The global Amnesty International movement today announces the creation of a bursary in honour of its late employee Gaëtan Mootoo, Researcher for West Africa, who had been with the organisation for over 30 years.
The Gaëtan Mootoo Human Rights Defender Fellowship will sponsor a human rights defender to attend the René Cassin Foundation International Institute for Human Rights Summer School which takes place in Strasbourg each July.
“Gaëtan’s unwavering commitment to secure freedom and justice set him apart as a true human rights champion. His work enriched the lives of so many. As we mark two years since the death of our beloved colleague, and with the support of his family, we wanted to recognise his legacy in this way,” said Julie Verhaar, Amnesty International’s Acting Secretary General.
“We will continue to hold Gaëtan’s memory in our hearts. We hope this opportunity will inspire many more human rights defenders and activists to follow in Gaëtan’s footsteps to work tirelessly to bring justice around the globe.”
The four-week course will focus on international human rights law and international criminal and humanitarian law and will be granted each year to a young human rights defender from West Africa. Amnesty International will cover all related costs.
The foundation also provides sessions in West and Central Africa, where much of Gaëtan’s important work was carried out, should applicants be unable to attend the sessions in France.
With his extensive experience, Gaëtan’s research work covered many parts of West Africa – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo – and made a considerable impact in releasing prisoners of conscience, securing justice and reparations for many victims, and helping many affected communities to recover from human rights abuses.
“Over his extraordinary years as a human rights researcher, Gaëtan never tired of constantly working to secure justice for thousands of victims, many of whom have expressed to him their everlasting gratitude and friendship,” said Martyne Perrot-Mootoo.
“His dreams have always been to share his deep knowledge of the region with the younger generations. This scholarship is an opportunity for them to follow Gaëtan’s lead in calling for a fairer world. This bursary will contribute to that and we are delighted to see this happen”.
The René Cassin Foundation-International Institute for Human Rights aims to implement the defence and the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms through teaching and research in complete independence.
Due to restrictions in place over the COVID-19 pandemic, the course will not be available this summer. However, we will provide more details as they become available.