Juan E. Méndez

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Juan Méndez speaking at Chatham House in 2012

Juan E. Mendez (born December 11, 1944, Argentina) is a lawyer and human rights activist known for his work on behalf of political prisoners.

Biography[edit]

In 1970, he received his law degree from Stella Maris University in Mar del Plata, Argentina.[1]

Early in his career, he became involved in representing political prisoners. As a result, he was arrested by the Argentinean military dictatorship and subjected to torture and administrative detention for 18 months. During this period, Amnesty International adopted him as a “Prisoner of Conscience,” and in 1977, he was expelled from the country and moved to the United States.[2]

Subsequently, Mendez worked for the Catholic Church in Aurora, Illinois, protecting the rights of migrant workers. In 1978 he joined the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under the Law in Washington, D.C., and in 1982, he launched Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Americas Program. He continued to work at HRW for 15 years, becoming their general counsel in 1994.[3] He is also a visiting scholar at American University Washington College of Law's Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.

From 1996 to 1999, Mendez served as the Executive Director of the Inter-American Institute of Costa Rica. He then worked as a Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame from October 1999 to 2004.[4]

In 2001, Mendez began working for the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), an international human rights NGO. He served as its president from 2004 to 2009, and currently is its President Emeritus. He is also currently the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Mendez has taught human rights law at Georgetown Law School, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and the University of Oxford Masters Program in International Human Rights Law in the UK.

He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Goler T. Butcher Medal from the American Society of International Law; a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Université du Québec à Montréal (University of Quebec in Montreal); the “Monsignor Oscar A. Romero Award for Leadership in Service to Human Rights” by the University of Dayton; the “Jeanne and Joseph Sullivan Award” of the Heartland Alliance.;[5] and the Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina (National University of La Plata), June 10, 2013 [6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Juan E. Mendez", Source Watch
  2. ^ "Washington College of Law Faculty", American University
  3. ^ "Juan E. Mendez", Source Watch
  4. ^ "Faculty Bio", Washington College of Law
  5. ^ "Washington College of Law Faculty", American University
  6. ^ "Instituto de Derechos Humanos - UNLP", Instituto de Derechos Humanos - UNLP

External links[edit]