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  • Awarded: 2006
  • Issue Areas: Human Rights · International Justice · Peace and Human Rights
  • Countries Served: USA · Burundi · Cambodia · China · Rwanda · Switzerland · Vietnam · Zimbabwe
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    About the Organization

    Every day throughout the world, people are arbitrarily detained, tortured, and denied access to counsel and basic due process rights – causing untold human suffering, perpetuating patterns of violence and impunity, and sapping vast economic potential.

    International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) is dedicated to protecting the basic legal rights of ordinary citizens in developing countries. Specifically, IBJ works to guarantee all citizens the right to competent legal representation, the right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment, and the right to a fair trial.

    IBJ envisions a world where the basic legal rights of every man, woman, and child are respected in case of an arrest or judicial accusation.

    IBJ’s goals are to provide direct technical support and training to emerging legal aid organizations; to build international communities of conscience in support of these organizations; and to advocate and support the prioritization of just and effective criminal justice systems on the agenda of organizations involved with international human rights and legal development.

    Each day, hundreds of thousands of citizens around the world are arbitrarily detained, tortured, and denied access to counsel and a fair trial.

    IBJ enables local implementation of laws safeguarding citizens and trains and supports defenders of justice and human rights.

    IBJ seeks to end the use of torture and make it possible for defenders to do their jobs professionally, safely, and effectively.

    National programs in seven countries train defense lawyers, promote fairer justice systems, and educate the public about their legal rights.

    Ambition for Change

    An end to the use of torture as an investigative tool.

    Path to Scale

    Build a Movement; Reform an Existing System

    IBJ combines intense focus and custom training systems in strategically selected countries with more broadly available tools and resources shared and applied through a global network.

    A former public defender and ordained minister, Karen Tse moved to Cambodia in 1994 to train public defenders. “I remember peering through a prison cell and talking with a boy who had been detained and tortured,” she recalls. “He was just a boy who had tried to steal a bicycle and he had no one to defend him.” At that time, there was little Karen or others could do. Since then, governments throughout Asia, under pressure from human rights activists, have passed laws outlawing torture and providing citizens with basic rights, opening doors to develop criminal justice systems. Karen founded International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) in 2000 to promote local implementation of laws safeguarding citizen rights and to strengthen the critical, often neglected, defender side of the scale. IBJ provides tools and other support to build the skills required for defenders of justice and human rights to perform their jobs professionally, safely, and with the greatest effect on the justice system. It accomplishes this through in-country programs, web based tools and training, and online community building. At the time of the Award, IBJ had negotiated groundbreaking judicial reform measures with the governments of China, Vietnam, and Cambodia, and expanded programming to Rwanda, Burundi, and India.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • IBJ has in-depth programs in Burundi, Cambodia, China, India, Rwanda, Singapore and Zimbabwe, in which it trains defense lawyers, persuades justice sector officials to create fairer criminal justice systems, and educates the public about their legal rights.
    • IBJ’s JusticeMakers program has provided funding for projects in 25 countries and built a global platform now used by more than 6,000 lawyers and human rights defenders.
    • IBJ has advanced the legal skills of thousands of lawyers, including some 400,000 who have used its Criminal Defense Wiki, which brings together the legal and professional experience of criminal defense practitioners, law students, professors, and other professionals in an online information resource on different types of criminal justice systems and topics common to defenders throughout the world.
    • IBJ has educated millions of people to demand their legal rights.


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