Human rights | 02.02.2015

A Belgian Lawyer, Recipient of the 1er Prize in Human Rights Competition at the Memorial de Caen

The finals of the 26th International Human Rights Competition for Lawyers took place on Sunday, February 1, 2015, at the Mémorial de Caen, in France.

Before an audience of 2500 people, the 10 lawyers who were the finalists defended real human rights violation cases with great talent.

The jury, chaired this year by Rémy Ourdan, a Le Monde reporter and Chairman of the Warm Foundation, granted the 1st Prize to Mr. François Dessy, a lawyer at the Huy and Liège Bar, Belgium.

His speech for the defence, entitled, “Enfer mental et damnation carcérale : pour un sursaut d'humanité à l'ombre de nos societés” (Mental hell and damnation in prison: To advance humanity in the shadows of our societies), broached the case of Frank Van Den Bleeken, a repeat sexual offender whose request for internment in a specialised centre was refused by Belgium while it granted him euthanasia.

In the words of Mr. Dessy, “I followed the case of Frank Van Den Bleeken, which shook up Belgium in October, albeit too briefly, before being rapidly submerged, diluted, bogged down, swallowed up and stifled by later, breaking news…. Marshall Ney used to say: Can one stop the waves of the sea with one’s hands? I would never have taken up the pen two weeks before the date for submitting the speeches for the defence for the competition if I had not been so shattered by this man, deprived of his freedom – however criminal and odious his past actions. What is even more horrific was that he was responsible for a series of rapes and one murder, and had spent 30 years drifting from one prison to the other. Marginalised by society, he was devastated by permanent mental disorders to the extent that he could no longer bear it.

The 2nd Prize – the Bar Prize, as well as the Public Prize were granted to the French lawyer, Julien Martin, from the Strasbourg Bar, for his speech entitled, “D’Homo Sapiens à Homophobe : la malédiction du Cameroun” (From Homo Sapiens to Homophobes – The Curse of Cameroon).

The UIA, represented by Mr. Maxime Delhomme, Co-Director of the Rule of Law Project, was present at the event. As it has done for several years now, UIA awarded the winner his participation at the Valencia Congress, the publishing of his speech in the magazine, Juriste International, as well as free membership for one year.

The 9 other finalists shall also receive one year’s free membership and a waiver of the registration fee for a seminar of their choice.