Ron Merkel QC and David Manne are contenders for the 2011 Human Rights Medal, to be announced tomorrow (9 December).
Held at the Sofitel Hotel in Sydney, the awards ceremony will include an address by 2010 Human Rights Medal winner Thérèse Rein and the official Human Rights Day Oration by Australian Human Rights Commission president Catherine Branson QC.
More than 450 people will gather to hear the winners of 10 different award categories, including the Young People's Human Rights Medal.
Manne has been executive director of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre for 10 years, recently undertaking landmark strategic litigation to promote and protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in M61 v The Commonwealth & Ors in 2010 and Plaintiff M70 v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship.
A barrister since 1971 and Queen's Counsel since 1982, Merkel has devoted himself to access to justice for people who are marginalised and disadvantaged for over 40 years.
As finalists for the award, Merkel and Manne are joined by Yorta Yorta woman Muriel Bamblett and former ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope.
Bamblett has devoted her life to advocating for the rights of Aboriginal people in Australia and has been the CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency since 1999, while Stanhope was the leading proponent for a Bill of Rights that came to fruition in 2004, when the ACT Government became the first in Australia to pass a Human Rights Act.