Since the illegal invasion of Ukraine began, the solicitor profession has stood in solidarity with the country and its people. We brought together over 100 displaced Ukrainian lawyers and 24 major employers to create networking, employment and training opportunities.
Over 170 guests attended the job fair on 26 September, which aimed to support Ukrainian lawyers who have moved to the UK following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.
Over 20 major employers, including Shell, Deutsche Bank, Dentons and LexisNexis, had the opportunity to promote a diverse range of roles and initiatives to more than 100 Ukrainian lawyers and collect applications for vacancies.
UK organisations also provided practical advice and guidance, helping lawyers to understand their options for employment and training.
“Today is an example of solidarity in action,” said chief executive of the Law Society, Ian Jeffrey.
“We have brought together law firms, in-house legal teams, legal service providers, recruitment agencies, training providers and English language schools that Ukrainian lawyers will be able to meet with.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, gave a powerful speech condemning Russia’s illegal invasion of his homeland.
He also highlighted the critical role of initiatives that address local problems experienced by Ukrainian refugees, including the search for employment and housing.
On Friday, September 23, a copy of a letter appeared online that was written by Viktor Shepilov, Military Commissioner of Moscow, to Igor Polyakov, president of the Moscow Bar Association. Calling attention to offers made on social media for “legal services for the purpose of draft evasion,” the Commissioner warns that under Article 33 of the Russian Criminal Code, “assisting in evading military service, counseling on draft evasion, and mediating evasion” could be considered participation in a criminal act of a conscript, as qualified in Article 328 of the Russian Criminal Code.
On the same day, Rossiiskaya gazeta also published information about the letter, which was circulated online and signed by Shepilov, thus supporting its authenticity. The author of the piece alleges that, in addition to sending the letter to the Moscow Bar Association’s president, the Commissar has sent it to the association’s council and to “leaders of Moscow’s legal community.” The letter requests that they “articulate and circulate the legal community’s public position on the inadmissibility of assisting citizens in evading conscription.”
To date, none of the aforementioned agencies has received Shepilov’s letter, and there has also been no information from bar associations in other regions of Russia regarding similar letters. Nevertheless, the “leaders of the legal community” are alarmed at the threat of being prosecuted on charges of aiding and abetting, as well as at the potential for their colleagues to be mobilized, which also threatens their clients’ rights. They gathered over the weekend to “articulate their position” and outline a response to the commissioner, based on the Ilya Repin painting Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks. Here is the rough draft of their work:
Your Excellency, distinguished Major General of the Reserve!
Forced mobilization for military service should be regarded as essentially depriving a citizen of their liberty, as well as, in the long run, their life, in the absence of any indication of guilt. The legal community has not found any information in the Criminal Code you referenced that pertains to this, with the exception of Article 39, ‘Extreme Necessity’: ‘It is not a crime to cause harm to the interests protected by criminal law … in order to eliminate a danger directly threatening an individual and their rights, or the rights of others … if this danger cannot be eliminated by other means and the limits of extreme necessity have not been exceeded.’
Stopped at the airport, Vo An Dan and his family had hoped to seek asylum in the US.
Vietnamese human rights lawyer Vo An Don and his family were stopped by police in Ho Chi Minh City this week from boarding a flight to New York, where they had hoped to apply for political asylum in the US, the well-known rights lawyer told RFA on Wednesday.
Don and other family members were barred from leaving Vietnam by police at Tan Son Nhat Airport at around 9:42 p.m. on Sept. 27, Don said, calling the action taken against him by authorities arbitrary and vindictive.
Don added that airport police told him he would need to contact immigration authorities in his home province of Phu Yen, on Vietnam’s south-central coast, for an explanation of the order barring his travel overseas.
He and his family were now on their way back to Phu Yen, Don said.
“I’ll work with the Phu Yen police tomorrow to find out why my departure was temporarily suspended,” Don said, saying that airport police had cited “security reasons” for blocking his departure in accordance with Article 36 of the Law on Entry and Exit for Vietnamese citizens.
According to Vietnamese law, citizens of the country have the right to travel domestically and overseas, Don said. “I’ll take legal action against them and file a request for compensation if they fail to give legitimate reasons for what they did,” he added.
“In the past, I used to work as a defense lawyer for ordinary, common people,” said Don, whose license to practice law was revoked in 2017 after he successfully defended the right to benefits of the surviving family members of a person who died in police custody.
L’avocat jouit d’une immunité de parole et d’écriture quand il défend la cause de son client. Propos de Maître Gustave Niyonzima, avocat du Dr Christophe Sahabo dans les juridictions internationales, après l’arrestation de Maître Sandra Ndayizeye qui défend Dr Christophe Sahabo dans les cours et tribunaux du Burundi. Me Gustave Niyonzima estime que cet emprisonnement ternit gratuitement la Justice burundaise.
Engels Wladimir Puertas Ochoa is a lawyer and human rights defender. He is member of the legal team of the organisation “100% Estrógeno”, where he works defending cases related to gender, gender equality and gender identity. He also leads the organisation “Iniciativa por una Justicia Igualitaria” (Initiative for Equal Justice), together with other lawyers of the organisation. For more than eight years, he has been representing students, human rights activists and victims of arbitrary detention and frame-ups (the falsification and production of incriminating evidence in court against a particular individual).
The Observatory has been informed of several risks and attacks suffered by the lawyer Engels Wladimir Puertas Ochoa from March 2011 until today, with an even higher frequency during the year 2021.
In the period between 2011 and 2016, the lawyer had already been victim of persecution, attacks, threats, harassment and has suffered 6 arbitrary detentions during which he was subjected to torture, isolation, psychological pressure and illegal deprivation of his liberty. According to his own statements, regional and national security bodies (the Intelligence Division of the Mérida State Police and the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service) were responsible for these arbitrary detentions, which took place in the context of peaceful protests for the rights of imprisoned students.
Since 6 October 2021, he has been threatened with arrest by order of the fourth judge of the criminal judicial circuit of the judicial district of the state of Mérida, following the instructions of the same institution president, lawyer Carla Gardenia Araque. According to the lawyer Gardenia, these threats are due to the multiple complaints he has filed with the competent authorities regarding acts of corruption in the judicial system of this city.
On the same day, during a hearing in the trial in which he is the defence lawyer, the Fourth Public Prosecutor of the Judicial District of the State of Mérida threatened and physically assaulted Engels Puertas and part of his team, ordering his detention in the facilities of the Judicial Criminal Circuit of the State of Mérida.
Engels Puertas is currently out of Venezuela because he has received serious threats of arrest for the legitimate practice of his profession and for denouncing the lack of transparency in the Venezuelan judicial system.
Two lawyers, jailed as political prisoners in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, have warned the Iranian government’s disregard of public demands could lead to a “very dark future”.
Amirsalar Davoudi and Mohammadhadi Erfanian Kaseb wrote to the authorities in a letter seen by IranWire.
Davoudi is a human rights lawyer serving a 30-year sentence for “insulting officials” and “propaganda against the regime”.
Defense lawyer Erfanian, who has represented many human rights activists, was imprisoned after speaking to the media about the murder of one of his clients.
In their statement from Evin, the pair wrote: “Following the nationwide and widespread protests which were met with a series of coercive and unacceptable encounters, we draw the attention of the responsible authorities to Articles 27 and 34 of the Constitution.
“We demand the government pays heed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“The government should try to fulfil the reasonable and completely civil demands of the people. Failing to respond effectively to their demands may lead the remaining public trust to vanish, and paint a very dark horizon before our eyes.”
It is reported that as many as 3,000 people may have been detained in Evin Prison during ten days of protests following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini.
The Iranian authorities have responded to the protests with lethal force. At least 76 people are so far known to be killed.
“The government should refrain from making false accusations, and avoid a coercive crackdown,” the lawyers wrote.
The charges against him were confirmed on July 15, 2021, with the Chamber noting that Mr. Gicheru worked together with others to undermine the cases.
Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru died on Monday at his home in Karen, Nairobi. He was aged 50.
Gicheru became a household name in 2020 after charges of alleged bribery of witnesses testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC) were preferred against him at the Hague-based court.
He was accused of bribing and intimidating witnesses in the failed International Criminal Court (ICC) case against President William Ruto.
So who was this man Paul Gicheru?
Paul Gicheru was born in 1972 in Nandi County. He attended Kapsabet Boys High School before proceeding to the University where he secured a law degree after which he proceeded to the Kenya School Law for a post-graduate diploma.
Gicheru began his career at a law firm called Kalya and Company Advocates in Eldoret. He later opened his own law firm – Gicheru and Company Advocates in Eldoret.
On March 31, 2010 , ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber II authorised the Prosecutor to open an investigation into the political violence that rokced Kenya after the 2007-2008 elections.
Later, a warrant of arrest was issued under seal against Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett on 10 March 2015 and unsealed on 10 September 2015
On November 2, 2020, Gicheru surrendered to the authorities of The Netherlands pursuant to the arrest warrant for offences against the administration of justice consisting in corruptly influencing witnesses of the Court.
A day later on November 3, 2020, Paul Gicheru was surrendered to ICC custody after the completion of the necessary national proceedings before making his first court appearance on November 6.
The charges against him were confirmed on July 15, 2021, with the Chamber noting that Mr. Gicheru worked together with others to undermine the cases against William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang.
Gicheru pleaded not guilty to the charges against him with the closing statements from both the prosecution and defence being delivered on June 27, 2022.
The chamber was yet to pronounce its decision on the conviction or acquittal of Gicheru.
Masooda Qazi held her 8-year-old son’s hand tightly as she frantically tried to convey to a group of Dutch soldiers that she was an employee of the U.S. Embassy and was promised transport out of Kabul as it fell to the Taliban last year.
The crowd around Qazi was full of people similarly desperate to escape, and it was growing agitated. People pushed forward outside a security gate near the airport, erasing any space to move. Her son Habib began to panic.
“I can’t breathe anymore,” he said to his father, Hamid ul Rahman Qazi, who had been holding the couple’s younger son — Hasib, 4 — above the crowd on his shoulders for hours.
“We need to go back,” Hamid told his wife.
“No. Stay,” she said. “We will get success.”
More than a year later, the young family has resettled in the U.S. after escaping Afghanistan on a Dutch military plane, then waiting in a Dutch refugee camp for 10 months before finally receiving special U.S. immigrant visas.
They arrived in San Diego in June, Masooda had a baby girl in July, and they moved into their own apartment in August with the help of a refugee assistance program.
After so much turmoil and trauma, the young couple — who were successful lawyers in Afghanistan — said they finally feel safe.
But their quest for success isn’t over.
With help from others in the legal field in California — including judges, lawyers, law clerks and law professors — they hope to find their way back into their profession, which not only brought them together in Kabul but also provided them work they loved and a happy life before it all collapsed.
More than 85,000 Afghan nationals have journeyed to the U.S. since the fall of Kabul, many through similar airport evacuations that same harrowing week in August 2021 — an effort the Biden administration dubbed Operation Allies Welcome. Many fled not only their country, homes, friends and loved ones, but also their established careers.
Those who have arrived on special immigrant visas such as the Qazis were largely admitted on the basis that they or one of their immediate family members “took significant risks to support [U.S.] military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan,” according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Many had held coveted positions in government agencies and international nonprofits. And some, like the Qazis, were deeply involved in building the former Afghan government’s legal and judicial systems. They fought to ensure the rule of law in court, worked as or helped train prosecutors and judges, and drafted legislation to root out corruption and better protect the rights of women.
Now in the U.S., those same professionals desperately need and want jobs, with some resettlement programs providing housing for only a few months. But the hurdles to reentering their old fields are substantial. Beyond the challenges of working in a new language, those in professions that require advanced degrees or other qualifications — such as lawyers — face even greater barriers.
Masooda and Hamid said they understand all that, but they are not deterred. After all, they had fought their way to the top of their field once before in Kabul, they told The Times in a recent interview, where barriers — especially for a woman — were also imposing.
“Always Masooda is saying, ‘We can do it again,’” Hamid said. “And I’m sure we can.”
Andrew Warren, a Democrat, sued Florida governor for suspension after saying he would not enforce new 15-week abortion law
A Florida prosecutor suspended by Ron DeSantis for defying a new 15-week abortion law says a federal judge’s decision to send his reinstatement appeal to trial means a reckoning is coming for the state’s Republican governor.
Andrew Warren, a Democrat, was removed as Hillsborough county state attorney on 4 August after saying he would not enforce the abortion ban or prosecute providers of gender transition treatment for young people.
DeSantis cited Warren’s alleged “woke agenda” in reasons for his decision.
At a hearing in Tallahassee on Monday, Judge Robert Hinkle denied motions from DeSantis to dismiss Warren’s lawsuit, and another by Warren seeking an immediate return to office, instead requesting their differences be settled at a trial in the coming weeks.
“The governor now has to answer it to a court of law where facts matter and where you have to tell the truth,” Warren said in an interview with the Guardian.
“It’s a victory for the truth. A federal judge has ruled that the governor has to come into court to explain the reasons behind my suspension, to show that it wasn’t political, to show that it wasn’t in violation of my free speech rights, to show that it wasn’t in violation of the voters’ rights to have the state attorney of their choice.”