Mirza Shahzad Akbar

Mirza Shahzad Akbar


Mirza Shahzad Akbar is committed to fighting the extreme human rights abuses that Pakistani citizens are facing. Akbar amplifies the voices of the marginalised, wages war in the courts of law and of public opinion, and utilises strategic cases to affect systemic change.

As founder and director of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, Akbar works towards the advancement, protection and enforcement of fundamental rights. He has been the first lawyer on the ground to protect civilian drone strike victims, hereby aiming to challenge the US covert drone strikes in non-combat zones. These victims represent some of the most marginalised communities in Pakistani society and it is through his diligent work building ties with these communities that some of the worst excesses of the “War on Terror” have been brought to light. Through his foundation, Akbar further fights to end the practice of enforced disappearances by the State and works towards the abolition of the death penalty in Pakistan, litigating cases of strategic significance with a view to saving lives and creating systemic change. He further spearheads the ground-breaking work of his foundation to abolish the death penalty for drug offences in Pakistan. Finally, Akbar is involved in other human-rights centred public interest litigation including on issues such as torture, gender and land rights.

Akbar creates a climate in which abuses are exposed, where perpetrators are held accountable and victims are provided the indispensable opportunity to share their story and secure reparations. His work is rooted in standing between the powerful and the powerless to ensure the indivisibility of the notions of justice and human rights. He is creating the necessary pressure to deter actors from committing similar future abuses.

This profile is based on the information shared in the nomination form.          
Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.