“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 more than 100 prisoners of conscience. In 2017 alone, it worked in 16 countries, representing 48 people, and its work helped free 8 of them.
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 18 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.
Referred to by the New York Times as “The Extractor,” Jared Genser is Founder of Freedom Now, a non-governmental organization that works to free prisoners of conscience worldwide. He is also Managing Director of Perseus Strategies, a law and consulting firm that focuses on human rights, humanitarian, and corporate social responsibility projects.
Before founding Perseus Strategies, Genser was a partner in the government affairs practice of DLA Piper LLP and a management consultant with McKinsey & Company. He has taught semester-long seminars about the UN Security Council at Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania law schools. His pro bono clients have included former Czech Republic President Václav Havel and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Liu Xiaobo, Aung San Suu Kyi, Desmond Tutu, and Elie Wiesel. Among his current clients are imprisoned Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, and former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed.
Genser holds a B.S. from Cornell University, an M.P.P. from Harvard University’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.
Genser was an Associate of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University from 2014-2016, a Visiting Fellow with the National Endowment for Democracy from 2006-2007, and earlier in his career was named by the National Law Journal as one of “40 Under 40: Washington’s Rising Stars.”
He is author of The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Commentary and Guide to Practice (Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming 2019). In addition, he is co-editor of The UN Security Council in the Age of Human Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and The Responsibility to Protect: The Promise of Stopping Mass Atrocities in Our Times (Oxford University Press, 2011).
Genser is the recipient of the American Bar Association’s International Human Rights Award, Liberty in North Korea’s Freedom Fighter Award, and the Charles Bronfman Prize. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. In addition to being qualified to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia, he is also a Solicitor of England & Wales.
AWARD PRESENTATION: Jared Genser
Just as important as Freedom Now's approach to freeing prisoners of conscience is that it intentionally selects cases representing a broader set of abuses in a country. In so doing, its advocacy is designed to have a much broader impact than the mere representation of one person.WATCH HERE