A Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist, Oluwafunke Adeoye, has emerged as one of the winners of the 2023 Waislitz Global Citizen Awards, with a prize money of $75,000. Adeoye is the founder of Hope Behind Bars Africa.
Adeoye was officially announced on August 8, 2023 as a winner in the 2023 edition by the global body. The honour makes her the first individual working in the Criminal Justice sector to win the global award.
According to the global body, the Nigerian born lawyer has over the years helped in providing free legal services and direct support to indigent incarcerated people, while promoting criminal justice reform through research, advocacy and technology.
Reacting to the award in a statement on August 9, 2023 in Abuja, Adeoye said she was inspired to begin the initiative in 2018, after some personal encounters with the justice system, including one where her father was arrested and detained for a crime he did not commit several years ago.
The organisation closes the justice gap by providing free legal services and direct support to low-income incarcerated individuals while promoting criminal justice reforms through research, evidence-based advocacy, and technology. Over 7,000 incarcerated individuals have benefitted from their interventions.
“It is crucial for people to understand that behind the labels of ‘convicts’ or ‘prisoners’, there are human beings with stories, hopes, and dreams. By offering legal aid, we strive to ensure that every person, regardless of their circumstances, has access to fair representation and a chance to rebuild their lives.”
The other winners of the award are: Peter Njeri and Esther Kimani, both Kenya citizens. They were named 2023 Waislitz Global Citizen Award winner and the Waislitz Global Citizen Disruptor Award winner respectively.
The Waislitz Global Citizen Awards are annual cash prizes totaling $250,000 that recognise the excellence of individuals in their work to end extreme poverty and its systemic causes.
The award is aimed at inspiring people working within their communities to overcome challenges like air and water pollution, period poverty, unstable infrastructure and gender disparities in education alongside two Kenyans.
The award is also initiated to drive the mission to end extreme poverty and improve the living conditions of people globally. The grand prize is $100,000, with two additional prizes of $75,000 each.