“According to the Talmud, pidyon shvuyim – the redemption of captives – is regarded as one of the most important of all charitable acts, superseding all other forms. This mitzvah rabah is central to who I am, keeping me engaged with the work itself and with my Jewish identity.”
Freedom Now selects cases that represent not just individuals, but also a broader set of abuses in a country so that its efforts have broad and long-lasting impact on policy. The organization has worked in 30 countries and freed 77 prisoners of conscience.
Prisoners of conscience are persons detained for their political, religious, or other beliefs or because of their ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, color, language, national or social origin, economic status, birth, or other status — who have not used or advocated violence.
With 26 campaigns currently underway, Freedom Now has represented clients around the world including Bahrain, Belarus, China, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Indonesia, Iran, Rwanda, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam – as well as the late 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo.
Jared Genser is Founder of Freedom Now, a non-profit organization dedicated to freeing prisoners of conscience worldwide through legal, political, and public relations advocacy efforts. Genser has built an organization that now has six full-time staff members and a $1 million annual budget. He has personally worked in more than a dozen countries and helped secure the release of 40 individual prisoners of conscience through and outside Freedom Now, including Ayub Masih, a Pakistani Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan; Yang Jianli, a former Tiananmen Square activist and scholar; Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and now the country’s leader; and former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed. Freedom Now currently has 26 campaigns underway. In addition, Genser has inspired and led global coalitions that have brought international attention to the world’s most repressive regimes. These efforts have resulted in the creation of a U.N. commission of inquiry to investigate mass atrocities in North Korea and Burma, which has become a permanent agenda item for the U.N. Security Council.
Genser is Managing Director of Perseus Strategies, a law and consulting firm that specializes in human rights, humanitarian causes, and corporate social responsibility projects. Previously, he was a partner in the government affairs practice of DLA Piper LLP and a management consultant with McKinsey & Company. His pro bono clients have included former Czech Republic President Václav Havel and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Aung San Suu Kyi, Liu Xiaobo, Desmond Tutu, and Elie Wiesel.
Genser holds a B.S. from Cornell University, a master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government where he was an Alumni Public Service Fellow, and a J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School. He has taught semester-long seminars about the U.N. Security Council at Georgetown University Law Center and at the University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania law schools. He was a 2014-2016 Associate at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University and a 2006-2007 Visiting Fellow with the National Endowment for Democracy.
He is author of The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Commentary and Guide to Practice which was published in 2017. In addition, he is co-editor of The UN Security Council in the Age of Human Rights (2016) and The Responsibility to Protect: The Promise of Stopping Mass Atrocities in Our Times (2011) with former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler.
Genser is an adviser to Ennaid Therapeutics, an innovative biotechnology company that brings cures to incurable diseases. In addition to his 2010 Charles Bronfman Prize, he is the recipient of the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation International Human Rights Award. He was named by the National Law Journal as one of “40 Under 40: Washington’s Rising Stars.” Genser is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has testified before the U.S. Congress and parliaments around the world. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.