SINGAPORE: M. Ravi, a renowned human rights lawyer, has received international recognition for his tireless efforts to champion the rights of the underprivileged.
This acknowledgement came during the 2023 International Bar Association Conference held in Paris from 29 October to 3 November.
The International Bar Association (IBA), a prominent global organization for legal practitioners, presented Mr. Ravi with the prestigious 2023 IBA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Rights, in recognition of his exceptional work in advocating for the underprivileged.
Referred to as Singapore’s pioneer in ’cause’ lawyering, 54-year-old Ravi’s remarkable contributions extend beyond national borders.
Mr Ravi has been a lawyer for 20 years, advocating for those on death row.
Melinda Taylor, co-chair of the IBA Human Rights Committee, commended his significant impact on the field of human rights, particularly in advancing LGBTQI rights.
Ms Taylor said Mr Ravi has actively engaged in constitutional challenges against laws that penalize same-sex relations and has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQI equality within workplaces.
To update a well-known quote, “No person is an island”, Ms Taylor said.
“Victims need bridges and connections to courageous lawyers and advocates such as M Ravi who has raised his voice to fight for their rights in an environment where he risks being silenced and has in fact been silenced for doing so.”
“Lawyers like M Ravi also need bar associations such as the IBA, not only to recognize and award their prowess, but also to speak out to support them to achieve protection under the rule of law.”
IBA recognized M. Ravi as a prominent human rights defender and also acknowledged him as a colleague.
In light of recent events, the IBA highlighted that M. Ravi has been facing various forms of retaliatory measures due to his commitment to upholding what is just and right.
Ravi had been given a five-year suspension earlier this year due to accusations of professional misconduct.
“So apart from giving him this prize, I hope everyone here uses their voices and their influence to ensure he can continue to fight the good fight, ” said Melinda Taylor in a video when presenting the award to Mr Ravi.
In a video message, Mr Ravi expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the International Bar Association (IBA) for honouring him with the award, despite his inability to attend the event in Paris.
Mr Ravi, in a humble manner, shared that he had questioned whether he truly deserved such recognition, especially considering the countless colleagues across Asia with whom he is more familiar.
He acknowledged their significant sacrifices in the relentless pursuit of human rights in their daily endeavours.
He further expressed his desire to dedicate the award to his late mother.
“During our humble beginning, have fostered in me something very important that the education that I received must benefit humanity, otherwise that education is useless. That has stuck to me very much up to this day in furtherance of my work.”
Moreover, Mr. Ravi extended his dedication to the many human rights activists in Singapore who have collaborated with him, particularly those engaged in areas such as anti-death penalty advocacy, LGBTQ rights, and workers’ rights.
“I extend my humble salutations to them through this award.”
Mr Ravi acknowledged that the award arrived during a period when he is facing significant challenges in his work back in Singapore.
“Of course, my challenges pale in comparison with those that my colleagues across Asia and across the globe go through that I have mentioned before.”
In his concluding remarks, Mr Ravi emphasized the importance of utilizing love and compassion as driving forces in the fight against inhumanity.
“Love and compassion must deploy every tool to fight against inhumanity and law is one such tool, “ said Mr Ravi.
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