Lord Avebury with Santiago Aguirre, of Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre, Susi Bascon and Ben Leather of PBI. (Photo PBI: 2010)It is with great regret that we announce the loss of one of our Patrons, Lord Avebury, who passed away on the 14 February 2016. Lord Avebury was known for his long-lasting career in Parliament and the House of Lords. Lord Avebury was an influential advocate for a wide variety of victims of human rights abuses and has been a key supporter to the work of PBI UK as Patron over the last years.

Lord Avebury, who became a PBI UK patron in 2012, supported PBI for many years as the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights. Notably, in 2008 during a parliamentary debate with MPs regarding threats to the safety of human rights defenders (HRDs) in Colombia he gave a presentation outlining the dangers HRDs were facing and asked the parliament a question in response. Since then, Avebury constantly supported PBI UK; meeting with HRDs who visited the UK from Colombia(1), Mexico(2), Indonesia and Guatemala amongst other. Furthermore, Avebury was one of our most vocal supporters in several of our important campaigns advocating for the protection of human rights defenders including calling for an end to impunity for crimes against HRDs and their arbitrary detention in Mexico and advocating for a better presence of a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala. These interventions and actions were crucial in ensuring the safety of the HRDs PBI accompanies.

Lord Avebury meets with Colombian Lawyer Alirio Uribe in 2009.Lord Avebury, born 29 September 1928, first appeared in politics when he joined the liberal party in 1960, becoming councillor only the year after. During the 1962 elections in Orpington, Lubbock stood candidate and was granted a seat by a staggering majority of the votes. From 1970 onwards he served in the House of Lords, continuing through election even after most hereditary peers were removed.

Colombian HRD German Romero with Lord Avebury at his home in 2008.Lord Avebury left an extensive legacy of human rights advocacy. He was founder and chair of bodies like the Parliamentary Human Rights Group and the Parliamentary Group for East Timor. He furthermore served as trustee of several human rights organizations including the Kurdish Human Rights Project, and the Cameroon Campaign Group, in addition to making important contributions to numerous other organisations.

PBI UK is extremely grateful for Lord Avebury’s generous support and commitment to human rights, he will be greatly missed and we extend our condolences to his family.