August 15, 2016
Tutuklu avukat Deniz Sürgüt’ün yargılandığı duruşma, 1 Eylül Perşembe günü Midyat Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nde görülecektir. Tüm meslektaşlarımızı savunmayı sahiplenmeye çağırıyoruz.
Source: Özgürlükçü Hukukçular Derneği (Facebook)
Defend the defenders of peoples' rights. Secure, encrypted email: firstname.lastname@example.org (end-to-end encryption)
August 15, 2016
For nearly two months, it has been lawyers versus the Madras High Court in Tamil Nadu. Other than the High Court (which has been working normally) lawyers in most other courts have been on boycott. Things reached a new low in the 154 year history of the institution when more than 3,000 advocates from across the state came to the HC and laid siege to the institution. They are demanding the immediate withdrawal of the recent amendments to the statutory rules under the Advocates Act that empower judges to debar erring lawyers from continuing practice. The genesis of these rules is a Supreme Court judgement in the RK Anand case. “The primary cause, however, is the failure of the bar council to act as the effective regulator of the legal profession,” says Sriram Panchu, senior advocate, Madras HC.
Trouble has been brewing ever since amendments were made to the 46-year-old statutory Rules. Earlier, a court could debar advocates only on the grounds of contempt of court. The new provisions empower judges to debar advocates who browbeat or abuse judges, lay siege to court halls, tamper with court records, appear in court under the influence of liquor, spread unsubstantiated allegations against judges or accept money either in the name of a judge or on the pretext of influencing him.
The recent amendment empowers not only the HC but also the principal district judges (PDJ) in every district to debar lawyers indulging in misconduct. The young lawyers and the practitioners in the lower courts are worried that for the first time the district judges have been allowed to take action. They are not happy with this situation.
August 11, 2016
Bilal Kasi, a prominent lawyer and president of the Baluchistan Bar Association, was recently shot on his way to court. He was taken to Quetta’s government-run hospital where he was pronounced dead. According to officials, shortly afterward, a suicide bomber in Pakistan killed at least 70 people and wounded more than 100 in an attack on mourners gathered at a hospital in Quetta. Rehmat Saleh Baloch, the provincial health minister, said that due to the extent of injuries, the death toll could rise. The bomber struck as the mourners, mostly lawyers and journalists, crowded into the emergency department to express their condolences and grief for Kasi. The suicide attack appeared to be pre-planned to target Kasi’s mourners, according to a spokesman for the Baluchistan government.
Ali Zafar, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, said the bombing is an attack on justice. “We (lawyers) have been targeted because we always raise our voice for people’s rights and for democracy … Lawyers will not just protest this attack but will also prepare a long-term plan of action.”
On August 10, the same day Honduras’ bar association marked its 100th year anniversary, three lawyers were killed. The Honduran Human Rights Commission said the deaths were the latest spate of fatal violence against political activists, journalists, human rights defenders, and legal representatives that has seen over 102 lawyers were murdered in Honduras between 2010 and March of 2016.
In July, Willie Kimani was killed and dumped in the Oldonyo Sabuk River in Kilimabogo, alongside his client and taxi driver. Mr. Kimani was working for the International Justice Mission, a US legal charity which focuses on cases of police abuse of power. He had been representing his client in a complaint against a police officer who had allegedly shot him during a traffic stop in 2015. “We do not understand why an innocent advocate who is simply a mouth piece of his client will eventually pay the ultimate price on a case [in] which he had no personal interest,” said Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association Secretary General Bryan Khaemba. “He was simply conducting his professional duties.”
Last November, prominent Kurdish lawyer, Tahir Elci was killed when confrontation erupted after he spoke at a news conference. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or H.D.P., condemned the attack as a “planned assassination.” The party stated that “in the place left by Tahir Elci, thousands more Tahir Elcis will carry on the work in the struggle for law and justice.” They also called on people to “raise their voices” to protest the killing.
Phil Shiner, a prominent U.K. attorney from Public Interest Lawyers, said that every day someone would call his law firm with threats and abuse after he prosecuted British Army soldiers for abusing prisoners. Shiner said that the “bullying” wouldn’t put him off pursuing what he describes as justice.
Are these threats and attacks to silence lawyers merely an extension of violence advocated against them for centuries?
August 15, 2016
A B.C. woman detained against her will under the Mental Health Act has filed a legal challenge to get the government to provide her with a legal-aid lawyer.
The 39-year-old woman, identified only as Z.B., is challenging her doctor’s decision to keep her in a hospital psychiatric ward in a mental health review panel hearing scheduled for Aug. 23.
Z.B. is homeless and receives CPP disability payments of $500 a month. She qualifies for legal aid representation, yet her request for a lawyer was denied because the Community Legal Assistance Society, the organization contracted by the Legal Services Society to provide mental health legal aid in the province, did not have the funding to provide her with a lawyer.
“The government has detained her against her will, and she has the right to a fair hearing,” said lead counsel Mark Underhill, who was retained by the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre to represent Z.B. “In her case, there is no serious question that she requires legal representation to have any chance at a fair hearing.”
August 12, 2016
Statement by Xie Yang’s Family on His Torture
(acknowledgement: translation by China Change)
Our beloved Xie Yang, a lawyer from Hunan, was one of the individuals arrested during the “709” crackdown. On July 11 at 5:40 a.m., he was taken away on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” and “disturbing public order,” and was placed under residential surveillance at a designated place. Later, he was locked up in the Changsha No. 2 Detention Center in Hunan.
A couple of days ago an individual familiar with the situation revealed that last August, Xie Yang was subject to torture at the location he was being held in — he had yelled out of the window for help while the police weren’t watching, and was then beaten unconscious, before being sent to the 163 Hospital for emergency rescue. This July at the Changsha No. 2 Detention Center, the authorities purposefully arranged death row criminals to move into his prison cell. He was first provoked, and then savagely bashed with the iron manacles of the death row prisoners, leading him to suffer severe bodily harm. If the above is investigated and ascertained to be true — that the Changsha No. 2 Detention Center abused its power by subjecting a detainee to illegal violence — then, as family members, we express our extreme shock and fury. We strongly censure the relevant authorities and urge that they cease the violation of human rights of Xie Yang, investigate those guilty of abuse and the public officials who bear responsibility for it, and together safeguard the reputation of China as a great country subject to the rule of law.
Lawyers are the workers of the laws of a society, and they lay the foundation of modern civilization. According to the regulations in China’s Lawyer’s Law (律师法), the duty of a lawyer is to defend the legal rights of his clients, ensure the correct implementation of the law, and safeguard fairness and righteousness in society. As family members of Xie Yang, we have always considered him to be a hero, and we are proud of him and the sacredness of his profession. For years Xie Yang has been a pillar of spiritual support for his parents — he’s the backbone of our whole family. Among his siblings, Xie Yang has been the one who called his aging parents the most, checking how they were doing and letting them know that he was all right. He belongs to a big family of six married siblings, but he is close to everyone and maintains regular contact with each of them because of his warm-hearted nature. Whenever his parents visit him in the city, he always receives them happily. After disaster befell him, no one in the family has been at peace.
Xie Yang is a person with a strong sense of righteousness. Whenever his brothers or sisters find themselves in difficulty, he does everything to help them out, seldom refusing, and so has an excellent reputation back home. He treats his friends and colleagues honestly, he’s generous, and he fights for what’s right. We believe that Xie Yang has never once had the unlawful motive of “inciting subversion of state power.” He has simply exhibited uncommon courage and bravery in the face of abuses of public power and violations of the law.
Firstly, in the various public incidents that he was involved, the portion of illegal or suspected-to-be-illegal activities of public officials cannot be equated with the government, and even less be equated with “state power.” Punishing and lodging complaints against these individuals, within the scope of the law, does not undermine the foundation of the regime — instead it does the opposite, restraining the illegal use of state power and ensuring the right of supervision conferred upon citizens by the constitution. It also assists to drive forward the progress of the rule of law in China, and is beneficial to China’s transformation to rule of law. On the other hand, not respecting the right of the citizenry to supervise officials creates a breeding ground for a corrupt bureaucracy, bringing no benefits but myriad harms to the state and the people.
Secondly, Xie Yang was born and raised in the countryside and later established himself modestly in Changsha. He didn’t come from power or wealth and has no political capital. To put it plainly, he’s simply a commoner. Saying that someone like him is “inciting subversion” is like “accusing a mantis of trying to stop a chariot.” Those who really have the power to oppose the Party, those who lust for power, are the likes of Bo Xilai. It’s not us humble commoners without authority or power. If the relevant organs insist on fixing the crime of “inciting subversion” on Xie Yang, it will really be an unbelievable charge. It will also leave behind an inglorious page in the history of China’s path to becoming a great country ruled by law!
In sum, we hope that the relevant departments will conscientiously carry out their duties, respect the objective facts, not take a predetermined stance, not make up “the true circumstances,” and truly ensure that the basic rights of citizens are not violated. Our entire family is awaiting the arrival of justice.
Jointly undersigned by Xie Yang’s family:
Father Xie Huicheng (谢惠成)
Mother Liang Fengying (梁风英)
Sister-in-law Huang Yi (黄仪)
Older brother: (谢扬军)
Eldest sister Xie Cuiping (谢翠平)
Brother-in-law Xiao Song (肖松)
Second older sister Xie Baolian (谢保连)
Brother-in-law Qin Mingnan (秦名南)
Third older sister Xie Chilian (谢池连)
Brother-in-law Huang Yuanyou (黄渊友)
Fourth older sister Xie Wanlian (谢晚连)
Brother-in-law Yuan Bangqun (袁邦群)
Younger sister Xie Juping (谢菊平)
Brother-in-law Lin Youguo (林又国)
Nephew Xie Xuhua (谢续华)
Nephew’s wife Ning Haiyan (宁海燕)
source: China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group / 中國維權律師關注組 (Facebook)
August 13, 2016
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) denied illegally funding Egyptian human rights lawyer Gamal Eid, director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), amid the slew of accusations he faces in the case publicly known as the ‘NGOs foreign funding’ case.
“Among the accusations prosecutors have leveled against the veteran free-expression advocate is the false claim that CPJ paid him to defame Egypt internationally,” the organisation said in a statement Friday.
Eid is among other civil society workers under prosecution for accusations of receiving funds illegitimately from foreign organisations, as authorities decided to re-open the infamous case from 2011 which had led to the departure and closure of several foreign NGOs in Egypt.
The prosecution accused Eid of receiving $50,000 in international funding to spread ideas of democracy and human rights on the internet. According to an interview with Daily News Egypt in April, a state crackdown campaign was targeting 12 organisations, mostly comprised of NGOs working in advocacy, women’s rights, and development.
August 14, 2016
On August 9, every lawyer in Quetta, Balochistan’s capital, was either at a funeral or shuttling around town to offer condolences. The suicide bombing at the Civil Hospital Quetta on August 8 left 73 dead and over 100 injured, most of them lawyers. So devastating was the impact of the attack by Tehrik-e-Taliban splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahraar that no member of Balochistan’s legal community was left unaffected. Earlier in the day, Balochistan Bar Association president Bilal Kasi had been gunned down. Kasi’s target killing brought the city’s entire legal fraternity to the civil hospital, setting the scene for an attack that has left the nation’s legal and judicial circles reeling, with many arguing that it will take decades to overcome the damage.
Amanullah Kanrani, former advocate general of Balochistan, was one of the survivors of the Quetta attack. Despite sustaining injuries, he left his hospital bed to join the mourners and begin rebuilding the community. “There are 300 lawyers in Balochistan,” Kanrani said, “and 150 of them were either killed or injured.” These are approximate numbers, but it is widely believed that at least half the lawyers in the province have been affected, including almost the entire cadre of senior practicing lawyers. Syed Ayaz Zahoor, a senior Baloch advocate, said, “It will take 40 years for Balochistan to overcome the damage that has been done”.
Baloch lawyers are the only means of communication between the people of their province and the Pakistani state, which faces allegations of silencing them and often held responsible for their mysterious disappearance. “With so many lawyers missing,” said Kanrani, “the courts cannot function. It will be to the detriment of the judiciary and the litigants of Balochistan.” People who have appealed to the courts will now find it impossible to attain justice. Zahoor summed it up. “You can now count on your fingers the number of advocates left,” he stated. “It will have a great effect on the public…it will have great consequences for our province.”
Quetta’s lawyers are active not only in defending the dispossessed and disappeared, they are among a small intellectual core in the province that has been consistently targeted by militants and the security agencies.