Thor Halvorssen has one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. As the president of the Human Rights Foundation he is tasked with helping those living under dictatorships across the world with finding ways to empower themselves and establish the parameters of their freedom. Since dictators usually don’t take opposition to their regimes lightly. They use prisons, intimidation, and violence to suppress those willing to challenge them. Nonetheless Halvorssen continues his fight for humanity. Born and raised in Venezuela he has personal reasons for his activism. His family bears the scars and pain that come with challenging authoritarian government.
The Family That Fights Together
Halvorssen isn’t the only freedom fight in his family. Both his mother and father are staunch opponents of the dictatorships that dominate their native land of Venezuela. His father, Thor Halvorssen Hellum, was once imprisoned on false charges for investigating possible drug trafficking activity involving Venezuelan officials. His mother was shot and killed during a protest against the Hugo Chavez regime. More recently Halvorssen has seen one of his cousins imprisoned in Venezuela for his activities against the government.
The Daily Risks Of A Fighter
The president of the Human Rights Foundation isn’t in a particularly comfortable position. Everyday he risks actual danger to his person and well being. An example of the immense sacrifices of Halvorssen is the time he was arrested in Vietnam. After interviewing the head of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Thich Quang Do, he was placed under arrest and imprisoned. Fortunately Halvorssen thought quickly and told the authorities he was simply converting to Buddhism. While he managed to escape a gloom fate this is a reality he must live with everyday. He understands that his work may some day end in a tragic fashion but he continues to stand up for human rights.
Brazil has a Judicial system that is out of control. Brazil has more than 1,240 law schools. That is more than the rest of the world combined. There are more than 800,000 lawyers in the country, and that means Brazil has more lawyers per capita than the United States. Brazil’s 1988 Constitution created a large number of rights for the people, according to legal expert Ricardo Tosto. When the people realized they had these new rights, they started to litigate to get them.
Ricardo Tosto knows a lot about the legal system in his country. Tosto specializes mergers and acquisitions, credit recovery, corporate restructuring, electoral law, international law and commercial and civil litigation. His solid law practice helped get the law firm Leite, Tosto e Barros Advogados started. Tosto has been a practicing lawyer for more than 22 years.
Ricardo is a graduate of the Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie. Tosto also has a Business Administration degree from FAAP. He is a member of the International Bar Association, and he is a past president of the São Paulo OAB Commission. Tosto tried to modernize the legal process while he was part of the OAB Commission. Mr. Tosto is also a member of the Brazilian Bar Association, as well as the Law Firms and Partnerships Research Centre.
There are 16,000 judges in Brazil, and there are many judgeships that are unfilled, according to Mr. Tosto. Even though judges can earn $10,000 a month, many lawyers choose a private practice because the money is better. Tosto recently told an interviewer that a simple legal case would take at least three to five years before it is resolved. Some lawyers tell stories of people growing old and dying before their cases are heard in front of a judge. Waiting to get legal issues resolved in Brazil is a nightmare, and it seems like the system continues to add cases to the existing backlog. One reason for the backlog is the 800,000 lawyers in the country are trying to make a living, and most of them get paid before cases are in front of a judge.