December 19, 2016
More than 50 lawyers were killed in Quetta on Aug 8 this year as they gathered to mourn the death of the Balochistan Bar Association (BBA) president Bilal Anwar Kasi in a gun attack earlier that day. In the aftermath, 2,000 clients remain without legal representation, causing unprecedented delays in the high court and lower trial courts — both previously strained with increasing civil and criminal cases. At present, 40pc of court cases in the province are pending.
Out of 32 districts, almost 26 have no legal representatives. This implies that Quetta-based lawyers must defend clients by travelling long distances. Consequently, 13,000 cases remain pending in the district courts and around over 6,000 in the Balochistan High Court (BHC) and two circuit benches in Sibi and Turbat. Frequent strike calls allow the BHC and lower trial courts to barely function for two days a week, with certain senior lawyers over-burdened with work. With clients searching for senior lawyers to hire, it is becoming challenging for those already dealing with an overload of cases, says a BHC lawyer, adding that one senior lawyer who died in the attack was handling more than 700 cases.
February 11, 2016
Lawyers’ organisations around the world marked another Day of the Endangered Lawyer on 22 January. The purpose of the event is to call attention to threatened human rights lawyers around the world. The first such day was organised in 2010 and it has gained momentum since.
In a statement released to acknowledge the day, New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore expressed the Law Society’s support for lawyers around the world who risk harassment, persecution, and injury or death in their work.
Mr Moore said New Zealand was highly ranked for its adherence to the rule of law and institutions which uphold human rights.
“An important part of this is the ability to criticise aspects of the justice system, to advocate for change, and for lawyers to represent their clients without fear of arrest or violence. Sadly this is not so for members of the legal profession in some other parts of the world.”
More than six months after the 9 July 2015 attack (“the 709 crackdown”) on the legal profession, Chinese lawyers are still missing, detained, held under residential surveillance or forbidden from leaving China. A joint statement by 115 worldwide organisations on 14 January 2016 noted that 14 lawyers and 22 human rights defenders are still being confined, with some having disappeared, and another 33 are banned from leaving the country. Bodies such as the United Nations Committee Against Torture and the International Bar Association continue to express deep concern at the treatment of the legal profession in China.
In mid-January 2016 the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders stated that human rights lawyer Shu Xiangxin had appeared before a criminal court on 8 January accused of defamation. He was sentenced to six months in prison and his lawyer’s licence was revoked. During the 30-minute trial Mr Shu’s defence lawyers were not allowed in court. He has been refused medical treatment and has been beaten and tortured by police while in custody.
December 6, 2016
Recently, an official notice was issued by the Justice Bureau of the city of Jinan stating that the law license of prominent human rights lawyer Li Jinxing has been suspended by Chinese officials. This action was in response to Li’s unacceptable behavior in the court while defending his client Yang Maodong (better known as Guo Feixiong), a free-speech activist who was sentenced to a six-year prison term after he displayed a banner calling on government officials to disclose their assets.
The notice specifically stated that Li interrupted a judge, verbally abused court officials and interfered with formal court proceedings. Three days have been allotted by the bureau to Li for applying a hearing on the suspension of his license; however, Li said that he is yet to decide whether he would appeal the ruling. With respect to this issue, Maya Wang, a China researcher for Human Rights Watch, stated that the “government has just become increasingly intolerant of anyone challenging its power … Despite the promise of President Xi’s rule of law, these lawyers who are basically fighting to promote the rule of law on the ground are being punished.”
(source China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group / 中國維權律師關注組 Facebook)
DAY OF THE ENDANGERED LAWYER JANUARY 24, 2017 (CHINA):
December 18, 2016
Thousands of people are being made homeless every year because they cannot find lawyers to help them resist eviction, charities are warning.
Even though legal aid is available to help anyone in danger of losing their home, there has been an 18% decline in the number of challenges brought, at a time of record repossessions in the private rental market.
The latest figures, highlighted by the Legal Action Group (LAG) and the homeless charity Shelter, reinforce warnings by the Law Society that “advice deserts”, where few, if any, lawyers are left in practice who are capable of dealing with legal aid housing cases, are emerging across England and Wales.
Last year, 42,728 households in rented accommodation were forcibly removed, according to Ministry of Justice figures. That number has risen by 53% since 2010 and now stands at an all-time high.
Deep cuts to other forms of housing legal aid introduced by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012, bureaucratic obstructions and poor hourly rates have progressively driven most lawyers specialising in housing out of the market, leaving few practitioners.