We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of Sir Nigel Rodley KBE, a Patron of PBI UK and a great supporter.
Sir Nigel was a lawyer and professor at the University of Essex, and an ardent human rights advocate who dedicated his career to combating human rights violations and promoting the rule of law. He worked as a legal adviser to Amnesty International from 1973 onwards, where he established the first human rights law department to promote international legal standards. Sir Nigel also spent eight years as the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture from 1993 to 2001, during which he visited dozens of countries as part of his vision to eradicate torture and degrading treatment worldwide. In 1998, he was knighted for his outstanding services to human rights and international law. Since 2001, Sir Nigel served as a Member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, monitoring UN member states’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
He became a Patron of PBI UK in 2007 after a very moving meeting with our Director Susi Bascon at his office in Essex.
"I first encountered PBI in 1985 when I was on mission for Amnesty International in Guatemala, then under a brutal military dictatorship. The regime continued a long-established military counter-insurgency strategy of widespread murder torture and enforced disappearance, the latter a practice that other regimes in the region had come to emulate. A key NGO which helped us, GAM, was a grouping of courageous mothers dedicated to ensuring that their disappeared children would not be forgotten. The GAM activists were escorted by PBI volunteers. They too were brave. What was especially impressive was the calm, unassuming professionalism with which they carried out their job. Nothing reckless. GAM were the protagonists, not their protectors who stayed in the background. It is thus a great honour to be invited to support the work of PBI by playing the very unchallenging role of being a patron."
Sir Nigel has contributed enormously to our work with his expertise and commitment to supporting Human Rights Defenders (HRDs). In 2009, Sir Nigel chaired panels at a conference on the security and protection of HRDs, which was co-hosted by PBI, and helped to assess existing gaps in the current protection mechanisms for HRDs and develop specific strategies to improve them. Sir Nigel was also a founding member of the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk, a network of UK lawyers set up in 2010 to support threatened lawyers around the world. In 2011, he met with emblematic Mexican Human Rights Defender Tita Radilla and more recently supported the Nepalese human rights lawyer Mandira Sharma in her work on transitional justice in Nepal.
Sir Nigel has made a profound and lasting impact with his commitment to the promotion of human rights and rule of law around the world. PBI UK is extremely grateful for Sir Nigel Rodley’s support to PBI UK and the human rights defenders we protect. He will be greatly missed and we extend our condolences to his family.