Hassan Bility Wins US Human Rights Award
By Gardea Varney Woodson |
Hassan Bility, Director of Liberia’s Global Justice and Research Project, is the 2018 recipient of the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA)’s Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award.
Hassan, a one-time Editor of the Analyst newspaper during Liberia’s civil war, received the award at the CJA’s 20th Anniversary Gala on Thursday, March 8, 2018 at San Francisco’s Julia Morgan Ballroom.
He was honored for his courage and heroic pursuit of justice in Liberia.
The Liberian human rights activist, began his career as editor-in-chief of Liberia’s Analyst Newspaper during the Charles Taylor regime.
As a result of his fearless reporting on the atrocities occurring at the time, Bility was arrested in 2002 and held for six months during which time he was savagely tortured upon Taylor’s direct orders.
Hassan founded the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) in 2012 to document war-related crimes committed during Liberia’s 14 year armed conflict.
Working in close collaboration with Geneva-based rights group Civitas Maxima, GJRP assists Liberian victims in their pursuit of justice by documenting war related crimes aimed at holding perpetrators responsible for their actions.
GJRP’s work has led to the arrest of alleged Liberian war criminals throughout Europe and the U.S. including former Liberian rebel commanders Alieu Kosiah in Switzerland and Martina Johnson in Belgium.
GJRP is also credited with efforts leading to the arrest in the UK of Agnes Reeves Taylor, the ex-wife of former Liberian President, Charles Taylor and the conviction of former ULIMO rebel commander Mohammed Jabbateh.
Hassan recently filed a case against Moses Thomas, the alleged commander of the Lutheran Church Massacre, in the U.S.
“Hassan is a key figure in the movement to obtain justice and accountability for war crimes in Liberia,” a senior CJA Attorney Nushin Sarkarati, said at the ceremony.
“First as a journalist, and now as the director of GRJP, Hassan has dedicated his life to supporting survivors in their quest to hold perpetrators accountable for wartime violence in Liberia. Much of the work happening today on accountability for Liberian civil war violence is only possible because of GJRP and Hassan. He truly represents what this award stands for, and it is our honor to celebrate his passionand commitment to global justice during our 20th anniversary,” Sarkarati said.
Accepting the award, Hassan said: “I am extremely honored to receive the Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award on behalf of those Liberians who lost their lives, or lost families and loved ones, during the armed conflict.”
“The struggle to end impunity for war crimes in Liberia is gaining omentum. Liberians know that our country will only be able to thrive once there is an end to impunity, and a renewed trust in government. While nothing can make up for what we experienced in the past, obtaining justice can help brighten our future. I dedicate this award to the courage of the survivors, without whom none of this would be possible,” the Liberian rights activist noted.
The Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award was established in 2007 to honor individuals or organizations that has made outstanding contribution to the movement for global justice. It was established in honor of Judith Lee Stronach a committed human rights activist who was instrumental in the founding of the CJA.
The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) is a San Francisco-based human rights organization dedicated to deterring torture and other severe human rights abuses around the world and advancing the rights of survivors to seek truth, justice and redress.
CJA uses litigation to hold perpetrators individually accountable for human rights abuses, develop human rights law, and advance the rule of law in countries.
The Global Justice and Research Project Established in 2012, the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) is a Liberia-based non-profit, non-governmental organization that documents war related crimes in Liberia and, where possible, seeks justice for victims of said crimes, with the full consent of the victims.