Karen Tse

A former public defender and ordained minister, Karen Tse moved to Cambodia in 1994 to train public defenders. "I remember peering through a prison cell and talking with a boy who had been detained and tortured," she recalls. "He was just a boy who had tried to steal a bicycle and he had no one to defend him." At that time, there was little Karen or others could do. Since then, governments throughout Asia, under pressure from human rights activists, have passed laws outlawing torture and providing citizens with basic rights, opening doors to develop criminal justice systems. Karen founded International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) in 2000 to promote local implementation of laws safeguarding citizen rights and to strengthen the critical, often neglected, defender side of the scale. IBJ provides tools and other support to build the skills required for defenders of justice and human rights to perform their jobs professionally, safely, and with the greatest effect on the justice system. It accomplishes this through in-country programs, web based tools and training, and online community building. At the time of the Award, IBJ had negotiated groundbreaking judicial reform measures with the governments of China, Vietnam, and Cambodia, and expanded programming to Rwanda, Burundi, and India.