Sudan: Darfur lawyers decry detentions in Sudan


The head of Sudan’s No to Oppression of Women initiative, Amira Osman, who has been detained (File photo: Supplied)

The Darfur Bar Association and its partners condemned the detention of Badreldin Siddig, lawyer and member of the resistance committee active in the Sheikh Abu Zeid neighbourhood adjacent to the Libya Market in Omdurman, and Abdelmajeed Arbab, Coordinator of the Libya Market Unit, and other activists.

In a statement yesterday, the lawyers also condemned the detention of nine medical staff members of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Khartoum on Monday. The DBA described the detention campaign as “malicious and unjust”, and holds the military regime fully responsible for any harm or damage inflicted on them.

The authorities in Kadugli, South Kordofan, detained Azahir Mohamed on January 19 for publishing an article on her Facebook account about the army’s recruitment of minors in Kadugli, before releasing her on bail four days later.

She is one of the activists in South Kordofan who are circulating information on social media that the 14th Infantry Division command in Kadugli recruited hundreds of minors.


China: Concerns about harassment Song Yusheng, Wang Yu and Xie Yang


Concerns about harassment Song Yusheng, Wang Yu and Xie Yang

Lawyers for Lawyers has learned that Chinese lawyers Xie Yang, Wang Yu and Song Yusheng have been detained, disbarred or harassed in January 2022. In a statement we express concern about the recents acts of harassment against the lawyers.

Beijing-based lawyer Song Yusheng was summoned to a disbarment hearing in Beijing on 11 January 2022. Song Yusheng defended human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng in 2018, and was until recently engaged in the defence of (some of the) 12 Hong Kong citizens that were arrested at sea whilst trying to flee to Taiwan after their involvement in protests against the National Security Law in Hong Kong. According to news reports, he faces disciplinary action for his speech in defence of his client(s). Mr. Song is the fifth lawyer who faces disciplinary sanctions after involvement with the case of the 12 Hong Kong citizens.

Beijing lawyer Wang Yu, a victim of the ‘709-crackdown’ has not only lost her license to practice law in November 2020, she is also forbidden from applying for a passport and traveling overseas. After her disbarment she continued handling legal cases and giving legal advice as a “citizen agent”. It has been reported she was publicly assaulted outside a court house on 13 January 2022 because of a case she was handling in Suzhou. The police have reportedly failed to make a report or to seek out surveillance camera footage of the assault. This comes after Wang Yu went missing for a week in March 2021 after being given an International Women’s Day Award by the United States government.

Furthermore, according to the information received, human rights lawyer Xie Yang was detained by national security police on 11 January 2022 for “inciting subversion of state power” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, often used as catch-all charges to detain lawyers and human rights activists in China. According to his wife, who lives in the United States, his phone was operational but calls were forwarded to voicemail. Xie Yang was first detained in Changsha No. 1 Detention Centre, but his current whereabouts could not be determined with certainty. Xie Yang had been detained previously after being targeted during the ‘709-crackdown’ and lost his license to practice law in 2020.


Interview: Attorney Saeeq Shajjan Entreats ‘We Need to Raise Our Voices for Afghanistan’s Embattled Lawyers’


Interview: Attorney Saeeq Shajjan Entreats ‘We Need to Raise Our Voices for Afghanistan’s Embattled Lawyers’

“Lawyers have the courage to speak up. Lawyers are educated. Lawyers are the people that can object to whatever dark policies [the Taliban] would like to implement. [A violent crackdown] is going to start very soon. It’s going to be really, really terrible, even compared to what we have seen so far,” warns Saeeq Shajjan, a corporate attorney from Kabul.

And he would know; Shajjan’s legal career has spanned the entirety of the 20-year-war and was bookended by the fall and subsequent rise of the Taliban.

Having fled to Toronto amid the chaos of the international military withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer, the self-described lawyer in exile has been working tirelessly to help several dozen of his colleagues who remain trapped in Afghanistan, and in many cases, in the Taliban’s crosshairs.

Shajjan earned his law degree from Kabul University in 2003—his education having spanned the end of the old Taliban regime and the start of the war. He then went on to earn LL.M. degrees from Harvard Law School (US) and Savitribail Phule Pune University (India). In 2011, he established his own practice, Shajjan & Associates, a Kabul-based corporate law firm that has received numerous international awards, including several designations as a Band 1 firm by Chambers and Partners. Among the firm’s high-profile international clientele was the Canadian Government, which the firm had represented on a variety of matters for nine years leading up to the Taliban’s resurgence.

JURIST Features Editor Ingrid Burke Friedman interviewed Shajjan about the evolution and devolution of Afghanistan’s legal profession, the plight of his colleagues who remain trapped in Afghanistan, and his hopes that the international community will learn from its mistakes.


Sri Lanka: Letter on the trial and ongoing detention of Hejaaz Hizbullah


Letter on the trial and ongoing detention of Hejaaz Hizbullah

The case against Sri Lankan human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah at the Puttalam High Court will be taken up on 28 January 2022. In the run-up to the hearing, Lawyers for Lawyers has sent a letter to the Sri Lankan authorities to express concern about the trial and ongoing detention of Hejaaz Hizbullah, who is the first lawyer to have been detained under Sri Lanka’s flawed Prevention of Terrorism Act.

On 14 April 2020, Mr. Hizbullah, minority rights advocate and legal counsel for many Muslim victims of human rights violations, was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). No reasons for the arrest were provided to Mr. Hizbullah or his family at the time of the arrest. He has remained in detention ever since. It has been reported that the detention order states that Mr. Hizbullah is being investigated for allegedly “aiding and abetting” the Easter Sunday bombers and for engaging in activities deemed “detrimental to the religious harmony among communities”. On 3 March 2021, Mr. Hizbullah was officially charged with “inciting communal disharmony under” under the PTA, for “advocating national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence” under the ICCPR Act of 2007 and for conspiracy and abetment charges under the Penal Code.

On 10 December 2020, Mr. Hizbullah’s lawyers filed a writ petition before the Court of Appeal seeking release from detention and access to Mr. Hizbullah. The lawyers submitted and the court noted that Mr. Hizbullah did not have access to his lawyers maintaining confidentially since September 2020. In the Petition, Mr. Hizbullah’s lawyers stated that were given access to their client on only four occasions and that the authorities were present on all occasions around the lawyers and Mr. Hizbullah. During the Appeal Court hearing on 15 December 2020, the Attorney General agreed to grant Mr. Hizbullah confidential access to counsel.

According to our information, on 19 November 2021, the bail hearing of Mr. Hizbullah took place at the Puttalam High Court. During this hearing, the judge stated that the High Court does not have the jurisdiction to grant bail under the PTA, and additionally pointed towards an inconsistency between the PTA and the constitution, which should be dealt with on a higher level and the legislative branch of government.


Turkey: Letter to UN for Kurdish politician, ill prisoner Aysel Tuğluk: ‘Take urgent action’


43 bars, law and rights organizations from Turkey and the world have sent a letter to the special rapporteurs and working groups of the United Nations and expressed “grave concern” over “imminent risk to health and life of ill prisoner Aysel Tuğluk.”

Diagnosed with dementia, Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk is still held in the Kocaeli Kandıra Type F Prison despite the medical report of the Kocaeli University concluding that she is not in a state to stay in prison.

In this context, 43 bar associations, law and rights organizations from Turkey and the world have sent a letter to the special rapporteurs and working groups of the United Nations (UN) titled “Urgent Action: Imminent risk to health and life of ill prisoner Aysel Tuğluk.”

In their letter addressed to the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health and the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, the 43 law and rights organizations have expressed their “grave concern over the treatment of the seriously ill prisoner Aysel Tuğluk.”

The letter has explained that after Aysel Tuğluk was diagnosed with dementia, her condition has gotten worse quickly.


France: Des avocats de Pau menacés de mort, un homme a été interpellé


Le tribunal de Pau

Un homme a été arrêté lundi à Pau, soupçonné d’avoir agressé et menacé plusieurs avocats. Le parquet de Pau a souhaité que la réaction soit rapide vue la gravité des faits.

Un avocat de Pau a porté plainte parce qu’il a été agressé et menacé de mort. Cela s’est déroulé le vendredi 21 janvier, dans le centre-ville, rue des cordeliers. L’agresseur présumé a été interpellé lundi matin, il s’est rebellé et un policier a été blessé à la main. L’homme a depuis été pris en charge à l’hôpital psychiatrique de Pau. Une expertise doit déterminer s’il y a altération ou abolition de son discernement. En plus de l’agression dans la rue, il y aurait eu plusieurs mails de menaces envoyés à des avocats, à des magistrats, aux policiers, au parquet.

Des faits rares mais graves

On ne peut pas laisser les avocats se faire insulter comme ça” explique la procureur de Pau, Cécile Gensac. En un sens, même s’il ne s’agit que d’agression et menaces verbales, ce sont des menaces de mort violentes. En l’occurrence, l’avocat visé s’est fait agressé par un de ses anciens clients. C’est un Palois âgé de 35 ans, connu des services de la justice. D’après le parquet, ce dernier éprouverait de la rancœur “pour toute la chaîne judiciaire“.

En effet, il semble que cet homme avait été poursuivi, il avait rétorqué qu’il avait été victime de violences policières. Sauf que l’enquête n’a rien prouvé. L’homme a donc été poursuivi pour dénonciation calomnieuse. Il a été relaxé mais le bras de fer avec la justice ne s’est pas arrêté là. La cour d’appel de Pau l’a finalement condamné. En tout, trois avocats auraient été menacés. Le bâtonnier du tribunal de Pau, Me Claude Garcia, les soutient : “Cet homme a menacé de mort trois avocats qui l’ont défendu, ils ont fait leur travail et ne sont pas maîtres de la décision du tribunal“.

DR Congo: Attack on environmental lawyer’s home alarms DRC rights defenders


Armed assailants recently attacked the home of Congolese environment lawyer Timothée Mbuya. Mbuya, head of human rights NGO Justicia, is fighting a defamation lawsuit related to his criticism of a farm owned by the former president of DRC, Joseph Kabila. While it has not yet been established who was behind the attack on Mbuya’s home, campaigners say it fits a broader pattern of harassment and intimidation of activists in Katanga province and beyond.

At around midnight on Jan. 12, at least six men, armed with hammers and AK-47s and wearing balaclavas, smashed a large hole in the wall to gain entry to the property in Lubumbashi, the Katanga provincial capital, where Mbuya’s wife and children and several members of his extended family were sleeping.

For more than an hour, the men threatened to kill family members, including the activist’s 9-year-old son, unless they gave up his father’s location.  The attackers, two of whom Mbuya says were dressed as police officers, eventually left, taking mobile phones, a laptop, and jewelry.

“They repeatedly stated they were sent to kill me,” Mbuya told Mongabay by phone from an undisclosed location.

Mbuya said he believes the attack is linked to a report on encroachment into protected areas published by Justicia in September 2021, which among other things alleged that Kabila’s farm, Ferme Espoir, has illegally encroached on Kundelungu National Park.


Lubumbashi: Visite du Me Timothée Mbuya par les hommes armés, et si la ferme Espoir était impliquée ?

Colombia: Day of the Endangered Lawyer – Wrap up


May be an image of 1 person and text that says "24 January 2022 INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE LAWYER IN DANGER COLOMBIA"

Along with the workaday perils of practising law that they share with their male counterparts, such as being gunned down in the street, Colombia’s women lawyers face threats that are particular to them. They could be raped, for example, or suffer another form of sexual assault that aims to intimidate and discourage them from doing their job – which is representing and protecting the vulnerable through the rule of law. Also, women lawyers’ children may be threatened with violence or press ganged into a guerrilla army, where the only subject on the curriculum – Marxist precepts apart – is how to kill.

These are some of the stark truths to emerge from this year’s Day of the Endangered Lawyer (24 January) panel discussion chaired by Law Society international human rights adviser Doctor Marina Brilman. Previous discussions have looked at other countries where the rule of law no longer holds sway, such as Azerbajan, Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt. This year’s focus is on the South American republic of Colombia, where the 2016 peace agreement was supposed to have ended the 60 year conflict between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the state.

The conflict claimed around 262,000 lives, displaced 6.9m people, saw around 18,000 children forced to join armed groups and many thousands more people ‘disappeared’, raped or tortured. The optimism engendered by the agreement has failed to bear fruit, as the three Colombian lawyers on the panel report.

Dora Lucy Arias Giraldo is a member of Colombia’s leading human rights lawyers’ collective. She begins: ‘The Colombian constitution states that it is the duty of lawyers to promote human rights and represent the vulnerable. And yet the government, working through its own intelligence organisations, has an active strategy of diminishing and weakening our operations through attacks on our children and sexual violence against our (women lawyers’) bodies.’ She concedes: ‘There are protection measures in place regarding gender, but they are under-funded – a particular problem when trying to bring powerful economic players to justice.’

Ana Maria Rodriguez, who is also a human rights lawyer, warns that Colombia’s ‘entire existence as a social justice state’ is under threat. She points to recent ‘reforms’ that were designed specifically to weaken the remit of both public prosecutors and the ombudsman, while increasing the power of the executive to turn a blind eye to government corruption.


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Colombia: Day of the Endangered Lawyer – select tweets



Colombia/UK etc: At risk for upholding the law: Day of the Endangered Lawyer


Lawyers are being arbitrarily arrested, prosecuted and convicted, as well as forcibly disappeared and even killed in countries across the world because of their work upholding the rule of law, the Law Society of England and Wales said to mark the day of the endangered lawyer on 24 January.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “We honour the courage and commitment of lawyers around the world who put their lives at risk so that people’s rights are protected and those who violate them are held accountable.

“Today we think particularly of our colleagues in Afghanistan who helped build the justice system and bring stability to the country under the former government. Since the Taliban took power some have tragically been killed because of the work they did, a few managed to escape, but far too many are in hiding, at risk from not only the Taliban but also from terrorists and criminals they convicted since released from prison.

“The Law Society stands in solidarity with legal professionals around the world. We will continue to work to support them and to contribute to building strong, fair justice systems everywhere.” (ESPANOL)



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