Highlights from the 2012 HIV/AIDS JusticeMakers Competition:Gatavu Audace

Highlights from the 2012 HIV/AIDS JusticeMakers Competition:Gatavu Audace

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Gatavu Audace is a human rights defense attorney in Bujumbura, Burundi, who has witnessed the plight of people living with HIV/AIDS in Burundi’s criminal justice system. These experiences moved Audace to use his legal skills and connections within the legal community to create a network of pro bono defense attorneys to provide legal counsel to the most vulnerable within the criminal justice system who are without any legal defense. Audace’s courage to devote his professional life to defending those most marginalized was awarded by International Bridges to Justice with the JusticeMakers Fellowship in 2012. Now two years later, he continues to raise the voices of the hopeless with renewed persistence.

Gatavu Audace

2012 HIV/AIDS JusticeMakers Fellow, Burundi

September 5, 2014

Gatavu-picture-150x150

What made you apply for IBJ’s JusticeMakers Competition?

When I applied for IBJ’s JusticeMaker Competition, I was working with people living with HIV/AIDS and I was shocked by the way they were threatened in prisons. They were {not} considered as normal prisoners because of their incurable disease. I applied therefore to save some from prison as soon as possible.

What were some of the initial challenges you faced in implementing your work?

I faced the challenge of talking to judges that do not {give} consideration to the particular situation of prisoners with HIV/AIDS. There was a serious problem of undue delay of procedures and these people were hopeless! Some of them refused to take their medication and died in prison just because they considered their life already lost!

What were you able to achieve with your grant of $5,000?

I stood beside hopeless people and raised my voice for their cases. I encouraged some of them not to give up despite the hardships they were experiencing. With the $5000, the prison officials and prisoners and the community knew that these people have value and are worthy. In representing them before the court, I gave them the consideration they longed for since they knew they was HIV positive.

What have you gained from joining the international community of JusticeMakers Fellows?

I am always learning from other Fellows. I now belong to a community of service providers to which I am conscientious of the quality of their work.

As a recipient of IBJ’s JusticeMakers Competition, what advice would you give to those looking to apply?

IBJ’s JusticeMakers Competition is an opportunity that is given to YOU to serve YOUR community. Don’t miss it! Try! You’ll never know if you do not try!

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