Lawyer-poet wins Pro Bono Award

Cecil says the award will further motivate him.

MALAYSIAN lawyer, poet and human rights activist Cecil Rajendra has won the International Bar Association (IBA) Pro Bono Award 2019.

He received the award during the IBA Annual Conference in Seoul, South Korea.

Presented by the IBA Pro Bono Committee, the annual award honours lawyers with outstanding commitment to pro bono work throughout their legal career.

According to a press release by IBA, Rajendra was chosen as he is a staunch advocate of human rights and has striven to improve access to justice throughout his career.

He served the Bar Council in various capacities, including as an elected member of the Bar Council, and as chairperson of the Bar Council’s National Legal Aid Committee and the Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee.

Rajendra, 78, also initiated several key campaigns including “Save the Judiciary” as well as the “No Detention Without Trial” movement, which called for the abolition of the Internal Security Act.

In 2000, he launched the country’s first Mobile Legal Aid Clinic with volunteer lawyers going around malls, hypermarkets, schools, night markets and housing estates to meet the public and offer free legal aid.

Rajendra is also the author of 25 books with his poems published in more than 50 countries, including in prestigious publications such as The Guardian, National Geographic and The Wall Street Journal.

He is also a recipient of the Malaysian Bar Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering legal aid work and tireless commitment to human rights.

“I am humbled by the award and this will further motivate me to drive advancements in legal aid, ” said Rajendra.

“It’s meaningless to say that all are equal before the law unless everyone has equal access to justice.

“It is the duty and obligation of every self-respecting lawyer who believes in justice to render legal assistance to those who cannot afford it, ” he said.

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