Home Legal News Prakash Diar named recipient of Law Society of Ontario’s 2023 Human Rights Award

Prakash Diar named recipient of Law Society of Ontario’s 2023 Human Rights Award

by HR Law Canada

The Law Society of Ontario has announced the recipient of its prestigious 2023 Human Rights Award: Prakash Diar, a courageous advocate for human rights whose legal career has been marked by both inspiring triumphs and harrowing challenges.

Diar’s work began in his native South Africa, where he fiercely exposed and battled the unjust apartheid system. Defending political prisoners and persistently challenging the perversion of the rule of law, his efforts were met with fierce retaliation.

In one shocking incident, Diar was arrested at court and detained in solitary confinement for a month without charge. His life even came under threat by the state, leading to his escape to Canada in 1989 with the assistance of Canada’s minister of foreign affairs.

Treasurer Jacqueline Horvat of the Law Society of Ontario spoke of Diar’s extraordinary achievements, saying, “The Human Rights Award is granted for devotion to the advancement of human rights and the rule of law over a long-term or for a single outstanding act of service. Mr. Diar’s lived experience and harrowing background as a human rights activist and lawyer make him a most deserving candidate of this award.”

After settling in Canada, Diar’s efforts to promote justice continued. He received a fellowship at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at Ottawa University’s Faculty of Law and authored the book “The Sharpeville Six, the South African Trial that Shocked the World,” published in 1990. He then worked with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, where he litigated precedent-setting racial and systemic discrimination cases.

Diar’s focus on Indigenous issues led to a pivotal role in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, and later, in 2017, he was recruited to work on reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. From 2018 to 2021, he spearheaded training for Ministry of Justice employees and developed Canada’s Indigenous Justice Strategy.

Since leaving the Department of Justice in 2022, Mr. Diar has been working on a training program addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples in the criminal legal system. Additionally, his inspiring life story is currently being developed into a full-length feature film.

The 2023 Human Rights Award will be presented to Mr. Diar at the 2024 Law Society Awards ceremony on May 22, 2024, honoring a career that reflects the highest ideals of the legal profession and the relentless pursuit of justice.

The Law Society of Ontario, responsible for regulating lawyers and paralegals in the public interest, continues its mission to protect the public interest, advance the cause of justice, facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario, and act in a timely, open, and efficient manner.

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