The Philippines: Attempted murder of rights lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen



The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) condemns the attempt on the life of its assistant vice president for Visayas, Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen, tonight, March 3, in Iloilo City. Reports stated that two unidentified men stabbed Atty. Guillen in the head and shoulder.

Atty. Guillen serves as counsel in various public interest and human rights cases such as one of the 37 petitions questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. He also represents activists and human rights defenders facing trumped up charges in court including the activists arrested during the police raids in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental in October 2019 and the Tumandoks arrested in Panay in December 2020. On Labor Day last year, he was arrested after responding to the illegal arrest of 42 activists who were protesting the extrajudicial killing of Bayan Muna Iloilo coordinator Jory Porquia.

NUPL calls on authorities to promptly and properly investigate the attempt on the life of Atty. Guillen. Since June 2016, NUPL has recorded at least 54 killings of lawyers and judges that are prima facie related their work. In December 2020, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, NUPL, and various legal groups raised concerns over the increasing and alarming incidents of attacks on lawyers before the Supreme Court.

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers Facebook, 03/03/21


To condemn to the strongest possible terms will never be enough to express our indignation to the evil, barbaric, heinous, and cowardly act perpetrated against Atty. Angelo Karlo (AK) Guillen in the street named after a brave General of the Philippine Revolution, Gen. Luna St. in Iloilo City. Atty. AK was stabbed in the head and back this evening by two men wearing facemasks and caps.

Atty. Guillen is the Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers Panay and is holding a number of political cases, the latest of which is that of the Tumandok charged by trumped-up cases on December 30, 2020.

Atty. Guillen is a peoples’ lawyer who defend the rights of the people, the workers, farmers, indigenous people, and marginalized groups against the weaponization of the law to oppress. He applies his legal knowledge not for gain for himself, but for the benefit of his clients. He stands up for his clients notwithstanding the danger, harassment, and red-tagging against him. The masterminds and conspirators behind this dastardly act may make it appear that this is a petty crime committed using a screw driver by henchmen of evil, but we know better than to be fooled. The attack on Atty. Guillen should be seen in the context of systematic, continuing, and increasing attacks on human rights and human rights defenders. Atty. Guillen has been redtagged for several times just like other peoples’ lawyers and human rights defenders who were tagged as “terrorists” or “communists” and were subsequently attacked and harassed.

For these barbaric acts to happen in a country that calls itself a democracy is beyond shame. Violence has been the front page of news. Just days ago, Julie Catamin, the Barangay Captain of Roosevelt, Tapaz, Capiz, was murdered. Prior to that incident, she was able to reveal in her Facebook post an irregular performance of duty of law enforcers in the operation which killed 9 Tumandoks and arrested 16 others. In the background of this are taxpayer-funded machineries and agencies that baselessly redtag individuals and groups without regard to dark and evil consequences it may produce.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers – Panay Law Students is one with the community in strongly condemning the attack on Atty. Guillen. We call for the immediate investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of the criminals behind the dastardly act committed against Atty. Guillen. We call to stop the attacks to the legal profession and to its members.

The danger is here and it is clear and present.Hold tight, Atty. AK. Your brave clients are waiting for their brave lawyer.

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers – Panay Law Students Facbook, 03/03/21 (TAGALOG)

No photo description available.

India: This is an ‘onslaught’ on freedom of profession, enact Advocates Protection Act: KSBC, AAB condemns murder of Advocate Venkatesh


Karnataka State Bar Council

In a press note, the State Bar Council has expressed its concern over the brutal murder of an advocate on February 27, within the premises of a court.

The Karnataka State Bar Council (KSBC) on Monday condemned the brutal and horrific murder of Advocate Tarihalli Venkatesh, who was killed on February 27 in the JMFC court premises at Hosapete, Vijayanagara district.

In a press note, the KSBC has urged the government to enact a law for the protection of lawyers. The statement further reads that the “Union and State government should take up the issue with all sincerity, failing which the Advocates of the country would take recourse of a country wide strike/agitation.”

Expressing concern over the brutal murder, the Council has urged that there should an independent and impartial judicial inquiry. It has urged the representative members of the Bar Council of India (BCI) from Karnataka to “pressurize” the apex lawyers’ body to take up the matter with the Union government.

The increasing attacks on lawyers in recent years has been pointed out in KSBC’s release. Due to these frequent threats and attacks on the lawyers, advocates are not at all safe anywhere in the country, the Council apprehends.


Egypt: Human rights lawyer Ezzat Ghoneim completes 3 years in pretrial detention


Human Rights lawyer Ezzat Ghoneim [AzzaElGarfTwitter]

Lawyer and human rights defender Ezzat Ghoneim has just completed three years in pretrial detention in Egypt.

Yesterday, the Egyptian Network for Human Rights (ENHR) said that Ezzat had been transferred between police stations and various other places of detention with no legal justification or judicial ruling for his detention.

“The only apparent reason is his defence of the oppressed and political detainees through his work as a lawyer and his keen interest in promoting human rights in Egypt while he was executive director of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms,” the statement said.

Ezzat Ghoneim was arrested in March 2018, forcibly disappeared for three days, before appearing in a video broadcast by the Interior Ministry in which he was accused of “terrorism”.

Before he was arrested, Ghoneim had represented Um Zubeida who was detained after appearing in a BBC documentary on enforced disappearances where she talked about the kidnap, rape and enforced disappearance of her daughter Zubeida Ibrahim.

Egypt: Family of detained lawyer Hoda Abdelmonem say they are not permitted to visit

Ghoneim has been imprisoned on charges of joining a banned group and spreading false news in a punitive measure against his work defending political detainees who were put on trial in state security and military courts.

In September 2018 the Giza Criminal Court ruled that Ghoneim be released but instead he was transferred to Haram Police Station where he signed the exit paperwork but was then forcibly disappeared for five months.

Before his disappearance his family was visiting him regularly at the police station and were told by police officers there that they were waiting for the green light from the National Security Agency before he could be released.

In February 2019 he reappeared in court and was later transported to Giza Prison.

The Egyptian regime has targeted lawyers carrying out human rights work, with the ENHR estimating that there are around 350 lawyers in prison whilst arrest warrants have been issued for a further 100.


Egypt | IAPL Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers | Page 4
Egypt | IAPL Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers | Page 4

Egypt: Letter on the enforced disappearance of Islam Salama



In a letter to the Egyptian authorities, Lawyers for Lawyers expressed concern about the enforced disappearance of attorney at law Islam Salama. Mr. Salama disappeared after a Court ordered his release on bail on 16 January 2021. To date, his whereabouts are unknown.

On 25 May 2020, Mr. Salama was arrested by Egyptian security forces who reportedly refused to present a warrant. After his arrest, Mr. Salama was detained in an undisclosed location for ten days until he was brought before the Supreme State Security Prosecution on 6 June 2020 on the charge of “joining a terrorist group”. On 14 October 2020, Mr Salama was ordered to be released on parole. Yet, after the parole proceedings he disappeared for 45 days. On 30 November 2020, Mr. Salama appeared again when he was brought before a court on the basis of new charges.

Consequently, the Malhalla Criminal Court ordered Mr. Salama’s release on bail on 16 January 2021. However, after the bail was posted and all other (legal) proceedings were completed, Mr. Salama disappeared again, for the third time, while being in custody of the Egyptian authorities. To date, Mr. Salama’s family and his legal counsel do not know where Mr. Salama is held and are not able to contact him.

Lawyers for Lawyers expresses deep concern at the enforced disappearance of Islam Salama and urges the government of Egypt to release Islam Salama and to end all acts of harassment against him.

Click to access EN_HRL_20210222_Egypt_Enforced-disappearance-of-lawyer-Islam-Salama.pdf

Turkey: Urgent action letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on the failure of Turkey to carry out a genuine investigation into the killing of Tahir Elçi


The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (“BHRC”) joins 47 international organisations in a letter to several UN Special Rapporteurs requesting urgent action ahead of the next hearing in the criminal trial of those accused of killing lawyer Tahir Elçi in 2015.

Tahir Elçi was a prominent figure within the international and domestic lawyers’ community. He had practiced law for around 25 years. At the time of his death, he was the President of the Diyarbakir Bar Association. He was well known for having acted for victims in a number of leading cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights concerning the forced evictions of Kurdish villages, enforced disappearances, summary executions, and torture and ill-treatment by the security and/or state-affiliated forces.

As a part of these activities, as the president of Diyarbakir Bar Association, he helped to organise a press conference to draw attention to the damage inflicted on the cultural and historic heritage in the region during the armed clashes. The press conference took place in front of a historic minaret damaged by security operations on the morning of 28 November 2015. During this conference, an armed clash took place between two armed PKK militia members and the police, during which Tahir Elçi was shot dead.

The letter requests the Special Rapporteurs call on the Turkish authorities to ensure:

i. The case is heard by an independent, impartial, and competent court that is capable of establishing the facts and truth around the killing of Mr. Elçi;
ii. All future hearings comply with international standards regarding the right to a fair trial, in which the victims’ rights are also recognised;
iii. The hostile attitude from the court towards the Elçi family and their lawyers and the court’s persistent refusal to follow the rules of procedure and principles of both domestic and international law are not repeated in future hearings;
iv. The lawyers for the Elçi family are given reasonable opportunities to be heard and to make their applications in relation to the procedure and the evidence;


Joint action letter to UN Special Rapporteurs: Tahir Elçi

India: Hyderabad: Advocates concerned over rise in attacks


The protectors of Indian constitution are in for a risk if the physical attacks on them continue to rise. The recent arrest of four persons in connection with an attempt to murder on a city-based advocate highlights the plight of clients at the same time it also showcases the pressure under which an advocate functions.

Since the advocate couple were murdered in Peddapalli, lawyers are in a grip of panic and worry that the clients may take it out on them if cases are lost in courts.

A city-based advocate Karthik pointed out that within a span of 15 days there were three attacks on advocates starting from Vaman Rao, his wife Nagamani, an advocate at Criminal court was attacked and Siddharth Singh was attempted to murder.He noted, “The modus operandi of the attackers who attempted to murder Siddharth Singh proves that the client was harassed by the advocate.

Whether it is completely correct or not will be proved later, but such attacks will pave the way for clients to be more aggressive towards advocates if their cases are not resolved on time and people will start losing faith in judiciary.


China: Joint statement on the continuous house arrest of Jiang Tianyong


Joint statement on the continuous house arrest of Jiang Tianyong

Two years ago, on the 28th of February 2019, Chinese lawyer Jiang Tianyong was officially released from prison after serving a two-year prison sentence for ‘inciting subversion of state power’. However, since his release, Mr Jiang has been kept under strict house arrest, which means that he remains de facto detained. This is an example of ‘Non-Release Release’, a practice that is increasingly used by Chinese authorities as a way to continue the detention of lawyers and activists after their release from formal detention in prison. Lawyers for Lawyers and China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group are concerned about the continuous house arrest of Mr. Jiang.

Until his arrest, Mr Jiang had worked as a Chinese human rights lawyer, taking on so-called ‘sensitive’ cases since 2004. He defended fellow lawyers and human rights defenders, including Chen Guangcheng and Gao Zhisheng; defended the rights of a large number of Falun Gong practitioners and petitioners who suffered from various injustices; and documented cases of forced labour in coalmines. Mr Jiang also actively involved in organising support for the families of detained lawyers after the ‘709 Crackdown’ in 2015.

On 22 August 2017, Mr Jiang was convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and three years’ deprivation of political rights by the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court for the offence of ‘inciting subversion of state power’. Mr Jiang’s family-appointed defence lawyer did not receive notice of the trial. During his time in prison, Mr Jiang was refused visits from his family for certain periods of time, and was regularly forced to take medicine that affected his memory and caused physical weakness. The authorities’ failure to provide Mr Jiang with appropriate medical care inflicted enduring health problems on him.

Mr Jiang has hitherto been placed under a strict house arrest since his release from prison exactly two years ago today. He is under continuous police and camera surveillance, and is not allowed to leave the premise without a police escort. He is not allowed to leave the People’s Republic of China, which means that he has been unable to reunite with his family living in the United States. His parents and younger sister, who live in the People’s Republic of China, are also under surveillance and are harassed by the authorities. People that visit Mr Jiang at his house are confronted by the authorities, who require the visitors to produce identification and frequently interrogate them.


India: Advocate murdered on court premises in Hosapete


Tarihalli Venkatesh. Credit: Special arrangement.

An advocate who was associated with the Congress was murdered in a broad daylight on the JMFC court premises in Hosapete, Vijayanagara district, on Saturday. He was identified as Tarihalli Venkatesh (48).

As per the accounts of the people in the court, the advocate was doing some work sitting in a chair when he was attacked by his relative, Manoj, with a sword. He collapsed and died on the spot after he bled heavily.

The incident created panic among the people in the court and a large number of people gathered within a few minutes. The police took the accused into custody and, after dispersing the crowd, sent the body for post-mortem. Family dispute was said to be the reason behind the attack.

Tunisia: L’avocat arrêté pour suspicion de liens avec le terrorisme maintenu en détention


Makhlouf prend la défense de l'avocat placé en détention pour suspicion de  lien avec le terrorisme - Kapitalis

Tunis : L’avocat arrêté pour suspicion de liens avec le terrorisme maintenu en détention

Makhlouf prend la défense de l’avocat placé en détention pour suspicion de lien avec le terrorisme

Belarus: Defense Lawyer Of Belarusian Political Prisoners: If Not Me Then Who?



Uladzimir Sozonchuk was disbarred, but he remained a person of principles.

The Disciplinary Commission of Minsk City Bar Association decided to deprive Uladzimir Sozonchuk, the lawyer who had taken up the defence of Belsat journalist Katsyaryna Andreyeva, blogger Dzmitry Kazlou (Grey Cat) and one of the leaders of the Belarusian opposition Mikalai Statkevich, of his license.

In an interview with Charter97, Uladzimir Sozonchuk says he does not regret his decision to defend political prisoners:

– As they say: who else if not me? It sounds a little pompous, but I can say it. On the other hand, I defended presidential candidate Dzmitry Uss in 2010. He was tried together with Statkevich. For some reason, they did not disbar me then.


– How dangerous is it for a lawyer to work with cases of political prisoners?

– Several days ago, I asked my colleague, Lyudmila Siarheeuna Kazak, “Could you imagine when you agreed to defend Maryia Kalesnikava that it would be disbarred in the end?” Lyudmila is a smart, beautiful woman. She has three children. I’m fine and have little time left before retirement. She did not answer my question specifically.

In Belarus, a lawyer who takes on the responsibility of defending political prisoners risks to be disbarred. I still have my license, but there is no piece of hope to keep it after the appeal.

There is little threat of it if one keeps silent, agree, and at the end of the investigation write some complaints, which aren’t satisfied. If one tries to seek justice, cooperate with the media to inform people, it is clear how it ends.

– In particular, you have taken up the cases of Katsyaryna Andreyeva, Dzmitry Kazlou and Mikalai Statkevich. What could you say about these people?

– Yesterday, I said to the second lawyer [Siarhei Zikratski – ed.] of Katya: “Seryozha, send my greetings and support. Tell her that I am proud to meet such a smart, beautiful, nice girl, a worthy citizen of the Republic of Belarus”. I can say the same about my other clients, Mikalai Statkevich and Dzmitry Kazlou.

– Why do the authorities fight with lawyers?

– The authorities are fighting with everyone. Lawyers are as decent specialists as medical professionals, journalists, and two Katsyaryna. The authorities do their best to muzzle the voice of those who try to educate people and fight against the system.