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August 05, 2021

In face of danger: Nigerian lawyer honored for ‘courageous’ fight for human rights

Austin Oyinlade, a Nigerian lawyer, human rights advocate and international law expert also known for providing pro bono legal services to those in need in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa, was honored Thursday, Aug. 5 at the 2021 ABA Hybrid Annual Meeting with the 2021 ABA International Human Rights Award.

ABA International Human Rights Award honoree Austin Oyinlade

ABA International Human Rights Award honoree Austin Oyinlade

The award was established to honor an individual or organization that has made an exceptional contribution to the advancement of human rights outside of the United States. One of the association’s top human rights honors, the award is given on behalf of five ABA entities — the Center for Human Rights, the International Law Section, the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, the Litigation Section and the Rule of Law Initiative.

At the virtual presentation, ABA President Patricia Lee Refo saluted Oyinlade for “his tireless work” and how he has “distinguished himself through his courageous stance for human rights and pro bono services for those most in need in Nigeria and across Africa.” She singled out his human rights work in the South Sudan political crisis, the Central African Republic crisis, the Congo Democratic Republic armed conflict and the Libyan peace talks.

In brief remarks, Oyinlade said it was a “great honor” to be the recipient of the ABA award, and all you need is “courage to speak truth to power” and stand up for the oppressed to “keep hope alive.”

“It could only take courage to fight injustice even in the face of danger,” he said, reflecting on his years of work.

In 2008, Oyinlade began hosting a human rights empowerment radio program that educates Nigerians on the scope of their constitutional rights. The radio program simplifies listeners’ understanding of the law and assists to seek justice for human rights abuses. He also is a founder of Constitutional Rights Awareness and Liberty Initiative, an organization that works toward expanding the frontiers of human rights and democracy in Nigeria by educating people about their rights and responsibilities and by providing legal assistance.

In 2016, Oyinlade unveiled “Know Your Rights Nigeria,” the first-ever human rights empowerment app, which simplifies human rights and constitutional safeguards in several languages, including English, Pidgin and other major regional languages. Users have the option to chat with Oyinlade and a team of 50 lawyers for free legal support on human rights issues and to report human rights abuses.