UK: Report shows risks to independence of UK legal profession

September 23, 2016

A strong and vibrant legal profession is vital to ensuring that the rule of law is upheld, the Law Society said today welcoming the report of the International Bar Association (IBA) presidential taskforce on the independence of the legal profession.

Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon said, ‘A strong and vibrant legal profession is vital to ensuring that everyone has access to justice and that the rule of law is upheld. This important report identifies areas where legal independence is under attack across the world including in the UK.

‘We must never take the independence of the legal profession for granted. In the UK legal professional privilege (LPP) is under attack. LPP is a cornerstone of our justice system in that it ensures a person can speak confidentially to their solicitor without the risk that confidentiality will be breached by a third party, including the State.

‘The report also identifies a risk to the independence of the legal profession in the UK because the oversight regulator, the Legal Services Board (LSB), is a body of Government. It is notable that in a recent LSB report outlining its vision of regulation this government body failed to recognise the importance of an independent legal profession, which if lost would undermine the very fabric of our society and our ability to maintain the rule of law.

‘It is imperative in this context, and in light of the many threats to legal independence around the world, that the legal profession stands together. We cannot be complacent, and we must continue to fight to ensure the survival of strong, vibrant independent legal professions around the world.

Turkey: Demonstration in Rome to defend Turkish lawyers and Kurds, September 24, 2016

September 26, 2016

Nigeria: EFCC loses case against Lagos lawyer Adegboruwa

September 26, 2016

EFCC loses case against Lagos lawyer Adegboruwa

The High Court of Lagos State, presided over by Justice A. Opesanwo has set aside and vacated the interim order of forfeiture by which the house and property of one Mr. Jonathan Udeagbala, was purported to have been attached by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, in August 2012.

In May, Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, was charged to court for allegedly dealing in property forfeited by order of court to the Federal Government through the EFCC.

Adegboruwa had maintained that he committed no offence in law, but only assisted two business partners to broker a settlement arising from a telecoms transaction and that the EFCC was only taking advantage of the anti-corruption war of the Buhari regime to persecute him “because of his constant criticism of the Buhari administration and in particular because of his involvement as defence counsel in the case of Chief Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) and the cousin of the former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Azibaola Robert,” according to a statement his chambers issued on Sunday.

EFCC loses case against Lagos lawyer Adegboruwa

India-controlled Kashmir: Kashmir unrest: Arrests of Khurram Parvez et al show state’s misuse of Public Safety Act

September 26, 2016

Representational image. PTI

The Jammu and Kashmir government has made a series of arrests under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) to quell the ongoing protests in the valley and those, who have been detained without trail, include a psychiatric patient, an aid worker, and a human rights activist.

According to sources, more than 250 people, including separatist leaders and stone pelters, have been detained under what Amnesty International termed a “lawless law”, under which a person can be detained without a trial for at least six months.

Towards the end of August, Hassan Babar Nehru, head of the NGO Ababeel and a lawyer based in the mountains region of Doda in Jammu, was arrested and booked under the PSA. A fierce critic of present the state administration he had, according to his colleague, “exposed” lapses of the district administration by protesting outside Deputy Commissioners office against non-implementation of decisions taken for welfare of the people of the district. “It is an act of vengeance of the administration, nothing else,” Syed Asim Hashmi, president, Doda Bar Association, toldFirstpost.

Those who know Nehru, describe him as a passionate aid worker who slept in a truck for five days during the relief carried out in the initial days of 2014 floods in Kashmir. And most recently, he had been involved in evacuating victims of traffic accidents, Doda had the highest rate of road accidents in entire Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan: Balochistan lawyers decide to end boycott of courts

September 26, 2016

The lawyers’ community has announced that after about seven weeks it is ending its boycott of court proceedings.

The community had decided to boycott court proceedings in the aftermath of a suicide attack on the Sandeman Civil Hospital, Quetta, on Aug 8, which had claimed the lives of 78 people, including 57 lawyers.

The attack took place at a time when hundreds of lawyers had gathered at the hospital after the killing of Bilal Anwar Kasi, the president of the Balochistan Bar Association.

The decision to end the boycott was announced by the president of Balochistan High Court Bar Association, Abdul Ghani Khilji, Abdullah Jan Kakar and Ataullah Langove at a joint press conference here on Sunday.

They, however, said the legal community would continue to observe strikes on Tuesdays and Thursdays in protest against the government’s failure to bring to justice the elements behind the suicide attack.

They announced that protest rallies and sit-ins would soon be organised in front of the Balochistan Assembly, Quetta Press Club, the Chief Minister House and the Governor House. They rejected the judicial commission formed by the provincial government to investigate the Quetta carnage. “No lawyer would appear before the commission,” Mr Khilji said, adding that the commission had been formed to sabotage the suo motu notice taken by the Supreme Court on the matter.

Colombia: The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concerns over the harassment and intimidation of Yessika Hoyos and members of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR)

September 23, 2016

The Law Society of Upper Canada

The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concerns over the harassment and intimidation of Yessika Hoyos and members of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR).

Yessika Hoyos is a human rights lawyer whose work focuses on seeking accountability and reparations for crimes committed against the trade union movement and representing victims of other grave human rights violations. Her father, a key union figure and educator, was murdered in 2001 by military intelligence. Agents of the National Police, army and paramilitary are implicated in the murder. Yessika Hoyos’ work at CAJAR also involves pushing for accountability in the case of her father’s murder.

It has come to our attention that Yessika Hoyos and other members of CAJAR have faced increasing harassment and intimidation as a result of their human rights work. Reports indicate that Yessika Hoyos and her colleagues at CAJAR have experienced a number of incidents of harassment and intimidation, including threats and surveillance by unknown individuals.

The Law Society is deeply concerned about these reports. We believe strongly that lawyers should be able to exercise their legitimate duties without fear for their lives, for their liberty and for their security.

The Law Society of Upper Canada urges the government of Colombia to comply with Articles 16 and 23 of the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. (FRANCAIS)

China: Rule by Law or Power? Lawyer’s Conviction Stirs Online Debate in China

September 23, 2016

FILE - Attorney Xia Lin, pictured on July 14, 2011, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, Sept. 22, 2016, on fraud charges in what observers said was thought to be the harshest penalty rendered in years against those few willing to take on the ruling Communist Party.

A harsh 12-year sentence handed down Thursday by a Chinese court against prominent civil rights lawyer Xia Lin is stirring a heated debate online about the rule of law in China, and whether the case shows an abuse of legal procedure.

Xia, whose clients included dissident artist Ai Weiwei, was found guilty of defrauding several people out of at least 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) to pay off gambling debts. He is the latest of several rights activists, particularly defense lawyers, to be sentenced under the administration of President Xi Jinping, who has justified the crackdown on civil society as part of a broader campaign to boost security and stability.

Many netizens vented their frustration on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform, over what they consider fabricated charges by the Beijing court against Xia. “The disgusting ruling lays bare the true meaning of so called ‘rule of law,’” wrote a Wei user who posted under the name What Happens to the Society, while another user commented, “guilty or not, the authorities have the final say, nothing to do with law.”

Rule of law?

Under one Weibo posting, at least ten users responded with the same comment, “he who sets his mind to beat his dog will easily find his stick,” to satirize the country’s police state apparatus.

Activists Speak Out on Xi’s Rights Crackdown (CHINESE) (FRANCAIS) (FLEMISH) (PORTUGUESE) (ITALIANO)