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Sharing a noble cause

Rapper Will-I-Am of the Black Eyed Peas and Dr Iqbal Survé at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week. The rapper brought his band members along to the forum, where they told of how they emerged as migrants from different parts of the world.Picture: EPA

Rapper Will-I-Am of the Black Eyed Peas and Dr Iqbal Survé at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week. The rapper brought his band members along to the forum, where they told of how they emerged as migrants from different parts of the world.Picture: EPA

Published Jan 26, 2017

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“Dignity is the right of every person, including prisoners. Today’s prisoner could be tomorrow’s president or scientist or leader. Let’s come together to make the world a better place.” - Dr Iqbal Survé

The Geneva-based International Bridges to Justice (IBJ), one of the most prestigious global NGOs, announced the appointment of Sekunjalo Group chairman Dr Iqbal Survé to its global advisory board in Switzerland last week.

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Karen Tse, the chief executive and founder of IBJ, expressed her excitement “to have finally convinced Survé, after eight years of trying, to serve on the global advisory board of IBJ”.

“Dr Survé is an influential African entrepreneur, a global business leader and a recognised philanthropist; he is the most influential business leader in Africa with the vision to shape the future of the African continent,” Tse said.

Survé currently serves as a patron or board member of a number of NGO’s across the globe, and Survé philanthropies through its seven affiliated foundations, which support initiatives in childrens’, women and human rights; climate change; healthcare solutions for the poor; education and science; arts and culture; social entrepreneurship and impact investing.

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Tse said she was delighted that after eight years she convinced Survé to share his outstanding leadership skills and philanthropic experience with IBJ.

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“We respect Dr Survé for his medical work with victims of apartheid and provision of medical care to a number of prominent South Africans during and after their release from Robben Island.

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“IBJ focuses on ending torture around the world by guaranteeing all citizens the right to competent legal representation, the right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment, and the right to a fair trial. I am therefore very excited to welcome Dr Survé on the Advisory Board of IBJ”, she said.

Survé was honoured by Amnesty International in Paris in 1989 at Unesco for his medical and ethical work with victims of detention and torture.

IBJ’s focus centres on the abuse of prisoners. They found that 113 countries around the world still practice systematic torture, but of this number, 93 nations had passed legislation declaring torture illegal. “It is extremely hard to get people to care,” Tse said. But society needs to care, she argued, because “at the end of the day, the rule of law is the bedrock of a stable society”.

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Survé indicated that Tse had tried to convince him to join the IBJ advisory board for a number of years, but due to his busy schedule and global commitments he was not then able to accede to this request.

He said: “However, the plight of prisoners, be they imprisoned for petty crime, for refugee status as immigrants or wrongfully imprisoned, especially in developing and poor countries, where they have no access to legal representation, has become a major global issue.

“Prisoners are often kept for long periods of time without having gone to trial or being convicted. Many prisoners are often abused by authorities, simply because they don’t have the means to defend themselves.

“The plight of prisoners is an extension of my own work, which I did during the apartheid years with political prisoners, recognising the traumatic effects of imprisonment on their mental, psychological and physical wellbeing. The work of the IBJ, while not focused exclusively on political prisoners, is an extension of this work. I am therefore honoured and looking forward to working with Karen Tse and the IBJ Advisory Board,” Survé said.

Dr Survé is the chairman of Survé Philanthropies and seven affiliated foundations. He is also the patron of the Worlds Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child, a founder member of the Clinton Global Initiative, and twice honoured by President Clinton for his work on philanthropy and impact investing.

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