Colombia: Rights lawyer María Alejandra Garzón Mora subjected to serious threats, cyber-attacks, surveillance and verbal attacks

29/06/22

Maria Alejandra Garzón Mora is a human rights lawyer and member of the Asociación Red de Defensores y Defensoras, DH ColombiaDH Colombia aims to promote, disseminate, protect and defend human and peoples’ rights. It is an interdisciplinary group that provides comprehensive defence for victims of human rights violations, both individually and collectively. 

The Observatory has received information about numerous threats to the lawyer María Alejandra Garzón Mora from September 2020 to date, with a higher frequency in 2021. The lawyer is the victim of various attacks: cyber-attacks, constant surveillance, as well as verbal attacks.  The threats received are directly aimed at her work as a legal representative of the victims of the protests that took place in Colombia as part of the national strike in April 2021.  

The lawyer is subject to constant monitoring and surveillance, both by police officers and by strangers near her home and office.  In addition, María Alejandra is subject to cyber-attacks, telecommunications breakdowns and interception of calls with clients, colleagues and family members. The incidents occur most often in the context of hearings or crucial dates in cases in which she represents interests as a lawyer. These attacks constitute a serious breach of professional secrecy and impede the free and independent exercise of the profession. 

Due to her high level of risk and insecurity, Alejandra Garzón began to benefit from the protection regime granted by the Investigation and Indictment Unit (hereinafter, UIA), an entity belonging to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), in March 2021.  Faced with the UIA’s decision to reduce the protection measures in February 2022, the lawyer filed a guardianship application with the JEP. The guardianship ruling SRT-ST-088/2022 of 16 May recognised the extraordinary risk suffered by the lawyer and invited the UIA to reassess the lawyer’s status within two months. Until the new risk assessment is carried out, the protective measures initially adopted will be maintained.   

[…]

(ESPANOL)

https://www.abogacia.es/actualidad/noticias/el-observatorio-de-la-abogacia-en-riesgo-denuncia-el-acoso-a-abogadas-colombianas/

https://www.comisiondelaverdad.co/hay-futuro-si-hay-verdad

(FRANCAIS)

Joint statement: 10 years since the unjust arrest of four lawyers at the UAE 94 trial

30/06/22

This year marks ten years since the arrest of four lawyers at the mass “UAE 94” trial that saw the unjust imprisonment of dozens of government critics and reform activists in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Having completed their prison sentences, these lawyers are set to be released either this year or next year. However, Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) and the International Campaign for Freedom in the United Arab Emirates (ICFUAE) are concerned that the lawyers might be kept in detention centres instead under a vaguely worded counterterrorism law.

In July 2013, a group of 69 lawyers, human rights defenders and intellectuals were sentenced to 10 years in prison for plotting to overthrow the government. This event is referred to as the “UAE 94” trial. Among those prosecuted in this mass unfair trial are four UAE lawyers:

Dr. Al-Roken is well-known for defending victims of human rights violations in the UAE. He defended some members of the “UAE 5”, five individuals sentenced to two to three years’ imprisonment in 2012 for having expressed criticism of government policies. In recognition of his courageous human rights work, Dr. Al-Roken was shortlisted as a finalist for the 2017 Lawyers for Lawyers Award.

Al-Roken was arrested on 17 July 2012, after calling for political reforms in the country and signing an online petition calling for democratic reforms in March 2011. On 2 July 2013, Dr. Al-Roken was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with additional administrative control measures and was prohibited from practicing his profession as a lawyer. Following his arrest, Dr. Al-Roken was detained in solitary confinement at an undisclosed location for eight months, without access to his lawyer and his family.

Dr. Mohamed al-Mansoori is a prominent lawyer working on human rights issues and was the former head of the United Arab Emirates Jurists’ Association board, which was dissolved by the authorities in 2011. He was arrested on 16 July 2012 after signing an online petition calling for democratic reforms. On 2 July 2013, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Dr. Al-Mansoori was not allowed to contact his family for over a year.

[…]

Joint oral statement to Human Rights Council on Belarus

28/06/22

On 28 June, Lawyers for Lawyers, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada delivered an oral statement on Belarus during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus. The interactive dialogue took place during the 50th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The statement reads as follows:

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, Lawyers for Lawyers, and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada remain alarmed at the findings in the Special Rapporteur’s report, including the growing number of arbitrary arrests and detentions on politically motivated grounds.  

As of 22 June, 66 Belarusian lawyers have been persecuted since the 2020 elections, including through disbarment, detention, and prosecution. Recent examples include the detention of Vitaliy Braginets, Alexander Danilevich, and Anastasia Lazarenko. On 23 May, Maksim Znak was added to the Belarusian State Security Committee’s “list of terrorists”. This creates a chilling effect on other legal professionals, restricting human rights defenders’ and political opponents’ right to access independent, effective legal representation.

We also note with concern the further deterioration of the independence of the judiciary, used by the authorities “as repressive instruments to silence dissent”. This, together with ongoing attacks against lawyers, undermines justice and perpetuates a culture of impunity.

Finally, we condemn recent amendments to the Criminal Code that expand the application of the death penalty in Belarus.

We urge this Council to take all possible actions to ensure accountability for abuses and to prevent further deterioration of the situation, and to ensure the renewal the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.

[…]

https://www.omct.org/en/resources/statements/belarus-persecution-of-dissenting-voices-continues

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/06/belarus-engulfed-fear-systematic-violations-and-impunity-persist-un-expert

https://www.euronews.com/2022/06/28/uk-belarus-politics

Turkey: Lawyer testifies to being beaten by Turkish troops in military headquarters

28/06/22

Lawyer Harika Günay Karataş says that the military headquarters where the villagers and lawyers were beaten is notorious for systematic torture as is the commander in charge who has previously ordered torture against Kurds.

A lawyer who was subjected to violence at a gendarmerie (a military force with law enforcement duties among the civilian population) headquarters in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority city of Yüksekova (Gever) on Sunday said that this was the second time within a year lawyers have been subjected to violence on instructions by the same gendarmerie officer, and that the headquarters the officer was in command of already had a reputation for systematic torture.

Lawyer Harika Günay Karataş, the branch co-chair of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD), filed a criminal complaint against the troops who harassed her and dragged her on the ground, and beat her colleague Fırat İke, when the two came to the gendarmerie headquarters to provide legal services for villagers who were detained during a military operation.

Speaking to Mezopotamya News Agency, she explained what happened:

“Villagers who were out in the field to cut grass were taken into custody. When we heard about it, I went to the gendarmerie headquarters with Fırat İke. We were told that the villagers in custody were not actually under arrest, and that they merely came to provide information; but that was legally an arrest, anyway. When we said that we wanted to talk to the villagers, one was brought into the room even as he was subjected to a beating. When we tried to intervene, we were treated in just the same way.”

She added:

“The gendarmerie headquarters in question is already famous for practices of torture. The gendarmerie officer Bayram Konak, who gave instructions for torture in the recent incident, had given similar instructions in another incident last August to have a colleague of mine beaten, and for the detained villagers to be subjected to torture.”

[…]

(TURKCE)

https://ozgurdenizli.com/tag/ohd-hakkari-subesi-esbaskani-harika-gunay-karatas/

https://www.ozgurpolitika.com/haberi-kurtleri-avukatsiz-birakmak-istiyorlar-164615/

Russian Lawyer Detained After Criticizing Ukraine Shopping-Mall Strike

28/06/22

The chairman of the attorneys chamber in Russia’s Udmurtia region, Dmitry Talantov, has been detained after he criticized the government and military forces over a deadly strike on a shopping mall in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk.

Talantov wrote on Facebook that he was detained on June 28 and taken handcuffed to the Investigative Committee for questioning.

The Society of Russian Lawyers wrote on Telegram that Talantov was detained as he was trying to fly to Moscow.

No official reason has been given for Talantov’s detention.

On June 27, when news of the deadly missile attack broke, Talantov condemned the strike, calling the Russian authorities “scumbags.”

Talantov also is the lawyer for Ivan Safronov, a prominent former Russian journalist who is on trial in Moscow on a high-treason charge widely considered to be politically motivated.

At least 18 people died in the missile strike in Kremenchuk, which leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) called “a war crime.”

[…]

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-lawyer-criticism-ukraine-war/31919491.html#0_8_10089_8766_2710_241837052

https://novayagazeta.eu/articles/2022/06/28/safronovs-lawyer-dmitry-talantov-detained-in-udmurtia-news

UK: Barristers walk out of courts in strike over pay

27/06/22

Barristers are on strike across England and Wales in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

Eight out of 10 cases at London’s Old Bailey were disrupted by the walkout, barristers outside the court said.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said the strikes will “delay justice”, as courts already face a backlog of 58,000 cases.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, deputy chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said a proposed 15% pay rise would not happen until the end of next year.

By then, she told the BBC, it would be too late to help and would not do enough to stem the flow of junior barristers leaving the bar.

Criminal barristers – who represent people in court – have been striking over legal aid payments.

Under the legal aid system, the government pays for barristers to ensure suspects who can’t afford lawyers are properly advised and represented.

The government sets pay rates for barristers doing legal aid work.

Dozens of barristers have been rallying outside the Old Bailey in their robes and wigs, as two murder trials at the court – one involving a teenage suspect – were unable to get under way.

[…]

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-61946038

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2022/jun/27/criminal-barristers-begin-strike-in-row-over-legal-aid-fees

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-06-27/trial-lawyers-walkout-across-uk-over-government-funding

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/barristers-strike-disrupt-courts-legal-aid-funding-b2110005.html

Criminal bar strike in pics 📸

https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/legal-aid/bar-strike-what-you-need-to-know

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2022/jun/20/criminal-barristers-vote-strike-legal-aid-england-wales-crown-courts

Nigeria: Female Lawyer Odera Onumajulu Shot By Kidnappers Dies After Battling For Survival For One-month

25/06/22

A female lawyer, who was shot by her abductors in Owerri, Imo State capital on May 22, has passed on after battling for her life for one month.

The victim Odera Onumajulu was also a customary court inspector. She died on Wednesday.

Onumajulu was kidnapped in front of her house and shot before she was released.

The Nigeria Bar Association, Owerri branch, reacted to the development through its secretary Chinedu Agu on Thursday. The NBA said it was saddened by the death of the female lawyer.

“Before the ugly incident, Onumajulu was a customary court inspector attached to the Customary Court of Appeal and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2016.

“It is very sad how another colleague has become a victim in the ravaging insecurity in Imo,”
 Agu said.

https://www.gistmania.com/talk/topic,539235.0.html

https://www.thenigerianvoice.com/news/309535/imo-state-court-inspector-dies-after-being-shot-by-kidnapper.html

https://dailypost.ng/2022/06/23/gunmen-abduct-doctor-lawyer-five-others-in-kogi/

Iran: Rights lawyer returned to prison to ‘continue serving his sentence’

26/06/22

Amirsalar Davoodi, a human rights activist and lawyer who was temporarily released from prison in June last year after about 2 years and 7 months in prison, was returned to prison on Sunday.

Mr. Davoodi’s wife, Tannaz Kolahchian, tweeted that the human rights lawyer had been sent back to prison “to continue serving his sentence.”

Amirsalar Davoudi was arrested on November 20, 2018, by security agents in his law office.

He learned on May 28, 2019that Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran had sentenced him to a total of 30 years imprisonment and 111 lashes, on account of six charges including “insulting the Supreme Leader”, and “spreading propaganda against the system” and “forming a group with the purpose of disrupting national security” in relation to his human rights work.

After Mr. Davoodi’s appealed the verdict, it was overturned by the Supreme Court, however, Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court upheld his 30-year prison sentence in August last year.

He was released on bail from Rajaie Shahr prison in Alborz province on 13 June 2021.

His temporary release was followed by the decision of Branch 41 of the Supreme Court to accept his request for a retrial, due to irregularities in the legal process of his trial.

https://www.omct.org/en/resources/statements/iran-five-human-rights-defenders-sentenced-to-prison-for-denouncing-covid-19-mismanagement

https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements/2022/06/presentation-secretary-generals-report-situation-human-rights-islamic-republic

https://www.voanews.com/a/un-lambasts-iran-s-increasing-use-of-executions/6628221.html

https://www.jpost.com/international/article-710136

https://ir.voanews.com/a/amirsalar-davoodi-prisoner-lawyer-iran/6633627.html (FARSI)

https://iranwire.com/fa/news-1/105186-%D9%85%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%AF-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%86%DA%98%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D9%88-%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%88%D8%AF%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D8%AD%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%AD%D8%A8%D8%B3-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%B2%D9%86%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%AA%D9%86%D8%AF

Belgium/France: Brussels Bar Association launches space to report Ukraine war crimes

23/06/22

A reception centre for victims of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was inaugurated on 22 June on the grounds of the Brussels Bar Association, next to the capital’s iconic Palais de Justice.

The centre will offer legal support to victims of the war in Ukraine, both with Belgian and Ukrainian lawyers, with the aim of compiling reports of war crimes for future use in a criminal trial against Russian troops on their proxies in Ukraine.

The Brussels Bar, supported by the Institute for Human Rights, Amnesty International, and Belgium-based Ukraine NGO Promote Ukraine, will use the bar to take statements from victims every Tuesday and Thursday.

The facility will be available to Ukrainian refugees located in Belgium who have been direct or indirect victims of crimes committed within the integral territory of Ukraine, as well as to those who have witnessed them.

[…]

https://www.brusselstimes.com/243261/brussels-bar-association-launches-space-to-report-ukraine-war-crimes

https://en.unba.org.ua/activity/news/7432-unba-reports-on-international-charitable-assistance.html

https://en.unba.org.ua/

https://unba.org.ua/news/7483-ssve-rekomendue-sprostiti-viznannya-kvalifikacii-ukrains-kih-advokativ-u-evropi.html (UKRAINIAN)

https://unba.org.ua/news/7482-unba-nextgen-priednavsya-do-mizhnarodnoi-asociacii-molodih-yuristiv.html

https://www.facebook.com/events/3280671742253121?ref=newsfeed

https://unba.org.ua/news/7469-opikuns-ka-rada-nadala-100-tisyach-griven-druzhini-zagiblogo-advokata-denisa-gordeeva.html

(FRANCAIS)

Second Chinese rights activist Ding Jiaxi stands trial on state subversion charges in secret proceeding

24/06/22

  • No family or supporters were in court as prominent civil rights leader went on trial in Shandong province on Friday
  • A decade ago Ding, an engineer turned lawyer, joined Xu Zhiyong’s cause to promote the New Citizens’ Movement

Ding Jiaxi, one of China’s most prominent civil rights leaders, went on trial behind closed doors on Friday on charges of state subversion.

His trial was held without any of his family or supporters present, at the Linshu County People’s Court in Shandong province, eastern China.

Ding’s lawyers could not be reached for comment. The legal representatives had been ordered to sign confidentiality agreements forbidding them from speaking to the media or risk severe consequences, according to Luo Shengchun, Ding’s wife.

“[Ding’s] relatives in the mainland are being closely watched and guarded, [they] cannot leave their homes,” said Luo, who lives in the United States.

Ding, 54 – who was rounded up with other activists including 49-year-old Xu Zhiyong – was part of the New Citizens’ Movement pushing for political change such as constitutionalism while keeping existing political structures.

Ding has long been a civil rights activist, making him a frequent target of the authorities. China has in recent years focused on suppressing organised political activism in all forms, including moderate dissidents.

Ding and Xu have been held behind bars for more than two years. They were arrested months apart after attending an activist gathering in Xiamen, in southeastern Fujian province, in December 2019.

According to an indictment issued by the municipal prosecutor’s office in Linyi last year, Ding was charged with subverting state power for leading a “citizens’ movement” together with Xu. Under the Chinese criminal code, the charge of subverting state power can carry a sentence of up to life in prison.

The two are charged with organising “secret meetings” with the aim of overthrowing the state, gathering a community of individuals to make an “illegal” documentary, establishing websites and publishing subversive content.

By 2012, Ding, an engineer turned lawyer who was successful in both careers, had joined Xu’s cause to promote the New Citizens’ Movement. They campaigned against corruption and the death penalty while also advocating for the education rights of migrant workers’ children and encouraging Chinese people to exercise their rights as enshrined in the constitution.

[…]

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/3182920/second-chinese-rights-activist-ding-jiaxi-stands-trial-state-subversion

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/06/24/china-rule-of-law-activists-trial/

https://www.9news.com.au/world/xi-jinping-not-smart-enough-activist-secret-trial-xu-zhiyong-communist-party/c84717bf-2df3-4279-b881-6b7adaca4465

https://www.reuters.com/world/china/two-chinese-rights-lawyers-face-trial-state-subversion-2022-06-22/

https://www.independent.co.uk/independentpremium/world/china-human-rights-lawyers-trial-subversion-b2107054.html

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/xuzhiyong-trial-06222022144357.html

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/6/22/two-chinese-activists-on-trial-this-week-for-civil-society-summit

https://www.voanews.com/a/hong-kong-nears-bottom-in-new-human-rights-survey-/6631158.html

(ESPANOL)