035
media@gruberprizes.org

 

Online Newsroom: www.gruberprizes.org/news-mediaFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Mónica Feria and Two Other Latin American Champions of Justice to Share $500K Gruber Foundation International Justice Prize

Peruvian Lawyer’s Precedent-Setting Commitment to Justice Prevailed against Oppression, Intimidation and Her Own Detention and Torture by Dictatorial Regime

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Mónica Feria will be available for telephone and onsite interviews June 22-26, 2007, while in Washington, DC for the United Nations-sponsored International Day in Support of Torture Victims and Survivors.  To schedule interviews with Gruber prize recipient, call (914)-241-0086 ext 13, or email aomahoney@robinleedyassociates.com.

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June 14, 2007, New York, NY - The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation today announced that Mónica Feria of Peru will share its 2007 Justice Prize with Justice Carmen Argibay of Argentina and Judge Carlos Cerda of Chile in a ceremony to be held October 10, 2007, at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC, where world justice leaders will gather to celebrate the achievements of the recipients.  The three laureates will share the $500,000 award.

International lawyer Mónica Feria is a pioneering champion in the fight against the impunity of crimes against humanity in the world.  She pleaded the first international case concerning the rights of children in times of war before the highest human rights tribunal in the Americas, where her representations in the Gomez Paquiyauri case helped establish a major precedent protecting children from torture and unlawful killings in times of armed conflict.

In another landmark decision, Castro Castro Prison v Peru, Feria secured $6 million in reparations for victims of human rights abuse in the landmark -- the first case in the Americas where violence against women, including rape, was considered to constitute a crime against humanity. “Torture is not gender free,” argued Feria on behalf of 132 women and herself tortured in Castro Castro. “The gender of a victim is taken into account by the perpetrator to inflict suffering.” The case was the first to be pleaded directly by a victim for crimes against humanity committed by top agents of a country.

Feria’s efforts spring from her imprisonment in 1992 at the age of 24 when she was unlawfully detained and sent to Castro Castro for her role as assistant producer of a US/UK film documenting the internal war and the human rights situation in Peru. She was subjected to physical and psychological torture by state authorities and endured a four-day massacre and armed assault by Peruvian army, navy and elite police force on the high-security facility’s 600 prisoners, ordered by then-President Alberto Fujimori, who had assumed power in a coup d’etat.  Feria was judged by a faceless tribunal, acquitted, and granted liberty in 1993, after which she traveled to the UK and became a public international lawyer. After different

experiences working for international tribunals in the UN, she took the challenge to bring justice to the atrocities she had witnessed and survived herself. .  Working alone and without pay, Feria gathered over 400 pieces of evidence, including witness testimonies, and prepared a 700-page analysis of all the data, documenting in great detail each aspect of the massacre and the torture techniques used by the perpetrators in its aftermath. She further subsumed all the evidence in a 500-page analysis of the law.

Her tireless advocacy in Castro Castro Prison v Peru resulted not only in the acknowledgement of the truth and the individual reparations to victims, it has become the basis for the most serious case to be brought against Fujimori for the commission of crimes against humanity involving systematic torture and extrajudicial executions.

Fujimori awaits extradition to Peru from Chile, as prosecutors have just this week made the appeal.

Next week, Feria travels to Washington, DC for meetings with law- and policymakers to mark the U.N. International Day in Support of Torture Victims and Survivors.  This year’s commemoration coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which provides that: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

A complete biography of Mónica Feria is available at

www.gruberprizes.org/GruberPrizes/Justice_LaureateProfile.php?id=12&awar...

The Gruber Foundation Justice Prize is presented to individuals or organizations 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 toward bringing about a fundamentally just world.

In addition to the cash award, prize recipients receive a medal of honor and citation, which says, “The 2007 Justice Prize of the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation is hereby proudly presented to Carmen Maria Argibay, Carlos José Cerda Fernández and Mónica Feria Tinta who overcame personal experiences of profound injustice to become outspoken champions of justice. Through their enormous personal courage and tenacious commitment to a just rule of law, they challenged the absence of rights in their respective worlds and, in so doing, brought justice to their own countries and inspiration to human rights advocates around the globe.”

“Each prize recipient has shown great resolve in fighting for democratic principles in the face of tyrannical regimes, often at great risk to personal security.  Collectively, they are a model for individual action aimed at achieving human equality and the resistance of tyranny around the world,” said Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, one of the members of the selection panel choosing Gruber International Justice Prize recipients.

“In every age and in every country, heroes appear.  Often they are reluctant heroes who choose to take a principled stand in difficult times.  I’m confident that the efforts of this year’s Justice Prize recipients – three courageous persons working within the justice systems of Latin America – will inspire people from all parts of the world to do the right thing at the right time,” said human rights advocate Martin Lee, Esq., a member of the Gruber Justice selection committee.

Members of the committee that selected the 2007 Justice Prize Recipients:

  • The Honorable Rosalie Silberman Abella, Justice, Supreme Court of Canada
  • Dennis Archer, Esq., Former President, American Bar Association, Former Mayor of Detroit, Former Member of the Supreme Court of Michigan
  • Giuseppe Bisconti, Esq., Chair, International Foundation for the Rule of Law and the Independence of Lawyers and Judges and Dormer President of the International Bar Association
  • The Honorable Arthur Chaskalson, Chief Justice, Constitutional Court of South Africa, retired
  • Martin Lee, Esq., Founding chair of the Democratic Party, Hong Kong, human rights activist
  • The Honorable Sandra Day O'Connor, Justice, Supreme Court of the United States of America, retired
  • Past honorees of the Gruber Foundation Justice Prize include:
  • 2006: Aharon Barak, retired President of the Supreme Court of Israel, renowned for championing an activist judiciary and the rule of law and democracy.
  • 2005: Malaysian attorney Dató Param Cumaraswamy who, at considerable risk to himself, stood up for the independence of the judiciary.
  • 2004: Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson, the first president of South Africa’s Constitutional Court, and Deputy Chief Justice Pius Langa, an advocate and judge who helped establish South Africa’s Constitution as a model for modern democratic societies.
  • 2003: Canadian Supreme Court Justices judges Madame Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella and Madame Justice Bertha Wilson for their contributions to jurisprudence in Canada and beyond. Abella, who served on the Ontario Court of Appeal for 20 years before her appointment to the Supreme Court, is one of Canada’s leading advocate for women’s and human rights; Wilson, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, has forged a reputation as a champion of the underdog and a dedicated proponent of fair play.
  • 2002: Fali Sam Nariman, Member of the Parliament of India, Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and President of the Bar Association of India. Nariman has played an important role in both establishing and enforcing the rule of law in India. He’s played an important role in establishing universal principles of human rights as a standard for India and other emerging democracies.
  • 2001: The Honorable Justice Anthony Roy Gubbay, former Chief Justice of Zimbabwe, and the Law Society of Zimbabwe were the joint recipients of the inaugural Justice Prize in 2001, honored for upholding the independence of the judiciary and protecting the rights of the people of Zimbabwe.

The Gruber international Prize Program honors contemporary individuals in the fields of Cosmology, Genetics, Neuroscience, Justice and Women’s Rights, whose groundbreaking work provides new models that inspire and enable fundamental shifts in knowledge and culture. The Selection Advisory Boards choose individuals whose contributions in their respective fields advance our knowledge, potentially have a profound impact on our lives, and, in the case of the Justice and Women’s Rights Prizes, demonstrate courage and commitment in the face of significant obstacles.

The nomination form and additional information about nomination requirements and selection criteria may be found on the Foundation web site at www.gruberprizes.org/Nominations/Nominations.php

The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation honors and encourages educational excellence, social justice and scientific achievements that better the human condition.  For more information about Foundation guidelines and priorities, please go to: www.gruberprizes.org.

For more information on the Gruber Prizes email media@gruberprizes.org or  contact Bernetia Akin of the Gruber Foundation at 340-775-8035 or by mail 140 W 57th St Suite 10C New York, NY 10019.  Media materials and additional background information on the Gruber Prizes can be found at our online newsroom:  http://www.gruberprizes.org/news-media