The Open Society Foundations has announced that Pedro Abramovay, a leading Brazilian human rights advocate, will head up its work in Latin America.
Abramovay will join the Foundations as Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean in September. In 2012, Open Society spent more than $28 million to promote drug policy, criminal justice, human rights, access to information, and migration in the region.
“Latin America — in particular Brazil — has undergone a transformation and is showing real leadership in the world from blazing a path on drug policy reform to gun control,” said George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations.
Over the past year, Abramovay has worked as Campaign Director for Avaaz, leading campaigns against corruption and for the promotion of human rights in Latin America. He is also a professor at Fundação Getulio Vargas School of Law in Rio de Janeiro.
Under President Lula, Abramovay helped draft significant pieces of legislation and led a campaign that resulted in the removal of an estimated half-million guns from circulation. He also worked on reform of Brazil’s penitentiary system and created a blog-led drafting process for legislation on internet freedom.
“Pedro Abramovay brings a wealth of insight into open society challenges facing Latin America,” said Chris Stone, President of the Open Society Foundations. “He has a long track record of rallying people together to tackle the most entrenched issues facing the region, and I look forward to working with him.”
Abramovay was nominated to become Brazil’s “drug czar” under President Dilma Rousseff. His nomination was withdrawn after only ten days, after he gave a public interview advocating for alternatives to incarceration in the sentencing of first-time drug offenders and of persons found guilty of small-scale drug dealing offences.
“Latin America has reached an exciting tipping point,” Abramovay said. “For the first time in history, we have a generation that has grown up with democracy instead of tyranny. These young people are open to strengthening democracy and engaging in movements to articulate and implement progressive policies and fight against human rights abuses.”
Abramovay has held a series of key posts within Brazil’s Ministry of Justice since 2004. He was a special adviser to the Minister of Justice from 2004 to 2006, the ministry’s Secretary for Legislative Affairs from 2007 to 2010, and Secretary of Justice from 2010 to 2011.