The International Human Rights Clinic has been awarded the Gertz Award from the Illinois State Bar Association’s Human Rights Section Council.
The award recognizes and honors often-unsung heroes of the legal community who have shown a continued commitment to preserve and advance human rights.
“This is a great honor for us. We are so incredibly passionate about our human rights work and are humbled by this award,” said Sarah Dávila-Ruhaak, Director of the International Human Rights Clinic.
John Marshall’s International Human Rights Clinic promotes human rights domestically and internationally by providing direct legal representation and advocacy.
In January 2016, the IHRC launched its Human Rights For Syrians Initiative, which seeks to narrow the gap of access to justice by providing direct legal services and providing a robust referral service system to Syrian refugees and asylum seekers. Intakes are conducted and services are provided to Syrians all over the United States and around the world.
Other notable projects include:
- An ongoing collaboration with the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti to promote awareness and advocate for accountability in the country’s ongoing cholera epidemic and also filed an amici curiae brief in support of plaintiffs in litigation seeking to hold the United Nations responsible.
- The filing of amicus briefs in support of specific human rights cases including that of Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan teenager who was held at Guantanamo Bay for six years and also in support of the family of Ahemend Salem Bin Ali Jaber and other Yemeni citizens killed in a drone strike.
- The filing of amicus briefs in support of vulnerable persons in human rights cases at the Inter-American System on Human Rights in the Americas, which includes the forced disappearances of peasant communities in Perú.
- The submission of numerous shadow reports to United Nations bodies and experts, including the issue of solitary confinement and immigrant detention conditions.
- An investigation into the practices of the government of Puerto Rico, HUD and other government agencies in the United States which have allowed the human trafficking of homeless Puerto Rican persons with addiction issues.
- The advocacy on the rights of older persons at the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group on Aging, and the promotion of the Chicago Declaration on the Rights of Older Persons.
This marks the third time since the award was established in 2000 that a member of the John Marshall Law School community has received it. In 2002, Associate Dean and Professor Emeritus Ralph Ruebner was recognized for his work including human rights work in the former Soviet Union. In 2006, Professor Michael Seng was recognized for his work including the Fair Housing Legal Support Center.