JusticeMakers, a competition for innovations that end torture, arbitrary detainment and abuse is being announced by International Bridges to Justice (IBJ). The initiative launches on June 26th, the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.The competition will award $5,000 to the eight best proposals for concrete, achievable action. JusticeMakers is open to anyone with an idea and a familiarity with his or her country’s criminal justice system.

“Much of the time, curbing torture is more a question of resources than it is a question of politics and treaties,” said IBJ Founder and CEO Karen Tse. “I have seen criminal defenders, police, and civil society come together to uphold criminal justice in some of the most challenging legal climates.”

JusticeMakers was inspired by people such as IBJ Fellow and Cambodian lawyer Ouk Vandeth — passionate, creative individuals who deliver due process rights to the accused.

A former policeman turned criminal defender, Ouk is an apt symbol for hope as the world pauses with the United Nations to commemorate those who have fallen victim to the most vile of human rights abuses.

“Ending torture isn’t an unattainable goal,” said Ouk. “It is just about guaranteeing people the legal protections afforded to them by law.”

Tse sees tremendous promise in JusticeMakers’ pragmatic approach. “JusticeMakers will help move international human rights from an era of declaration to an era of implementation,” she said.

Applications will be accepted via http://www.justicemakers.net until August 14, 2008.

IBJ (http://www.ibj.org) is a nonprofit organization founded in 2000 with a vision to end torture in the 21st Century through the just implementation of criminal laws. IBJ’s experience has shown that legal counsel at the earliest stages of defense can reduce instances of torture by as much as 80%. Thus, IBJ works with the legal aid lawyer as the primary leverage point for the legal transformation of its target countries. Since its inception, IBJ has pioneered this practical approach to torture prevention in East Asia. It is now poised to implement human rights and fundamental freedoms in countries worldwide.

Ouk Vandeth is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide. He served as a police official from 1985 to 1994, a period during which it was common practice to obtain confessions from the accused using torture. Ouk subsequently left his police position to study law, and he became one of the first 25 legal aid lawyers in Cambodia. Ouk joined IBJ in 2007 as a Fellow — leading IBJ’s criminal justice transformation efforts in his home country. Learn more about Ouk by visiting IBJ’s Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/internationalbridges.

Sanjeewa Liyanage, Program Director
Phone: +41-22-731-24-41 | Fax: +41-22-731-24-83 | E-mail: sliyanage@ibj.org