It is with great regret that we announce the loss of one of our patrons, Lord Joffe, who passed away on the 18 June 2017.
Lord Joffe was a Labour peer in the House of Lords and worked as a human rights lawyer between 1958-65. Born in South Africa, Lord Joffe represented Nelson Mandela at the infamous 1963-4 Rivonia trial, an emblematic case in the history of human rights in South Africa. Later he moved to Britain and worked in the financial services industry as well as the voluntary sector. He was associated with Oxfam in various roles between 1982 and 2001, including being its Chair 1995-2001.
Lord Joffe became a patron of PBI UK in 2008 and since then he has been an invaluable supporter.
"As a human rights lawyer in South Africa where in the 1960's I defended courageous political prisoners including Nelson Mandela, I know how lonely and dangerous this can be for the defence lawyers involved. Peace Brigades International UK plays a vital role in protecting and supporting human rights defenders in countries where such defenders are often in far greater danger than we in South Africa ever faced. The presence of PBI's defenders is critical for the lawyers and other human rights defenders involved both for their safety and ensuring that their clients and their client's communities obtain justice. That is why I am proud to be a Patron of Peace Brigades International UK".
As a patron of Peace Brigades International UK, Lord Joffe supported human rights defenders at risk through generous contributions and by way of making political statements to protect the lives and the work of fellow lawyers and other HRDs. He always expressed an interest in meeting with human rights defenders when they visited the UK for example, in 2009 Lord Joffe met with Mexican human rights defender Tita Radilla and learnt first-hand about the forced disappearance of her father in 1973. He also hosted a reception at the House of Lords in support of the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado, Colombia who has seen over 200 of its members killed by the army and paramilitary forces. On the Peace Community, Lord Joffe stated –
“I think what the Community are doing is setting an example which will be followed in the end, the risk they take will inspire people in the future to work towards a freer and more forgiving world where people work together”
We are extremely grateful for Lord Joffe’s generous support and commitment to human rights, he was an example and inspiration to us all in PBI UK. He will be greatly missed and will live on in our hearts. We would like to extend our deepest condolences to his family.