About the Award

The Sir Henry Brooke Award is awarded annually by the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk CIO, in honour of the life and legacy of Sir Henry Brooke (1936 – 2018), barrister at Fountain Court Chambers, Lord Justice of Appeal and founder of the Alliance. Each year, the Award recognises an outstanding human rights lawyer who exemplifies the qualities most admired by Sir Henry and which he possessed in abundance: selflessness, courage, and a commitment to seeking justice for the oppressed and the marginalised. Any lawyer or human rights defender prevented from carrying out their work independently or whose work puts them at meaningful risk is eligible for nomination regardless of nationality or country of origin. Nominations for the 2024 Award were assessed by an independent Selection Committee comprising Professor Christine Chinkin (Chair), Lord Carnwath, Sir Patrick Elias, Richard Hermer KC and Joshua Rosenberg KC (Hon). The participation of eminent individuals such as these is essential to the existence and ongoing relevance of the Sir Henry Brooke Award and the Alliance places on record its thanks to the Selection Committee members.

The 2024 Award

The winner of the 2024 Sir Henry Brooke Award is the Colombian environmental and human rights lawyer, Mr Adil José Meléndez Marquez. The award ceremony was held in person for the first time since 2019 and took place at the Bishopsgate offices of our co-sponsor, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringeer. The event was attended by over 100 guests including some of the country’s most senior judges as well as representatives from the British and international legal community including NGOs. The Alliance’s President, Dominic Grieve KC, PC, hosted the ceremony and had the privilege of welcoming the Rt Hon. Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE, former President of the UK Supreme Court, as our keynote speaker. Baroness Hale kindly presented the Award to Mr Meléndez following her keynote address. Mr Meléndez’s Award acceptance speech was fully deserving of the lengthy standing ovation it received.

Keynote address given by the Rt Hon. Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE

Award ceremony acceptance speech of Mr Meléndez

The 2024 Award: Mr Meléndez’s work

The Award recognises Mr Meléndez’s extraordinary contribution to the protection and promotion of environmental human rights and the rule of law in Colombia. In 1989, aged just 13, Mr Meléndez and his brother were kidnapped by Colombian criminal gang in an attempt to extort money from their father. The experience of being held captive for 12 days marked what Mr Meléndez himself has described as “a turning point” – a promise to himself to fight for justice. True to his word, Mr Meléndez, now 47 years old, has dedicated his career to the protection and representation of displaced Afro-Colombian peasant and indigenous peoples communities in the Caribbean Region Colombia. Mr Meléndez’s dedication to the marginalised victims of land grabs, illegal displacement, environmental harm and other human rights violations, at constant and serious risk to his own personal security and safety is both inspirational and humbling. It is the Alliance’s honour to present the 2024 Sir Henry Brooke Award to this outstanding human rights lawyer and, indeed, human being.

Mr Meléndez with representatives of the communities for which he acts

The Alliance reiterates its thanks to the co-sponsors of the 2024 Award ceremony, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Fountain Court Chambers – from which Sir Henry practised prior to embarking on his judicial career. This event would not have been possible without their generosity and support and the Alliance is grateful to have them as partners.

Dominic Grieve KC, PC, Mr Meléndez and the Rt Hon. Baroness Hale