Ron Merkel QC has been announced as the winner of the prestigious 2011 Human Rights Medal at the Australian Human Rights Commission’s annual Human Rights Awards in Sydney. Meanwhile, a legal team comprising Allens Arthur Robinson, the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, Debbie Mortimer SC and Richard Niall SC were awarded the Human Rights Law Award for their outstanding legal advocacy for refugees and asylum seekers.
Commission President Catherine Branson QC congratulated Ron and all winners for their extraordinary efforts in protecting and promoting human rights in Australia.
“All winners and indeed all finalists should be treasured by all of us for the often selfless way in which they try to make Australia an even fairer and more equal society than it already is,” Ms Branson said.
“For 40 years, Ron Merkel has devoted himself to access to justice for people who are marginalised and disadvantaged. He has had a long and outstanding commitment to the promotion and advancement of human rights as a legal practitioner.
“Ron Merkel takes on cases that many others would avoid and his advocacy spreads far and wide including defending the rights of prisoners to vote in elections and protecting the rights of Indigenous Australians not to be racially discriminated against,” Ms Branson said.
The Medals were announced at a sold-out event in Sydney in celebration of International Human Rights Day. More than 200 entries were received for this year’s Awards with 40 finalists selected in 10 categories.
Source: Australian Human Rights Commission