The 2005 Justice Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation has been awarded to a distinguished Malaysian lawyer: Param Cumaraswamy.
He was a commissioner at the International Commission of Jurists since 1990 and one of its Vice-president from 2004 to 2005.
The award ceremony will be on September 19, 2005 at Columbia University Law School in New York City.
Born in 1941, Cumaraswamy received his early education in Kuala Lumpur and his law training in London. He began his practice in 1967 and, until his resignation, spent much of it with one of the largest and most prestigious law firms in Malaysia.
He served in various leadership positions on the Bar Council of Malaysia from 1974 to 1998 and was a founding member of the Malaysian Bar Council Human Rights Committee and Legal Aid Committee. From 1986 to 1989 he was chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the International Bar Association.
In 1994 the UN Commission on Human Rights appointed him the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers. He has undertaken missions to Colombia, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and many other countries, to report to the Commission on Human Rights. For his UN role protecting the independence of judges and lawyers, he has intervened in cases of reported violations in more than 100 countries.
He has traveled the globe as a guest speaker on human rights and judicial independence. And he maintains a one-man legal practice, devoted in large part to the pursuit of a just rule of law.
The Peter Gruber Foundation was founded in 1993 and established a record of charitable giving principally in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where it is located. In recent years the Foundation has expanded its focus to a series of international awards recognizing discoveries and achievements that produce fundamental shifts in human knowledge and culture. Further information about the Peter Gruber Foundation and its awards is available from www.petergruberfoundation.org.
Previous winners of the Justice Prize are: retired Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson (current president of the International Commission of Jurists) and current Chief Justice Pius Langa of the Constitutional Court of South Africa (2004); Justice Bertha Wilson, retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada (2003); Fali Sam Nariman, President of the Bar Association of India (2002); and Sir Anthony Roy Gubbay, former Chief Justice of Zimbabwe, and the Law Society of Zimbabwe (2001).