Skoll Foundation


International Bridges to Justice

Skoll Awardee(s): Karen Tse
Award Year: 2006
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Peace and Human Rights

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 “It is through the support of communities that the lawyers have the courage and strength to build the movement. In the words of a Kenyan proverb, ‘If you want to go fast, walk alone. If you want to go far, walk with others.’”

Sub-Issues: International Justice Each day, hundreds of thousands of citizens around the world are arbitrarily detained, tortured, and denied access to counsel and a fair trial.

The Skoll Awardee: A former public defender and ordained minister, Karen Tse moved to Cambodia in 1994 to train public defenders. “I remember peering through a prison cell and talking with a boy who had been detained and tortured,” she recalls. “He was just a boy who had tried to steal a bicycle and he had no one to defend him.” At that time, there was little Karen or others could do. Since then, governments throughout Asia, under pressure from human rights activists, have passed laws outlawing torture and providing citizens with basic rights, opening doors to develop criminal justice systems. Karen founded International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) in 2000 to promote local implementation of laws safeguarding citizen rights and to strengthen the critical, often neglected, defender side of the scale. IBJ provides tools and other support to build the skills required for defenders of justice and human rights to perform their jobs professionally, safely, and with the greatest effect on the justice system. It accomplishes this through in-country programs, web based tools and training, and online community building. At the time of the Award, IBJ had negotiated groundbreaking judicial reform measures with the governments of China, Vietnam, and Cambodia, and expanded programming to Rwanda, Burundi, and India.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2006:

  • IBJ has in-depth programs in Burundi, Cambodia, China, India, Rwanda, Singapore and Zimbabwe, in which it trains defense lawyers, persuades justice sector officials to create fairer criminal justice systems, and educates the public about their legal rights.
  • IBJ’s JusticeMakers program has provided funding for projects in 25 countries and built a global platform now used by more than 6,000 lawyers and human rights defenders.
  • IBJ has advanced the legal skills of thousands of lawyers, including some 400,000 who have used its Criminal Defense Wiki, which brings together the legal and professional experience of criminal defense practitioners, law students, professors, and other professionals in an . online information resource on different types of criminal justice systems and topics common to defenders throughout the world.
  • IBJ has educated millions of people to demand their legal rights.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.