Royal award for Sheffield Hallam human rights champion

21st June 2017

Sheffield Hallam University's head of law and criminology has been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his commitment to furthering education and human rights at national and international level.

Sital Dhillon was awarded an OBE for services to higher education in the Queen's Birthday Honours List announced this weekend. He will formally receive his OBE at Buckingham Palace later this year. Mr Dhillon, a barrister specialising in human rights, has worked in over 35 countries during his diplomatic career with the British Council. In 2010, Mr Dhillon was posted to Afghanistan and was awarded the Queen's Civilian Service Medal for his work in helping thwart the impact of a terrorist attack on the British Council offices in Kabul. His work has included delivering human rights projects on behalf of Nelson Mandela, and leading access to justice and police and prison reform programmes in India and Brazil. He has also provided human rights consultancy advice to a range of international agencies including UNICEF and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, including projects aimed at combating torture and child trafficking. Since joining Sheffield Hallam University in 2010, he has transformed the performance and practice of its department of law and criminology. This has included widening opportunity for its students, 40 per cent of whom come from low income households. In 2017, the department was voted the best provider of legal education by a panel of peers. In conjunction with Baroness Helena Kennedy, Mr Dhillon established the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice (HKC) at Sheffield Hallam in 2015. The HKC delivers applied research, projects and teaching on themes focused on international justice and human rights Mr Dhillon also leads the HKC's high profile Justice Talks seminar series, which brings issues of international justice and human rights to public audiences. Recent contributions from leading figures have included Baroness Shami Chakrabati, Trevor Philips OBE and Terry Waite CBE. Mr Dhillon has ensured pro bono legal support is provided to the population of Sheffield, and to refugees to the city, through the HKC Law Clinic in which students provide free, independent and confidential legal service under the supervision of qualified solicitors. He is also patron of Key Changes, a Sheffield-based charity providing support to women who have experienced the criminal justice system. Mr Dhillon said: "This award would have not come to be without the inspirational people I have worked with at Sheffield Hallam - where we seek to transform the lives of our students - and at the British Council. "I'm especially grateful to those inspirational human rights champions across the world with whom I have been fortunate enough to learn so much during my career."

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