Today the International Commission of Jurists, Victoria announced Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy with the Human Rights Law Centre, as the winner of the 2018 John Gibson Award for his work defending the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum.
The award recognises the critical role the legal profession plays in the protection of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Previous winners include the Honourable Ron Merkel QC, Richard Niall SC, and barristers Nola Karapanagiotidis and W. Guy Gilbert.
Glenn McGowan QC, former President of the International Commission of Jurists, Victoria, who presented the award, said,
“Daniel is a worthy recipient who has demonstrated, over many years, not only his commitment to human rights advocacy but also his effectiveness in making a difference to the public perception of refugees and asylum seekers. Australia is a better place for his efforts.”
Mr Webb currently assists over 400 refugees and asylum seekers that the Australian Government evacuated from offshore detention on Nauru and Manus Island. The group includes women sexually assaulted on Nauru, men shot and attacked on Manus and children who have been so traumatised by offshore detention that they needed urgent psychiatric care.
Mr Webb has also travelled to Manus Island three times, shining a spotlight on the awful conditions inside the offshore camps and amplifying the voices of the men warehoused there for the last 4.5 years.
In accepting the award, Mr Webb paid tribute to the crucial role the legal profession continues to play in defending the basic rights of people seeking safety.
“I am constantly inspired by the determination of lawyers and advocates around the country to call out cruelty and to take a stand for human decency, access to justice and the rule of law. That commitment has never been more important, because when it comes to our treatment of refugees we have completely lost our moral compass as a nation,” said Mr Webb.
More than 2000 people, including more than 150 children, remain in desperate and dangerous conditions on Manus and Nauru in what the UN Refugee Agency has called a ‘humanitarian crisis’ of Australia’s own making.
“Our work will continue until every single man, woman and child on Nauru and Manus finally gets the freedom and the safety that they deserve,” added Mr Webb.
About the John Gibson Award
The John Gibson Award is awarded in honour of the late John Gibson. John was a scholar, barrister and an outstanding and tireless human rights and refugee advocate. He was respected both in Australia and internationally for his knowledge of refugee law, his advocacy for refugees and asylum seekers, and his leadership of Australia’s refugee sector. Each year the award is given to an individual who has advanced and promoted refugee issues in the public domain.
For interviews or further information please call:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519
Photo credit: Matthew Abbott