Tanya Murshed was picked as the winner from eleven nominees for the 2017 Sydney Elland Goldsmith Bar Pro Bono Award, having been selected by an expert panel. Lord Goldsmith QC, the Bar Pro Bono Unit Founder and President, and Chair of the Award judging panel, said:
“Tanya has shown outstanding commitment to a specific issue within a specific region, and has used her legal skills and networks to tackle the challenges within the Ugandan criminal justice system head-on. This is an excellent model for pro bono, and one that deserves recognition in as many ways as possible. The statistics used in support of her application – supporting approximately 500 people facing the death penalty; and training 90 members of the legal profession on sentencing and mitigation – are exceptional.”
In presenting the award, Chairman of the Bar Council Andrew Langdon QC stated:
“She has done outstanding work in Uganda in relation to her direct involvement with hundreds of individuals facing the death penalty…Tanya Murshed of 1MCB took a sabbatical from chambers for a significant amount of time to train others and to lead a team from Evolve, which she set up, to advance mitigation on behalf of those previously subject to the death penalty. Since then 243 who faced the death penalty have received other sentences…It is a stunning example of working for nothing to help those in desperate need and motivating others to do likewise.”
Tanya’s nomination by head of 1MCB Chambers, John Benson QC was supported by other members of the bar in the UK; Lord Alton of Liverpool (Patron of Evolve and Vice Chairman of the All Party Group on Uganda) and current and former prisoners in Uganda. She has been described as having ‘unwavering commitment’, and a ‘highly creative approach’ to her work. Declan O’Callaghan of Landmark Chambers wrote:
“It is a heartfelt observation that Tanya’s hard work and commitment has been of immense importance at all steps of the sentencing process…In essence, and this is no blustery overstatement said with flippancy – a considerable number of people owe their lives to Tanya’s capacity for hard work and her ability to persuade a number of professionals to give up their time and commitment to helping death row prisoners in Uganda. Her work is the true essence of ‘pro bono’.”
A special commendation has also been awarded this year to Kirsty Brimelow QC, Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee, in recognition of her outstanding long-term contribution to human rights issues around the world.