Skip Content
 

News

The AIRE Centre mourns the passing of Navtej Singh Ahluwalia

28 February 2018

 

The AIRE Centre is deeply saddened by the death of Navi Ahluwalia (Navtej Singh Ahluwalia) on Saturday 24 February 2018 - just days short of his 48th birthday.

 

Navi was a much loved and respected part of the AIRE Centre’s personal and professional family from almost the very beginning of the organisation in 1993. After his LLM and working for the Sikh Human Rights Group he joined our team. He was a young lawyer, not yet called to the Bar. He was so dedicated to his work that he had to be physically pushed out of the office to make him go and eat his qualifying dinners. He quickly acquired detailed expertise  and knowledge and a deep understanding of the European Convention on Human Rights - rare amongst his peers in those days. He worked with us on many landmark cases starting with Osman v UK.  He was a committed believer in justice and the rule of law and left no stone unturned or case unread in his meticulous preparations for whatever he undertook. This sometimes resulted in us coming into the office in the morning to find that he had been working there all night. He was invariably cheerful and full of jokes and stories and unstintingly generous in sharing his knowledge and time with our interns from around the globe.

 

He worked with us on conducting training for lawyers and judges when the Human Rights Act was coming into force. Despite his young years, he persuaded with unfailing charm the most resistant members of the profession to take on board what he was saying – a skill he also employed in his work at the Bar.  Later he was to use the same teaching talent and charm to conduct training for the Academy of European Law. He was modest and unassuming in his expertise, constantly worrying that he might have missed something important without realising that he was a source of infinite knowledge and wisdom. He worked patiently with those who did not (yet) have his knowledge to develop their legal skills.  

 

The AIRE Centre has worked in the Western Balkans for close to two decades now, and Navi was with us, visiting the region, from very early on. He kept on coming back, as he loved it, and the Western Balkans loved him back. With him he brought his knowledge but, more importantly, his passion and belief that we are all equal before the law and that there are few callings in life more noble than defending the rights for the most marginalised in our societies. He conveyed his messages with sensitivity and with great empathy for the challenges that judges, lawyers and NGOs in the Western Balkans face. He will be remembered with enormous fondness and respect by the hundreds of people he helped and supported, and his absence will be felt from Belgrade to Tirana.  We kept on learning from him even when the official conference programme was over. Learning that no matter how important the work in hand, there is nothing more important than phoning your children and talking through their school day. Learning about Sikh values and traditions one moment, and about the London music scene the next. His legal brilliance, passion, warmth and cheeky charm will be the abiding memories that will stay with us in the AIRE Center, and with the hundreds of judges and lawyers in the region.

 

He was invaluable for the experience and knowledge he brought to his post as the AIRE Centre’s Assistant Director. After his career at the Bar took off, he sat for many years on the AIRE Centre’s Management Committee, bringing to it his dedication to the organisation and a willingness to help resolve any difficulties encountered.

 

We last worked together professionally on SM(Algeria) in the UKSC  and he was proud of the result that came in his last days.

 

Navi’s personal generosity was an integral part of his loyalty to friends and colleagues. Those who knew him will not be surprised that he was also the office style adviser – clothes, furnishings, letterheads, flowers and of course cars and music.

 

The contribution he made to the AIRE Centre, as to so much else, was immeasurable and we mourn his loss.

 

Our thoughts and love are with Ansa and the children and with his mother and sister and the rest of his family and colleagues.  


 

< Back