Through recourse to litigation, consultation, and other approaches available within the justice and political systems, Bryan Stevenson and the European Roma Rights Centre have courageously helped members of oppressed groups gain access to equal justice.
2009 Justice Prize Recipients
European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is an international public interest law organization that has combated anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma in 27 European countries. Since its founding in 1996 by Hungarian human rights activist and dissident Ferenc Koszeg, ERRC has won or achieved a positive settlement in more than 255 cases and secured over two million euro in compensation for the Romani victims of human rights abuse. Its efforts have resulted in groundbreaking European precedents and heightened awareness concerning discrimination in education, housing, and police conduct, as well as government responsibility to investigate racial motivation in crimes committed by non-state actors. ERRC’s research models have been used to improve education, employment, housing, social services, healthcare, and child protection for Roma, as well as to document violence against Roma communities.
Bryan Stevenson is founder and executive director of Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which represents indigent defendants, death row inmates, and juveniles who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system. A graduate of Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government, Stevenson is a tireless advocate on behalf of minority defendants and prisoners whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct. As staff attorney for the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta and executive director of the Alabama Capital Representation Resource Center, he represented capital defendants. He has helped secure reversals or reductions in more than 75 death penalty cases and provided training and consulting to counsel representing death row inmates. Stevenson has received numerous awards and consistently been recognized as one of America’s 100 most influential lawyers.
The 2009 Justice Prize of The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation is proudly presented to Bryan Stevenson and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) for advancing human rights and the cause of justice.
Bryan Stevenson’s commitment to skillfully defending the marginalized and youth facing capital charges, and to recruiting and training others to do so, is an emphatic rejection and response to policies in Alabama and elsewhere, of prosecuting such defendants without providing them with effective representation. It demonstrates a passionate commitment to justice for all, and has resulted in more than 75 death sentences being overturned.
The ERRC has been an indefatigable advocate of human rights for Romani victims of discrimination of all forms, persecution, and violence in Europe. Through precedential litigation before national and regional courts and innovative policy proposals, the ERRC has ensured substantial justice in the face of often indifferent and complicit governments and public opinion in the 13 years since its formation.