In 2011, I was presented with the honor of receiving the Central European University’s (CEU) 20th Anniversary Alumni Hero Award. At that time, our organization, BABSEACLE, established a new award program at CEU for Legal Masters Human Rights Program graduates, to be given in BABSEACLE’s name.
This year, for the fifth time, the BABSEACLE Award was once again presented to a Legal Studies student who both excelled academically and demonstrated a past and future devotion to upholding access to justice and human rights principles. This year the award was given to Shorena Latatia, from Tbilisi, Georgia who graduated with an LL.M. in Human Rights from CEU. The award was based upon her work on the advancementof human rights and access to justice through journalism and media strategies, and her experience as a public interest related lawyer. It was also based upon the way she excelled while enrolled in CEU.
Upon being provided the award Latetia wrote BABSEACLE the following thank you letter, which we are proud to include below.
By Bruce A. Lasky Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative (BABSEACLE) Co-Founder/Director
Dear Mr. Lasky,
I am sincerely grateful to you, the Bridges across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative (BABSEACLE) and to the Central European University (CEU), for honoring my work with the Outstanding Human Rights Student Award. I am truly humbled by this acknowledgment. Although this award has been bestowed on me, I see myself as only one among countless female human rights defenders around the globe who face particular risks of imprisonment, harassment, torture, or even death, while challenging discrimination, patriarchy and entrenched privileges.
Growing up in fragmented, patriarchal Georgia nourished my passion for advocating women’s and minority rights. Before joining CEU, I worked in various capacities with a number of local and international non-governmental organizations in Georgia, including the office of the Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), Human Rights House Tbilisi (HRHT), and Human Rights Center (HRIDC). As a strategic litigation lawyer I documented grave human rights violations committed during the Russo-Georgia conflict of 2008. Visiting the conflict-affected areas, interviewing over 200 victims/witnesses of war and seeing how they were responding to new challenges, inspired me to help them tell their stories through the media. My experience in freelance journalism, among other things, taught me the importance of providing an accurate picture of human rights violations.Working as a project manager enabled me to develop various human rights advocacy campaigns, which tackled a wide range of issues, from defending freedom of speech to the defense of the right to education and the right to a healthy environment.
This award is the result of the support I have received in various forms throughout my journey. I wish to acknowledge some of the help along the way thus far.
The opportunity to be part of the LL.M. Human Rights Program complemented my five years’ work in the human rights field in Georgia, for which I remain sincerely grateful to the CEU Department of Legal Studies. I owe my deepest gratitude to my teachers at the CEU, whose guidance and support enabled me to develop an understanding of human rights. In a very special way, I hold the entire human rights class (2014/15) in high regard and wish much success in their future careers. Through our joint efforts, I believe, human rights protection will grow stronger in the future and not cease to exist. Last but not least, I would like to thank my dear friends Pascal and Eka, whose unconditional and endless support has driven me forward.
As a human rights defender, this award strengthens my sense of belonging and my professional identity. Your recognition motivates me to continue my efforts in combating injustices and fighting for the rights of the marginalized. Upon completion of my studies I plan to return to the non-governmental sector and do my best to honor your confidence in awarding me.
Once again, I thank you for finding my work worthy of the Outstanding Human Rights Student Award. I dedicate it to all those who fight for the human rights of us all.
Thank you so much for your support.