Prague, December 12 — On Tuesday, December 12, Ambassador Bijan Sabet presented the Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award to human rights activist and lawyer Vítězslav Dohnal.
“The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, ‘Whatever you choose to do, leave tracks. That means don’t do it just for yourself. You will want to leave the world a little better for your having lived.’ So today we are here to recognize a person who has done exactly that: through his efforts, Mr. Dohnal has left tracks that can be seen in every client he connected with effective legal representation. He has left tracks that can be seen in the generations of practicing lawyers who fight for the notion that everybody – no matter their background, their personal situation, or their financial means – is deserving of justice before the law,” the Ambassador said during the award ceremony.
Dohnal is one of the key figures in the Czech human rights community. As a pro bono attorney, he has improved access to legal aid for marginalized groups and disadvantaged clients. Dohnal is a co-founder of the Environmental Law Service, was the director of the non-profit organization Pro Bono Alliance, and is involved in the education of law students as the organizer of the annual School of Human Rights.
The U.S. Embassy established the annual Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award in 2004 to recognize people and institutions in the Czech Republic for significant accomplishments in the field of human rights. The award’s namesake, Alice Garrigue Masaryk, was a prominent Czech-American humanitarian and founder of the Czechoslovak Red Cross. The award serves as a tribute to her devotion to combating social injustice and her personal courage as displayed in her advocacy for human rights. The award is presented in connection with International Human Rights Day on December 10.
Dohnal joins the ranks of previous award winners, who include Magda Faltová, Elena Gorolová, Gwendolyn Albert, Monika Šimůnková, Veronika Ježková, Šimon Pánek, Anna Šabatová, Oldřich Kužílek, and many others.