Monthly Archives: February 2017

Iran: Free prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani !

February 28, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Thursday 2nd of March marks the 2000th day that prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani has been in prison. To mark this day, we are taking part in a two-hour Twitter Storm and invite you to join us in calling for his immediate and unconditional release. Below are some suggested tweets. Please use the hashtags #FreeSoltani and #2000Days
DATE: Thursday, 2 March 2017
TIME: 20:00-22:00 Tehran time (16:30-18:30 GMT London time)
Iranian human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani has won awards for his peaceful work. He should be praised, not jailed #FreeSoltani
Iranian human rights defender Abdolfattah Soltani is NOT a criminal & defending human rights is NOT a crime. #FreeSoltani NOW!
Iran wants to silence human rights lawyers like Abdolfattah Soltani who has spent #2000Days in jail. @khamenei_ir must #FreeSoltani NOW!
By keeping Abdolfattah Soltani in jail, Iran is showing its intent to silence human rights defenders at all costs. #FreeSoltani NOW!
Human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani has been in prison for #2000Days. Tell Iran’s @khamenei_ir to #FreeSoltani NOW!
Abdolfattah Soltani has spent #2000Days behind bars. His crime? Defending human rights. @khamenei_ir must #FreeSoltani NOW!
RT & tell #Iran’s @khamenei_ir that defending human rights is NOT a crime. Free human rights defender Abdolfattah Soltani NOW! #FreeSoltani

(Human Rights in Iran-Amnesty International حقوق بشر در ایران- عفو بین الملل Facebook)

The Philippines: stop politically-motivated persecution of Senator De Lima

February 28, 2017

The ICJ condemns the arrest and detention of Senator Leila De Lima and calls for her immediate release.

The ICJ believes that the charges brought against Senator De Lima are fabricated and thus considers her prosecution to be politically motivated and amounting to judicial persecution.

Senator De Lima is a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“This is clearly meant to silence for good a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

In August 2016, Senator De Lima led an investigation by the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights into hundreds of cases of extrajudicial killings occurring after President Duterte assumed power.

On 19 September 2016, however, she was removed by her colleagues from her position as chairperson of the said committee due to their concerns towards her “continuous efforts to destroy the President”.

Weeks before her removal, on 25 August 2016, President Duterte had accused Senator De Lima of running a drug trafficking ring inside New Bilibid Prison during her stint as Justice Secretary.

https://www.icj.org/philippines-stop-politically-motivated-persecution-of-senator-de-lima/

http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/statements/philippines/2017/02/d24221/

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/fr-fr/136/443/766/free-leila-de-lima-the-senator-imprisoned-after-criticizing-the-violent-war-on-drugs-on-philippines/?taf_id=34424623&cid=fb_na

Cameroon: Protesters gather to support Cameroon

February 26, 2017

draft

On Sunday, Cameroonians along the Front Range gathered in Aurora to show support for their loved ones enduring crisis at home.

Southwest Cameroon is going on more than a month without internet after the government shut of its access in January.

The move came as a tipping point in a longstanding crisis between the country’s French government and the country’s only English-speaking region.

The recent internet shutdown has hurt local businesses in the southwestern portion of Cameroon where several tech start-ups have thrived. It has also stymied local markets as ATM’s and banks have shutdown as a result.

“It was very tricky, I was in a war zone,” Harmony Bobga said. “It’s scary. I had to go underground.”

Bobga, a human rights lawyer in Cameroon, fled his native country in January once a warrant was issued for his arrest. It came only months after smuggling his daughter to neighboring Nigeria as a way to avoid the rampant raping and killings

“It’s not simply our culture is at stake,” Bobga said. “For 56 years there has been a programmed annihilation of our culture.”

http://www.9news.com/life/events/protesters-gather-to-support-cameroon/414980262

http://www.cameroonconcordnews.com/north-west-lawyers-reinstate-barrister-bobga-harmony-as-their-leader/

http://www.camer.be/57727/6:1/cameroun-crise-anglophone-arrestations-me-bobga-harmony-en-fuite-aux-etats-unis-pour-echapper-a-la-peine-de-mort-cameroon.html (FRANCAIS)

 

Mexico: How Mexican Human Rights Lawyers Found a New Route to Accountability

February 21, 2017

Mexico City’s Museum of Anthropology and History is world-renowned for its collection of Aztec and Mayan art, and for exhibitions on the modern culture of Mexico’s indigenous peoples. But on February 21, the museum provided the backdrop for an unprecedented modern ceremony: an official act of apology delivered to three indigenous women by representatives of the the federal prosecutor’s office, the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR), for the violation of their human rights.

The three women, Alberta Alcántara, Jacinta Francisco Marcial, and Teresa González, are members of the Hñä-Hñú (Otomí) people. In addition to the formal apology, they will also receive financial compensation for the wrongful prosecution and imprisonment they suffered over a decade ago at the hands of federal police and prosecutors in their home state of Querétaro. Their story, now nationally known, has also raised fundamental and still unresolved questions about the role and accountability of the PGR in Mexico’s criminal justice system.

The three women were first arrested and unlawfully detained in August 2006, four months after a fracas erupted in the marketplace of the town of Santiago Mexquititlán after the police tried to seize goods from indigenous vendors. All three women were falsely charged with the kidnapping of six federal police officers during the trouble (even though one of the accused—Jacinta Francisco Marcial—was attending mass and visiting the local pharmacy at the time of the alleged crime). The three were tried and convicted without the Hñähñu translator they should have been provided with under the law. Despite the lack of evidence against them, they were each sentenced to 21 years in prison.

It took three years of legal challenges by Centro Prodh, a leading Mexican human rights group, to secure the women’s release, and the overturning of the charges against them. Along the way, the case became emblematic of the failures of Mexico’s justice system to offer equitable access to justice to indigenous people.

https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/voices/how-mexican-human-rights-lawyers-found-new-route-accountability?utm_source=news&utm_campaign=news_022517&utm_medium=email&utm_content=C3r9SFd9YXB4Q-KsypIVfc5yUx7ukzJv9Dn6jrWMvng

Pakistan: Restive Pakistani city in legal limbo since bombing killed, injured 150 lawyers

February 24, 2017

Pakistan’s Balochistan Province has long had a reputation for lawlessness, but it’s never been truer on a practical level than it is today. More than half the provincial capital’s lawyers were killed or injured in a bombing last August, and thousands of cases remain in legal limbo.
On 8 August, a bomb ripped through a hospital where lawyers had gathered to mourn a colleague who had been shot and killed just hours earlier. Of Quetta’s approximately 280 practising lawyers, about 100 were injured and 56 were killed, according to the Balochistan Bar Council.
The blast blew Balochistan’s legal system into disarray. Courts were closed for three months, and lawyers continue to strike two days a week to demand more police protection.
“The 56 lawyers who were killed had almost 5,000 cases and 70 percent of them are still stalled,” Ali Kakar, a lawyer at the Balochistan High Court, told IRIN.
The bombing has left a gaping judicial hole in a province where the rule of law was already tenuous, and violent attacks and human rights violations commonplace.

https://www.irinnews.org/news/2017/02/24/restive-pakistani-city-legal-limbo-bombing-killed-injured-150-lawyers

http://pakobserver.net/attack-on-lawyers-community/

Russia: The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the ongoing harassment of lawyer Bakhrom Khamroev in Russia

February 24, 2017

The Law Society of Upper Canada

The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the ongoing harassment of lawyer Bakhrom Khamroev in Russia.

Bakhrom Khamroev is a human rights lawyer and the head of Erdam, an organization that works to protect Central Asian migrant workers in Russia. He is known for representing persecuted Uzbekistani political refugees.

It has recently come to the Law Society’s attention that on September 29, 2016, 20 armed officers from the Federal Security Service (“FSB”) conducted an eight-hour raid on Bakhrom Khamroev’s home in Moscow, confiscating various documents and technical equipment. He was detained and taken to FSB headquarters where he was questioned about his political viewpoints and his knowledge of two Uzbekistanis who had been charged with terrorism for their alleged involvement in the Islamic political organization “Hizb ut-Tahrir”. He was told he was now a witness in the case against the two Uzbekistanis. Bakhrom Khamroev had previously represented these two individuals on a separate matter. He was later released, but warned that he would be summoned for further questioning.

According to reports, Bakhrom Khamroev has been targeted in the past for his human rights work. Prior to the abovementioned incident, he had been convicted and sentenced to 1.5 years imprisonment on fabricated drug possession charges. He was later released on parole. Additionally, Bakhrom Khamroev has been attacked by both unknown assailants and FSB officers on five separate occasions. While criminal investigations were opened by the Russian authorities for some of the attacks, no suspects were ever identified or brought to justice.

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147503528&langtype=1033

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147503528&langtype=1036 (FRANCAIS)

Dominican Republic: The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the harassment of lawyer Noemi Mendez in the Dominican Republic

February 24, 2017

The Law Society of Upper Canada

The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the harassment of lawyer Noemi Mendez in the Dominican Republic.

Noemi Mendez is a prominent human rights lawyer known for her advocacy on behalf of migrant workers and Dominicans of Haitian descent. She has represented several individuals affected by the September 2013 judgment of the Constitutional Court which arbitrarily and retroactively deprived generations of people born and raised in the Dominican Republic of their Dominican nationality.

Upon the release of the aforementioned judgment, a number of human rights lawyers who criticized the decision were subjected to threats and other acts of intimidation. The situation has not improved since — human rights lawyers working to overturn the ruling are regularly targeted through smear campaigns, harassment on social media, criminalisation and violent attacks.

According to reports, on December 12, 2016, Noemi Mendez arrived at work to find that the glass entrance door of her office in San Pedro de Macorís had been broken. No valuables appeared to have been taken and nothing seemed to be missing. That said, this damage to her property does not appear to be an isolated incident, as her car had been vandalized just a month prior.

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147503539&langtype=1033

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147503539&langtype=1036 (FRANCAIS)

Kenya: The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the harassment of lawyer Simon Lilan in Kenya

February 24, 2017

The Law Society of Upper Canada

The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the harassment of lawyer Simon Lilan in Kenya.

It has come to the Law Society’s attention that Kenyan lawyer Simon Lilan received death threats and experienced other forms of harassment as a result of his advocacy on behalf of the late Kenyan politician Mark Too.

According to reports, on the belief that his client Mark Too had been assassinated, Simon Lilan sought and obtained an injunction to halt Mr. Too’s burial until Mr. Too’s body had been examined by independent pathologists. When the injunction was subsequently revoked, Simon Lilan threatened to seek new orders to have the body exhumed. For “[his] stand on the death of Mr. Too”, he reportedly received death threats from “powerful people [who] want to finish [him]”.[1]

The harassment appears to have been so severe and the threat to his safety so tangible that Simon Lilan felt compelled to go into hiding on January 9, 2017. When he came out of hiding on January 20, 2017, he explained that he went into hiding after being followed by two vehicles whose “occupants were not up to any good” and after receiving calls from senior politicians who wanted him to drop the case. The police reportedly did nothing when he turned to them for protection. Relatedly, when his office was burgled on January 17, 2017, the local police stated that their preliminary investigations showed no signs of a break-in. [2]

While in hiding, Simon Lilan sought asylum from foreign embassies and civil rights organizations. His safety and security continue to be at risk.

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147503540&langtype=1033

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147503540&langtype=1036 (FRANCAIS)

Turkey: The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the detention of Dr. İştar Gözaydın in Turkey

February 24, 2017

The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the detention of Dr. İştar Gözaydın in Turkey.

Dr. İştar Gözaydın is a professor of law and politics and founder of the human rights NGO the Helsinki Citizens Assembly. She is known for her positions against capital punishment and mob violence in Turkey.

The Law Society recently learned that Dr. İştar Gözaydın was taken into custody on December 20, 2016, and formally arrested on suspicion of “being a member of an armed terror organization” on December 28, 2016. The charge is based on the alleged testimony of a secret witness and an intelligence report. Reports indicate that she is currently being detained at Şakran Prison in İzmir Province.

During her first days in detention, Dr. İştar Gözaydın was denied proper access to her lawyer. Although her lawyer was eventually permitted to see her, he has been barred from accessing the investigation file on her case. Additionally, to date, her husband has been refused permission to visit her.

While the investigation into Dr. İştar Gözaydın is based on allegations that she is connected to terrorist organizations, human rights groups believe that her detention is a form of retaliation for her human rights activities. As such, Dr. İştar Gözaydın’s detention is arbitrary and constitutes harassment.

The Law Society of Upper Canada urges the Government of Turkey to comply with Turkey’s obligations under international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

Article 16 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers states:

http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/public-statement—the-law-society-of-upper-canada-expresses-grave-concern-about-the-detention-of-dr-itar-gozaydn-in-turkey-614723014.html

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147503530&langtype=1036 (FRANCAIS)

Turkey: The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the arrests and detentions of lawyers Seher Acay, Fevzi Adsiz, Ziya Baği and Mahmut Bingöl in Turkey

February 24, 2017

The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the arrests and detentions of lawyers Seher Acay, Fevzi Adsiz, Ziya Baği and Mahmut Bingöl in Turkey.

Seher Acay, Fevzi Adsiz, Ziya Baği and Mahmut Bingöl are all human rights lawyers and members of the Human Rights Association (“IHD”), a Turkish human rights non-governmental organization. They are also members of the Mesopotamia Lawyers Association (“MHD”), which was shut down pursuant to an emergency decree by the Turkish government on November 24, 2016.

The Law Society recently learned that on November 21, 2016, these four lawyers were arrested and taken to Mardin Police Headquarters pursuant to an arbitrary order issued by Public Prosecutor Vural Eker and that the four lawyers remain in detention. During their first five days in detention, they had no access to their lawyers. From thereon, their access to their lawyers was severely limited by the police. In addition, it is reported that the lawyers are being held with five other people in a cell designed for two people and that they have been denied medical check-ups.

According to most recent reports, the police have not yet taken the statements of the four detained lawyers or filed formal charges against them. There is speculation in the local press that their arrests and detentions may be linked to their activities as counsel for the city of Mardin, whose mayor was accused of being linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (the “PKK”) and consequently taken into custody on November 21, 2016.

The Law Society is concerned that the arrests and detentions of lawyers Seher Acay, Fevzi Adsiz, Ziya Baği and Mahmut Bingöl are tied to their human rights work.

The Law Society of Upper Canada urges the Government of Turkey to comply with Turkey’s obligations under international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/public-statement—the-law-society-of-upper-canada-expresses-grave-concern-about-the-arrests-and-detentions-of-lawyers-seher-acay-fevzi-adsiz-ziya-bai-and-mahmut-bingol-in-turkey-614723614.html

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147503532 (FRANCAIS)