Burma: Ko Ni supporters criticise trial of accused

June 23, 2017

Frontier Myanmar

The chief suspect in the assassination of lawyer U Ko Ni remains at large, while supporters of the late National League for Democracy adviser have criticised the trial of those suspects who have been arrested.

Police have so far detained four men in connection with the brazen killing, which took place at Yangon International Airport on January 29, but U Aung Win Khaing, who police believe was the main figure behind the operation, has not been arrested. Media reports suggest he is in hiding around Nay Pyi Taw but authorities say they have not yet been able to locate him.

“The most important thing in this case is to find Aung Win Khaing,” said lawyer U Nay La, who told reporters he was supporting Ko Ni’s family throughout the trial. “In my personal view, the entire testimony is not sufficient,” he said in relation to the trial of the four suspects, the latest hearing of which took place at Insein court on Friday.

Nay La believes the key to finding Aung Win Khaing is identifying a driver who, he said, drove the suspect to Nay Pyi Taw on January 30, the day after the killing.

“I think that the driver should be examined in further sessions,” he said.



Vietnam: New Law Threatens Right to a Defense

June 21, 2017


Vietnam should immediately repeal a provision in its revised penal code that would hold lawyers criminally responsible for not reporting clients to the authorities for a number of crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. The revised code also contains a number of changes heightening criminal penalties against criticism of the government or Vietnam’s one-party state.

“Requiring lawyers to violate lawyer-client confidentiality will mean that lawyers become agents of the state and clients won’t have any reason to trust their lawyers,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Vietnam considers any criticism or opposition to the government or Communist Party to be a ‘national security’ matter – this will undermine any possibility of real legal defense in such cases.”

On June 20, 2017, the Vietnamese National Assembly passed a revised penal code that will come into effect on January 1, 2018. Article 19, section 3 of the revised penal code states that, “[When] the person who does not report [on people] is a defender, he/she is not held criminally accountable in accordance with clause 1 of this article, except for not reporting on national security crimes or other especially serious crimes which the person he/she is defending is preparing to carry out, is carrying out, or has carried out and the defender clearly knows about it while carrying out his/her defense duty.”

Many Vietnamese lawyers publicly voiced their concerns about this new requirement. On June 12, the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association submitted a letter to the National Assembly urging it to drop the clause. According to the letter, the new clause conflicts with the revised Criminal Procedure Code and the Law on Lawyers, which requires legal defenders to keep information about their cases confidential. The letter states that this new clause is “a step back from the 1999 Penal Code.”



South Korea: Famed ex-human rights lawyer acquitted of pro-communist charges

June 22, 2017

This file photo, taken on Sept. 7, 2015, shows Hahn Seung-hun, former human rights lawyer and current chair professor at Chunbok National University, making a speech at an event in South Jeolla Province, southwest of Seoul. (Yonhap)

A former human rights lawyer convicted of violating an anti-communist law more than four decades ago was exonerated by a Seoul court on Thursday.

The Seoul Central District Court cleared Hahn Seung-hun, chair professor of Chunbok National University, of charges that he wrote a piece in a magazine in the early 70s that sympathized with the North Korean regime and its propaganda.

The court said Hahn’s testimony was not admissible as it was written without being given a chance to seek legal counseling.

It also found that there was no mention in the article that indicated he had advocated for the North Korean regime or called for the abolition of the National Security Law.

In 1972, Hahn published a commentary in which he lamented the death of an opposition lawmaker, Kim Kyu-nam, who was executed that year for carrying out anti-state activities in Europe.

The prosecution indicted Hahn three years later for what it called “praising the traitor’s activities.” He was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison by a lower court but was released later when a higher court suspended his sentence. Hahn served nine months and lost his license to practice law for eight years.

Hahn, now 83, requested a retrial after the Supreme Court posthumously acquitted Kim in 2015.

Hahn is known for his relentless devotion to the protection of those who faced political persecution under the dictatorial Park Chung-hee government. He served as the head of the Board of Audit and Inspection during the Kim Dae-jung government in 1998-1999.


India: Arrested ex-judge Karnan brought to Kolkata, taken to Presidency jail

June 21, 2017

Image result for justice karnan

Arrested former Calcutta High Court judge CS Karnan was today brought here from Chennai and taken to the Presidency correctional home (jail).

A team of state CID officers brought him by an Air India flight, a senior police officer said.

Karnan, who had been evading arrest since the May 9 Supreme Court order awarding a six-month jail term, was arrested last night by a team of West Bengal CID from a private resort at Malumichampatti, about six km from Coimbatore, where he was “hiding” for the past few days.

“His medical tests were completed at the airport and he was taken straightaway to the jail”, the officer said.

Tight security arrangements were made at the airport where senior police officers, including Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar, were present.

The former high court judge was brought to Chennai from Coimbatore by a private airline past midnight yesterday and later accommodated in the retiring room in the airport complex amid tight security.




Justice Karnan taken to hospital for another round of tests

Justice Karnan case highlights needs for protecting integrity of judiciary





UK: SRA prosecution was ‘political game’ to attack human rights – Day

June 22, 2017

Leigh Day senior partner Martyn Day has suggested his prosecution by the Solicitors Regulation Authority was part of a ‘bigger picture of a political game’ aimed at muzzling human rights defenders.

Martyn day

Martyn Day


Day, along with his firm and solicitors Sapna Malik and Anna Crowther, was cleared earlier this month of 19 allegations brought by the SRA. The tribunal was the longest of its kind, lasting seven weeks, and is estimated to have cost at least £9m.

During the hearing, correspondence between the SRA and the government was disclosed, including letters exchanged between defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon and SRA’s chief executive. Day says the extent to which the government influenced the prosecution was unclear, but he maintains there was a ‘very strong political element’ to the case.

‘We always felt very strongly that the Ministry of Defence in particular, but all the way up to the prime minister, him and then herself, they had a very big political battle to fight attacking the Human Rights Act, attacking human rights lawyers and we were the right people at the right time as far as they were concerned, Day told the Gazette. ‘This all became a part of that bigger picture of a political game.’

Day, in his first interview since the verdict, admitted that the firm made mistakes in failing to spot the significance of documents, and he stressed it will be more cautious in future, without affecting the nature of the work it does. The firm will also review the training and guidance given to lawyers in relation to document handling.

He thanked colleagues in the profession for their messages of goodwill and said there was a sense of the wider importance of the case.

‘I have had messages not just from human rights lawyers in the UK but abroad: people saying they would be really worried that the atmosphere is changing about lawyers operating in the human rights field internationally and that they have been delighted that we have been able to successfully bat off these allegations,’ the 60-year-old added. ‘I think it has been seen as being a major case not just in this country but internationally.’

The SRA has said it will consider whether to appeal the tribunal decision once the written judgment is published in August. The issue of costs will also be considered after that date.





UN/ICJ: UN Human Rights Council adopts resolutions on independence of judges & lawyers

June 22, 2017

The ICJ welcomes the adoption today, by consensus, of two UN Human Rights Council resolutions on the independence of judges & lawyers.

The Human Rights Council adopted the biannual resolution on independence of judges and lawyers, including a number of new elements on the theme of independence of lawyers and the legal profession. In particular, the resolution highlights the ongoing threats against and interference with the independence of lawyers and the ability of lawyers to fulfil their professional functions, including in relation to human rights.

The resolution reaffirms and builds on the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

The Human Rights Council also unanimously renewed the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers for a further period of three years.

The unofficial text of the two resolutions are available in PDF format below:


Pakistan: prominent Human Rights Defender Asma Jahangir threatened

June 22, 2017

Pakistani authorities need to ensure a prompt, impartial and effective investigation into a barrage of assaults and threats against lawyers in the premises of the Lahore High Court, the ICJ, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today.

The Government needs to defend the rule of law and prosecute those responsible for any criminal conduct.

On 20 June, during proceedings of a case involving the alleged abduction and subsequent “disappearance” of a 26-year old woman and her two-year old son, supporters of the accused, a prominent lawyer, physically assaulted the complainant’s counsel Shabbir Hussain and Usama Malik, and made abusive remarks and threats against another member of the complainant’s legal team, Noor Ejaz Chaudhry.

The attackers were mostly lawyers and members of the local bar association.

The attackers also made abusive and threatening remarks against Asma Jahangir (photo), a notable human rights lawyer, Honorary Commissioner of the ICJ, and former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

Asma Jahangir was not present in the court but was represented by her legal team comprising of Shabbir Hussain, Usama Malik, Mian Liaquat Ali and Noor Ejaz Chaudhry.

“The legal profession is one of the pillars of the administration of justice. It is deeply worrying that instead of discharging their responsibility to uphold the rule of law, certain lawyers would resort to threats and violence in a clear attempt to obstruct justice,” said Ian Seiderman, ICJ’s Legal and Policy Director.