Juan Méndez of Argentina has received numerous awards and recognitions for his work to promote human rights and end torture. Many people may not know, however, that the Visiting Professor of Law at American University, Washington College of Law and former president of the International Center for Transitional Justice, is himself a survivor of torture.
"Mr. Méndez has dedicated his long legal career to the defence of human rights and has a distinguished record of advocacy. As a result of his work representing political prisoners, he was subjected to torture, while under an eighteen month long administrative detention, by the Argentinean military dictatorship. During this time, Amnesty International adopted him as a “Prisoner of Conscience.” In 1977, he was expelled from Argentina and moved to the United States, where he worked in different capacities, including as legal counsel for Human Rights Watch."
Now, he will serve as the United Nation's resident expert on torture worldwide. In that role, he will conduct investigations, report to the UN's human rights structures, and make recommendations. He also says that he hopes to have an impact "beyond law." In a press release, Mr. Méndez stressed,
“we need to do battle in the realm of ideas and political discourse, to counter an attitude of relativism about torture, as something that happens to ‘others’ whose faces we don’t see and whose names we can’t pronounce.”
Congratulations on this new post -- another milestone an admirable career promoting human rights.
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