RFK Center - Defending Human Rights In This World
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The Robert F. Kennedy Foundation of Europe governance organizations are the Board and the Trustees Committee.

The Board is composed of 10  members, of various nationalities, to respect our international call.

This Board’s mandate expires in 2010.



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  • Biography

    Kerry Kennedy is the President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. She is the author of The New York Times best seller “Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans talk about Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning,” published by Crown Books/Random House in September 2008, and “Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World,” (Random House, 2000).

    Ms. Kennedy started working in the field of human rights in 1981, when she investigated abuses committed by U.S. immigration officials against refugees from El Salvador. Since then, her life has been devoted to the pursuit of justice, to the promotion and protection of basic rights, and to the preservation of the rule of law. She established the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights in 1988. She has led over 50 human rights delegations around the globe.

    Ms. Kennedy is the founder of Speak Truth To Power, a global education initiative, which includes her book, the play, the photographic exhibition by Pulitzer Prize-winner Eddie Adams, the PBS documentary film, the education packet (a twelve-week course taught to 300,000 high school students around the world in 2009-2010), five public service announcements, the award-winning Web site, and federal legislation which increased funding for the protection of defenders.

    Ms. Kennedy is Chair of the Amnesty International USA Leadership Council and serves on the boards of directors of Human Rights First, Inter-Press Service and the United States Institute of Peace. She received high honors from President Lech Walesa of Poland for aiding the Solidarity movement and is the recipient of many other prizes.

    Ms. Kennedy is a graduate of Brown University and Boston College Law School and she is a member of the Massachusetts and District of Columbia bars. She has campaigned in every Presidential election since 1968.

    She is the mother of three daughters, Cara, Mariah and Michaela.

    Connect with Kerry Kennedy!

    Kerry Kennedy is on Facebook and Twitter! Follow her feeds and get updates about her public appearances, interviews and op-eds.

    Related Content

  • Legacy of Robert F. Kennedy
  • RFK Europe
  • RFK Partners for Human Rights
  • RFK Speak Truth To Power
  • RFK Children's Action Corps
  • Health eVillages
  • In Other News
  • Legacy of Robert F. Kennedy:

    RFK Europe:

  • Kerry Kennedy Discusses Robert Kennedy's Trip to South Africa
  • Video: Kerry Kennedy Discusses Robert F. Kennedy's Legacy, Human Rights Laureate Abel Barrera
  • Kerry Kennedy's Speech at the Dedication of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge
  • CNN: 'Kerry Kennedy Looks Back at Campaigns'

  • Speak Truth To Power: First Memorandum of Understanding Signed
  • Kerry Kennedy to Participate in Italy's 32nd Annual Premio Ischia Journalism Awards
  • Kerry Kennedy & Cherie Blaine in Trent
  • Kerry Kennedy & Students from the South
  • Kerry Kennedy at Gutenburg Project in Cantanzaro
  • Kerry Kennedy in Calabria for Gutenburg Project
  • The St. Mortiz Award Goes to Kerry Kennedy & Fondazione Milan
  • December 10, 2009: Human Rights Day - RFK Europe Active in Italy & Romania
  • Press Conference for the Launch of STTP Projects in Romania
  • RFK Partners for Human Rights:

    RFK Speak Truth To Power:

  • 'Get Your Boot off My Neck'
  • Kennedys Join CIW in Fast for Fair Food
  • 'To Break the Bonds of Injustice' (IPS)
  • 'Farmworkers, Religious Leaders, Consumers to Hold 6-Day “Fast for Fair Food” Outside Publix Corporate Headquarters' (Businesswire)
  • 'Ugandan Parliament Acts to Legalize Hate Against the LGBTI Community'
  • Kerry Kennedy, President of the RFK Center, Expresses Grave Concern over Legislating Hatred by the Ugandan Parliament
  • A Letter from Kerry Kennedy: Mourning the Loss of RFK Human Rights Award Laureate Kim Keun Tae
  • Video: Kerry Kennedy's Remarks at the 2011 RFK Human Rights Award Ceremony
  • Remarks by Kerry Kennedy at the 2011 RFK Human Rights Award Ceremony
  • Statement on the Passing of America Sosa by Kerry Kennedy, President of the RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights
  • A Letter to My Daughters upon Returning from Guerrero, Mexico
  • Victims of BP Oil Spill Still Need Healthcare: A Guest Column by Kerry Kennedy
  • Defending Human Rights in Mexico
  • Governor Meets with Representatives of the RFK Center & Abel Barrera
  • Kerry Kennedy Meets with Fishermen, Oil Spill Clean Up Workers in Mississippi
  • Gulf Community Tells RFK Center Calls for Medical Help are Ignored
  • Kerry Kennedy to Lead Delegation to Gulf Coast to Assess Healthcare Crisis since BP Drilling Disaster
  • Video: Kerry Kennedy Discusses RFK's Legacy, Human Rights Laureate Abel Barrera
  • SKY TG 24: Kerry Kennedy & Stephen Bradberry Live on the BP Oil Spill
  • Kerry Kennedy: The Oil Spill is a Humanitarian Catastrophe, BP Should Pay
  • Op-Ed: Guiding Haiti's Roadmap to Recovery with Human Rights, by Kerry Kennedy & Monika Kalra Varma
  • Kerry Kennedy Urges Morocco: Allow Return of Illegally Expelled Saharawi Rights Defender Aminatou Haidar
  • Remarks by Kerry Kennedy: 2009 RFK Human Rights Award Ceremony
  • Remarks by Kerry Kennedy: 2008 RFK Human Rights Award Ceremony
  • Kerry Kennedy Meets with Dominican Officials, Voices Concerns over Discrimination against Dominicans of Haitian Descent
  • Remarks by Kerry Kennedy: 2007 RFK Human Rights Award Ceremony
  • Statement by Kerry Kennedy on the Immokalee Workers-McDonald's Agreement
  • Remarks by Kerry Kennedy: 2006 RFK Human Rights Award Ceremony
  • Remarks by Kerry Kennedy: 2002 RFK Human Rights Award Ceremony
  • Bullying, Leadership and the Presidency of the United States
  • Kerry Kennedy discusses Bullying on Andrea Mitchell Reports
  • Kerry Kennedy introduces Speak Truth To Power to a global audience LIVE
  • Speak Truth To Power: First Memorandum of Understanding Signed
  • Kerry Kennedy Appears on MSBNC to Discuss Bullying
  • Kerry Kennedy Discusses Nobel Peace Summit and STTP Chicago
  • Baltasar Garzon, Champion of Human Rights
  • 'Dalai Lama to Join Nobel Summit in Chicago' (Fox News)
  • VIDEO: WGNTV Chicago Interviews Kerry Kennedy
  • 'Kerry Kennedy: Bullying is a Human Rights Issue' (NPR)
  • 'Kennedy Battles Bullying' (MSNBC)
  • 'Kerry Kennedy Launches Campaign Against Bullying' (Capital Tonight)
  • 'Kerry Kennedy Introduces Human Rights Lessons to NYC Schoolkids' (Public News Service)
  • 'NYSUT and Kerry Kennedy Target Bullying' (Capital Tonight)
  • 'Kerry Kennedy Speaks to Seven Bridges Students'
  • RFK Center, NYSUT & UFT launch Bullying Lesson to Speak Truth To Power Curriculum
  • Interview with Kerry Kennedy: Speak Truth To Power Without Fear (Part 1)
  • Interview with Kerry Kennedy: Speak Truth To Power Without Fear (Part 2)
  • Wangari Maathai: A 'Mighty Woman' Who Spoke Truth To Power: A Statement by Kerry Kennedy
  • Kerry Kennedy Honored for Human Rights Advocacy
  • Kerry Kennedy Honored for Her Contribution to Public Education
  • Kerry Kennedy Speaks on Human Rights in Cambodia
  • RFK Center Brings Speak Truth To Power to Hong Kong
  • 'A Kennedy's Campaign for Human Rights in Asia'
  • STTP Defenders, Ethel Kennedy and Kerry Kennedy Visit the High School for Public Service in Brooklyn
  • Kerry Kennedy and Students from the South
  • Kerry Kennedy at Gutenburg Project in Cantanzaro
  • Kerry Kennedy in Calabria for Gutenburg Project
  • The Public Theater in New York City Hosts Speak Truth To Power
  • Press Conference for the Launch of STTP Projects in Romania

    RFK Children's Action Corps:

    Health eVillages:

    Video: Kerry Kennedy Discusses the RFK Children's Action Corps on MSNBC Forbes Interview with Kerry Kennedy on the Launch of Health eVillages

    In Other News:

  • Ode to My Best Friend -- Mary Richardson Kennedy
  • Dissent, China's One Child Policy & Chen Guangcheng
  • Nobel Laureates & Students Discuss Role of Women in Human Rights
  • Kerry Kennedy Will Deliver Commencement Address at Albany College
  • 'Immigration bill is reminder of past' (Montgomery Advertiser)
  • Kerry Kennedy Participates in Annual Selma-to-Montgomery Trek
  • Italy Leads Way In Ending Female Genital Mutilation Across Globe
  • 'Chevron Blames Victims of Its Deliberate Contamination of Ecuadorian Rainforest' (Huffington Post)
  • 'Kerry Kennedy Uses Star Power for Good' (U.S. News & World Report)
  • Videos: Kerry Kennedy's Interview with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
  • Albany Times Covers Kerry Kennedy at Farmworkers Rally
  • Kerry Kennedy to Speak at Farmworkers' Rally in Albany
  • Kerry Kennedy's Statement on the Passing of Albertina Sisulu
  • Kerry Kennedy to Speak at Rally to Stop Child Labor in Cocoa Industry
  • Kerry Kennedy Joins Commemoration of "Bloody Sunday" at Edmund Pettus Bridge
  • Kerry Kennedy's Statement on the Release of Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Kerry Kennedy on Human Rights Day 2009
  • Op-Ed: This Must Be New York's Final Harvest of Shame, by Kerry Kennedy
  • Kerry Kennedy Reflects on Sen. Edward Kennedy
  • Remarks by Kerry Kennedy at the United Nations UNICRI Conference on Terrorism
  • images/stories/articles.jpg

    Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, United States

    Robert F. Kennedy Center - Europe

    Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, United States

    Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy *

    Robert Smith *
    Vista Equity Partners 

    Terry Mazany
    President, Chicago Community Trust

    Robert Wolf *
    CEO, 32 Advisors, LLC

    Anthony Williams *
    McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP


    Harry Belafonte
    Activist/Entertainer, Belafonte Enterprises, Inc.

    Alan H. Buerger
    Founder and CEO, Coventry

    Larry Cox
    Former Executive Director of Amnesty International
    Former Sr. Human Rights Program Officer at Ford Foundation
    Currently on an education sabbatical

    Peter Edelman
    Co-Director, Joint Degree in Law and Public Policy; Faculty Director, Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy, Professor of Law at Georgetown University

    Mark E. Freitas *
    President and Founder, Mark Edward Partners

    Tim Gannon
    Co-Founder, Outback Steakhouse
    Owner, PDQ

    Jonah Goodhart
    Founder, MOAT Digital Advertising and Media Company

    Claudio Grossman
    Chair, UN Committee Against Torture
    Dean, Washington College of Law

    Richard Iannuzzi
    Consultant / Education and Labor

    Philip W. Johnston
    President and Founder, Johnston Associates

    Kerry Kennedy 
    President, RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights

    The Honorable Joseph P. Kennedy, III
    United States Congressman
    Massachussets, 4th District 

    Matthew Kennedy
    CEO, Kennedy Merchant Partners

    Marialina Marcucci
    Managing Director, Ultima Communications
    Former Vice President, Tuscan Region for Culture

    Elisa Massimino
    President, Human Rights First

    Michael Posner
    NYU Stern School of Business 
    Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor 

    Terry Mazany *
    President, Chicago Community Trust

    John Rogers
    Founder, Ariel Capital Investments

    Marvin S. Rosen
    President, Fusion Telecommunications International

    Malika Saada Saar
    Executive Director, Rights for Girls

    Dr. Jeffrey Sachs
    President, Jeffrey Sachs Associates

    Henry S. Schleiff
    Group President, Investigation Discovery, Military Channel, and Destination America with Discovery Communications, Inc. 

    Martin Sheen

    Luz Vega-Marquis
    Seattle, Washington
    The Marguerite Casey Foundation

    Robert Wolf *
    CEO, 32 Advisors, LLC

    Paul van Zyl
    CEO, Miyet

    Gabrielle Greene Sulzberger
    Rustic Canyon/Fontis Partners, L.P.
    James J. Pinto
    Chief Executive Officer
    MVC Acquisition Corporation

    Ex Officio Member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee

    Lynn Delaney * 
    Executive Director, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

    John Zurick
    Chief Organizational Officer, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

    * Executive Committee members

    Robert F. Kennedy Center - Europe

    Honorary President
    Kerry Kennedy
    International lawyer

    Marialina Marcucci

    Riccardo Monti
    Value Partners S.p.A. - Director of the Rome office

    General Secretariat

    John Zurick
    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

    Francesco Aletti Montano
    Aletti Montano & Co Family Office Sr President

    Marco Gualtieri

    Phil Johnston

    Orin S. Kramer

    David Stein
    Stein Hotels - CEO

    Donato J. Tramuto
    Physicians Interactive - CEO

    Adolfo Vannucci

    Anthony Williams
    DLA Piper LLC - International lawyer


    'Get Your Boot off My Neck'

    (2012-04-10) The following op-ed by Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, appeared today on Inter Press Service as well as on Huffington Post. Ms. Kennedy wrote the piece while traveling as part of an RFK Center human rights delegation to Mexico, hosted by 2010 RFK Human Rights Award Laureate Abel Barrera. During the trip, the delegation was illegally detained by the Mexican army. Ms. Kennedy's daughter Michaela accompanied her on the trip. Read the op-ed below:

    en Español

    Last weekend, my 14-year-old daughter, Michaela, and I were en route to Easter Sunday mass in Acapulco. We were stopped, harassed, threatened, and detained by eight soldiers in battle fatigues brandishing automatic weapons.

    At first, I was merely concerned; after all, we were travelling with RFK Human Rights Award Laureate Abel Barrera and his legal team, among the brightest lawyers in Mexico. Our attorneys immediately cited four articles of the Mexican constitution that the infantry lieutenant violated. 

    After establishing that we were an international human rights organisation, the lieutenant responsible for the checkpoint maliciously demanded to inspect our belongings for narcotics. He raged menacingly, "I am the authority, I have the power." At that moment, my heart stopped. 

    The day before I had sat in awe at the courage of José Rubio as he told us about his brother, Bonfilio, who was murdered by the Mexican military at another illegal roadblock, not unlike this one. Like tens of thousands of men and women from La Montaña, the poorest region in the poorest state of Mexico, Bonfilio had left his indigenous community intent on landing a job in the United States during the growing season. 

    Forty minutes after he boarded the bus on Jun. 20, 2009, infantry soldiers stopped the vehicle to search for drugs but found none; when the bus driver confronted them for the stop, they became enraged. 

    As the bus pulled away, the soldiers opened fire, killing Bonfilio, who had fallen asleep in the last seat. When the driver pulled to a stop, the army, seeing the corpse, decided to conduct a second search. This time, they claimed they "discovered" five bales of marijuana beneath passenger seats. They give no explanation as to how they missed the five shoebox-sized bales on the first inspection. 

    Over the past three years, José has been harassed and visited at home in the middle of the night by soldiers dressed in civilian clothes. He has been offered bribes, threatened with death, and pressured by family and friends who were threatened and bribed themselves, all in a campaign to get José to drop charges against the military for his brother's wrongful death. 

    This is the pattern that those who seek to enforce basic human rights protections can expect in La Montaña. But, because of his extraordinary courage, José Rubio has achieved something extraordinary for his brother and his countrymen: the Rubio case is the first in which a federal court has ruled that a human rights violation committed by the military must be tried by civilian, rather than military, court. 

    Unfortunately, instead of accepting civilian jurisdiction, the military has appealed. 

    Today, Mexico faces a turning point. Will the long history of military impunity prevail? Or will the executive, judicial, and legislative branches finally live up to the promises they have made to the international community and their own citizens, and ensure that cases of military abuse of civilians are tried fairly in civilian courts? 

    In 2010, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in the cases of indigenous human rights defenders Inés Fernández and Valentina Rosendo, who were raped and tortured by soldiers in retaliation for their community's activism; the court stated that Mexico must try such cases in civilian court. In response, the Supreme Court of Mexico confirmed the Inter-American Court decision. 

    On December 9, 2011, President Calderon, along with the Attorney General, publicly stated their support of the measures. 

    The Rubio case is the first time that the Supreme Court and the President have had their resolve tested, and the military appears determined to maintain the status quo and act above the law. 

    President Calderon should make a strong and unequivocal public statement clarifying his support for civilian jurisdiction in cases of military abuse of civilians. Furthermore, he should immediately instruct the military prosecutor to stop appealing cases on jurisdictional grounds. 

    Mexico's Congress should pass pending legislation that would require all cases of military abuse against civilians to be tried under civilian jurisdiction. And the President should state that he will immediately sign the legislation into law. 

    The Supreme Court should deny the appeal of the military and establish binding jurisprudence that all cases of military abuse against civilian will be tried in civilian courts. 

    Through the Mérida Initiative, the United States has supported the Mexican military's narco-trafficking reform efforts to the tune of $1.6 billion since 2008. We should make clear that we believe that illegal road blocks, harassment, unlawful detention, and other abuses of civilian rights undermine faith in the institution of the military and are unacceptable. 

    On Sunday, I experienced what few leaders in Mexico's elite know: the fear of a military that turns its power on the very people it has vowed to protect, the rage engendered when that power is challenged, and the arbitrary nature of its wrath. 

    The next day, Michaela and I were able to continue with our plans to visit the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Our ordeal lasted about 30 minutes, but for many Mexican human rights defenders, confronting the military does not end so well. It is time to rehabilitate the reputation of the Mexican military. Ending impunity will be the first step.


    ¡Quita tu bota de mi cuello!

    Kerry Kennedy, Presidenta del Centro para la Justicia y Derechos Humanos Robert F. Kennedy (Centro RFK)

    El pasado domingo 8 de abril, mientras transitábamos por carretera de Ayutla hacia Acapulco, mi hija Michaela de 14 años y yo fuimos hostigadas y amenazadas por ocho soldados en un retén militar. Conmigo fueron detenidas arbitrariamente ocho personas más provenientes de Estados Unidos, que visitaban Guerrero para conocer la situación de las comunidades indígenas y el trabajo de la organización civil Tlachinollan.

    Al principio no me preocupé; después de todo, nos encontrábamos viajando con Abel Barrera, laureado con el Premio de Derechos Humanos del Centro Robert F. Kennedy y con su equipo de abogados, quienes inmediatamente citaron los artículos de la Constitución que el Teniente de Infantería a cargo del retén estaba violando. Pero el Teniente maliciosamente exigió inspeccionar nuestras pertenencias para asegurarse que no cargábamos narcóticos y de manera amenazante expresó: “Yo soy la autoridad. Yo tengo el poder”. En ese momento mi corazón se detuvo.

    No era para menos: el día anterior, en Tlapa, había escuchado a José Rubio, quien me contó la historia de su hermano Bonfilio, indígena naua asesinado por militares mexicanos en un retén no muy distinto al que nos tenía detenidas a mí y a mi hija. Durante los últimos tres años, José y su valiente esposa Verónica han sido hostigados para que desistan de su denuncia como ocurre frecuentemente a quienes demandan los más elementales derechos en la Montaña; sin embargo, debido a su determinación, José ha logrado algo extraordinario: el caso Bonfilio Rubio Villegas fue el primero en el que un Juez Federal ordenó que una violación de derechos humanos cometida por militares sea juzgada en la jurisdicción civil federal, y no bajo el fuero militar. Desafortunadamente, el Ejército apeló y desafió la histórica decisión judicial.

    Hoy México enfrenta un momento decisivo. ¿Prevalecerá la histórica impunidad militar o los poderes Ejecutivo, Judicial y Legislativo cumplirán sus deberes para que el Estado mexicano establezca de una vez por todas que los abusos militares en contra de civiles serán juzgados con imparcialidad en la jurisdicción ordinaria?

    En 2010, la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos emitió sus fallos en los casos de Inés Fernández y Valentina Rosendo, mujeres del Pueblo Mephaa violadas y torturadas por soldados cuyo valiente testimonio también he escuchado, ordenando investigar y juzgar dichos casos en el ámbito civil. Por su parte, la Suprema Corte de México confirmó la obligatoriedad de los fallos del Tribunal Interamericano al analizar el Caso Radilla. Adicionalmente, el 9 de diciembre del 2011, el Presidente Calderón junto a la Procuradora General de la República públicamente anunció su compromiso de acatar dichas decisiones.

    Pero el caso Rubio pone a prueba tanto a la Suprema Corte como al Presidente, al evidenciar que el Ejército parece empeñado en mantener el status quo y actuar por encima de la ley.

    La responsabilidad es de Estado. El Presidente Calderón, máximo mando de las Fuerzas Armadas, debe emitir una directriz sobre la obligación de someter en la jurisdicción civil los casos de abusos de militares en contra de civiles. Por su parte, el Congreso Mexicano debe aprobar de inmediato la reforma al Código de Justicia Militar. Finalmente, la Suprema Corte debe denegar la apelación del Ejército en el caso Rubio y construir con ello jurisprudencia obligatoria sobre el tema.

    Estos días, mi hija y yo experimentamos lo que pocos líderes en la élite política de México conocen: el miedo ante un militar que vuelve su poder en contra de las mismas personas a las que ha jurado proteger, la furia engendrada cuándo ese poder es cuestionado y la naturaleza de su absurda ira.

    Para muchos y muchas defensoras de derechos humanos en México, confrontar a militares no termina bien. Es tiempo de que el Ejército mexicano rinda cuentas para restablecer su reputación; terminar con la impunidad debe ser el primer paso.

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