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Home / Press Release / Hungarian Migrant Champion, RBG to Receive Awards During Human Rights First Dinner Tonight
October 17, 2018

Hungarian Migrant Champion, RBG to Receive Awards During Human Rights First Dinner Tonight

New York City – Tonight at Human Rights First’s annual awards dinner at Chelsea Piers in New York City, the organization will honor Márta Pardavi, co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, with its 2018 William D. Zabel Human Rights Award. Pardavi is being presented the award in honor of her work fighting for the rights of refugees, migrants, and other marginalized groups in Hungary and across Europe. Human Rights First will also present its 2018 Sidney Lumet Award for Integrity in Entertainment to the documentary film RBG for its efforts to spotlight the groundbreaking work of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg as both a lawyer and jurist on behalf of gender equality. Award winning journalist and best-selling author Katie Couric will host the evening’s celebration. Directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen will accept the Lumet Award.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate Márta Pardavi, who is standing up for refugees and the rights of all Hungarians at great personal risk,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Mike Breen. “At a time when the Hungarian government is peddling in hatred and xenophobia, Márta has shown the world what one brave woman can do in the face of authoritarianism.”  

Pardavi will accept the award at a time when Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is engaging in an unprecedented assault on human rights and the rule of law in Hungary, including through the recent passage of a law that criminalizes providing assistance to migrants and refugees. With its passage, Pardavi will likely be one of the first targets of the authoritarian government, and may face jail time.

Founded in 1989, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee seeks to protect human dignity and the rule of law through legal and public action. By providing pro-bono representation to refugees, detainees, and victims of human rights violations, the Committee is on the front lines of the fight for marginalized peoples, and exists as the only organization providing legal assistance to asylum seekers, refugees, and stateless persons in Hungary. A lawyer by training, Pardavi leads the organization's work in the field of refugee protection, spearheading their efforts to challenge the Hungarian government’s policies of arbitrary detention, reporting on human rights violations against refugees, and winning critical safeguards for particularly vulnerable refugees and their families.

Each year, the Sidney Lumet Award honors a work of popular culture that advances understanding of pressing human rights issues. RBG is revelatory portrait of a history-making woman that spotlights her groundbreaking work as both a lawyer and jurist on behalf of gender equality. It is a film that reveals a legal legacy that continues to impact the life of every American.

Tonight's program will also recognize this year's winners of the Marvin E. Frankel Award for extraordinary commitment to providing pro bono legal representation to individuals who have fled persecution and seek asylum in the United States. Human Right First will honor Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP in Washington, D.C., K&L Gates LLP in Houston, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP in Los Angeles, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher &Flom LLP in New York City for their exemplary support for the influx of refugees needing services arriving at the U.S. southern border.

Pardavi is available for interview. For more information about this award or Human Rights First’s annual dinner, to speak with the awardees, or to speak with Breen, please contact Corinne Duffy at duffyc@humanrightsfirst.org.