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Sukanya Pillay

Executive Director and General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Sukanya Pillay joined CCLA in October 2009 as Director of the National Security Program. She was previously a law professor at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law (2002-2008), in-house legal counsel for Hutchison Telecommunications in India (2000-2002), Director of the Law & Human Rights Program at TVE International New York office (1998-2000), and Program Director of Witness with the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First), New York (1995-1998). She made over twenty missions to conflict zones worldwide in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. She has appeared before UN treaty bodies and Canadian courts on human rights issues, and has represented clients or presented expert evidence before administrative and judicial bodies in the US, India, Canada, and Europe.

Her research focuses on protecting the rights of vulnerable groups including the poor and disadvantaged in developing countries, refugees, and victims of human rights abuses, and she has written numerous papers published in academic journals on these issues. Sukanya won the Holmes-Cardozo award for research excellence from the American Academy of Legal Studies in Business (2006) for a co-authored paper on privacy, an Award for Excellence in Research from the University of Windsor (2005) for research and a documentary film on the effects of NAFTA on Mexican corn farmers, and an Outstanding Faculty Member Award from the Students Law Society Windsor (2003).

She graduated with a JD from the University of Windsor (1990), became a member of the Ontario Bar in 1992, and received an LL.M. in international legal studies from NYU School of Law (1994) where she was a graduate editor of the Journal of International Law and Politics. She worked at Davies Partners in Toronto (1992-1993), articled at Borden & Elliot (now Borden Ladner Gervais, Toronto) (1990-1991), clerked with the Ontario Court of Justice (1994-1995), and was seconded to work on the First Civil Justice Review with the Honourable Justice Robert Blair. Her documentary films and photography on human rights issues have appeared on BBC World, CBC, and in many film festivals.