January 24, 2017
On January 24, lawyers in Mumbai protested the fact that nearly a dozen Indian advocates have faced harassment for opposing human rights abuses by the state.
Human rights lawyers in India are increasingly being hounded by state agencies, because their work confronts alleged atrocities perpetuated by the government and the police. This was the message that members of the non-profit Indian Association of People’s Lawyers sent out at a small gathering of lawyers and activists in Mumbai on Tuesday evening, in the hope of drawing international attention to the cause of “endangered lawyers” in India.
The gathering was organised to commemorate a little-known occasion: the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, an annual, international initiative observed on January 24 by lawyers’ collectives and bar associations around the world. Founded by Dutch advocates Hans Gaasbeek and Symone Gaasbeek-Wielinga in 2010, the Day of the Endangered Lawyer aims to bring justice to persecuted human rights lawyers by raising international awareness and petitioning state authorities of various countries to uphold their rights.
Organisers of this Day commemorate lawyers in different focus countries each year. This year’s focus country is China, where over 300 lawyers and civil society activists have been illegally detained, harassed and even tortured by the state since 2015.
In an official statement released at their Mumbai protest, the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers said, “These instances are not only an assault on an advocate’s right to fearlessly practice their profession but also a violation of the fundamental right of all arrestees to get legal representation and their right to fair trial.”
In their statement, the Association also demanded that the Indian government “desist from branding, threatening, harassing and arresting any Advocates defending their clients, particularly political prisoners”. Other demands included the unconditional release of advocates Prabhakar and Ravindranath from Telangana and Murugan from Tamil Nadu, as well as an end to the continuous harassment of lawyers from the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group.
(source IAPL – Indian Association of People’s Lawyers Facebook)