Lawyer and civil rights activist Hina Jilani has been named the winner of the 2020 Stockholm Human Rights Award.
The prize is awarded annually by the Swedish Bar Association, the International Bar Association (IBA) and the International Legal Assistance Consortium.
Ms Jilani grew up in Pakistan. Her father was a politician and an outspoken critic of the country’s military dictatorship, who spent much of her childhood in prison. Injustices and human rights abuses witnessed first-hand sparked a lifelong commitment to challenging social norms and promoting human rights and democracy in Pakistan, and around the world, in Ms Jilani. She said, "I always had this feeling that if you see injustice, you have to speak out against it; otherwise you are not in a position to complain."
Among her many achievements, in 1980 she founded Pakistan’s first all-female law firm, providing legal aid to women, and established the Women’s Action Forum, a campaign group that advocated for women’s rights and challenged discriminatory laws; in 1986 she set up Pakistan’s first Legal Aid Centre, and became a founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; in 1990, she co-founded Dastak, a shelter providing free legal counsel and support to women fleeing gender-based violence, work which often makes her vulnerable to hostile propaganda, arrests, abuse and intimidation.
In 2000 Ms Jilani was appointed as the first Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders; and in 2013, she joined The Elders, a group of independent global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela, whose vision is to work together for peace, justice and human rights, to promote ethical governance, to resolve conflict and address its root causes and to challenge injustice. She also currently serves as President of the World Organisation against Torture, co-chair of the World Refugee Council and co-chair of the International Task Force on Justice
IBA President Horacio Bernardes Neto said: "Her ceaseless endeavours have made both Pakistan and the wider world a better, safer and more just place."
The award will be presented to Ms Jilani in Stockholm on Monday 30 November 2020.