February 2012

Relentless Pursuer of Human-Rights Justice in Latin America To Be Awarded Santa Clara University School of Law 2012 Alexander Law Prize

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 9, 2012— An attorney who has spent 15 years pursuing justice for victims of human rights abuses across Latin America, Africa, and the world will be the recipient of this year’s Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize from Santa Clara University School of Law.

The award for top lawyers who have used their legal careers to help alleviate injustice and inequity will be presented to longtime Spanish human-rights lawyer Almudena Bernabeu, at a ceremony the evening of March 14 at the Harrington Learning Commons at Santa Clara University, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Bernabeu is an attorney with the Center for Justice and Accountability, a nonprofit human-rights law firm in San Francisco, where she leads their Latin America and Transitional Justice Programs. She has brought cases against human rights abusers in El Salvador, Colombia, and Peru for atrocities ranging from torture to genocide.  

She is serving as the lead private prosecutor on two high-profile human rights cases before the Spanish National Courts, representing survivors of Guatemalan genocide (including Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum), and against the Salvadoran officials alleged to be behind the massacre of six Jesuit priests and two female employees in 1989. She and her team’s exhausting and exhaustive work to find evidence in the Guatemalan genocide case is featured in the 2011 documentary Granito, How to Nail A Dictator

“Almudena Bernabeu is an outstanding lawyer who has bravely stepped up time and time again to bring justice to victims of atrocities in other nations, ” said Santa Clara Law Dean Donald Polden. “She exemplifies the Alexander Law Prize ideals of devoting one’s legal skills to alleviate suffering, injustice and inequality.  We are extremely proud to make this year's award to her.”

Prior to her work at the Center, she worked with two NGOs affiliated with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, helping with asylum and refugee clients from Latin American, North and Central Africa, and the Balkans. She has also worked pro bono for Amnesty International, Spain, and was an investigator for the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

She was recently elected vice president of the Spanish Association for Human Rights, and serves as a board member of a group pursuing justice in Equatorial Guinea, EGJustice. She’s a member of the advisory board of the Peruvian Institute of Forensic Anthropology.

She received her law degree from the University of Valencia School of Law, and is a Ph.D. candidate in public international law at UNED University in Spain.

Media are invited to attend the awards ceremony from 5 to 7 p.m. on March 14 at the Harrington Learning Commons at Santa Clara University. Interview requests can be made to Deborah Lohse of SCU Media Relations, dlohse@scu.edu or (408) 554-5121. Members of the public can find out more information and register for the event through http://law.scu.edu/alexanderprize/index.cfm.

About the Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize
Katharine and George Alexander have endowed the Law Prize to be awarded annually. The purpose of the prize is to recognize a person from anywhere around the world who has used his or her skill, knowledge, and abilities in the field of law to correct an injustice in a significant manner. The hope of the donors is that the Prize will not only give the public a higher regard for the legal profession but will also be an inspiration within the legal profession and a recognition of the good work of so many in the law.

About Santa Clara University School of Law
Santa Clara University School of Law, founded in 1911 on the site of California’s oldest operating higher-education institution, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. One of the nation’s most diverse law schools, Santa Clara Law offers its 975 students an academically rigorous program, including graduate degrees in international law and intellectual property law; combined J.D./MBA degree; and certificates in intellectual property law, international law, and public interest and social justice law. Santa Clara Law is located in the world-class business center of Silicon Valley, and is distinguished nationally for our top-ranked program in intellectual property. For more information, see law.scu.edu.

Media Contact:
Deborah Lohse | Asst. Media Relations Director | Santa Clara University |
(408) 554-5121 | dlohse@scu.edu

Alexander Prize,law school,Almudena Bernabeu