Daily Archives: 08/08/2017

Turkey: The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the arrest and detention of lawyers Günal Kurşun, Nalan Erkem, trainee lawyer Şeyhmuz Özbekli and others

August 2, 2017

The Law Society of Upper Canada

Günal Kurşun is a lawyer, academic and activist with Amnesty International Turkey.  He also works for the Human Rights Agenda Association, monitoring human rights violations throughout Turkey.  According to reports, he was the first Turkish lawyer working on the International Criminal Court in Turkey.  Until recently, he was a lecturer at the Faculty of Law at Başkent University in Ankara.

Nalan Erkem is a lawyer with the Citizen’s Assembly, an organization that promotes peace democracy and civil society through Europe. She is a campaigner against torture and violence against women.  According to reports, Nalan Erkem was also a member of the board of directors of the Izmir Bar Association from 2002-2004.

Şeyhmuz Özbekli works with the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly.  He is a newly qualified lawyer who has been actively involved in human rights for the last four years.  According to reports, he is a member of the Rights Initiative and works in the Human Rights Unit of the Diyarbakir Bar Association.

It is the Law Society’s understanding that on July 5, 2017, Günal Kurşun, Nalan Erkem and Şeyhmuz Özbekli were arrested along with human rights defenders Idil Eser (Director of Amnesty International Turkey), Özlem Dalkıran (Citizens’ Assembly), Veli Acu (Human Rights Agenda Association) Ali Gharavi (IT strategy consultant), Peter Steudtner (non-violence and wellbeing trainer), İlknur Üstün (Women’s Coalition) and Nejat Taştan (Equal Rights Watch Association).  The arrests took place during a digital security and information management workshop that had been organized by the Citizens Assembly in Istanbul.

Reports indicate that for at least 24 hours, the lawyers and other human rights defenders were not provided with access to their lawyers and family members.

On July 10, 2017 and July 11, 2017, the lawyers and human rights defenders’ houses were raided and searched by the police. Police seized electronic equipment.  No search warrants were provided to the lawyers of the detained defenders.  Additionally, some of the searches took place without the presence of lawyers.

On July 18, 2017, the lawyers and other human rights defenders were charged with “committing a crime in the name of a terrorist organization without being a member.”  According to reports, “neither the Prosecutor nor the Judge have referred to any specific organisation nor to any criminal provision.  Moreover, the investigation remains confidential and lawyers cannot access their clients’ files.”

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147504051

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147504051&langtype=1036

Venezuela: The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the treatment of Attorney General Luisa Ortega Dìaz in Venezuela

August 2, 2017

The Law Society of Upper Canada

The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the treatment of Attorney General Luisa Ortega Dìaz in Venezuela.

Luisa Ortega Dìaz has been Venezuela’s lead prosecutor since 2007.  More recently, she has been viewed as one of the few critical voices within Venezuela’s government, known for protecting and defending human rights.

It has come to the Law Society’s attention that on June 27, 2017, the Supreme Court issued two rulings that undermine the powers of Attorney General Luisa Ortega Dìaz, who has been openly questioning the state’s policies and practices. The first granted the Ombudsman Office-which has failed to act as a check on the executive-powers to participate in criminal investigations, and the second removed the deputy attorney general, who had been recently appointed by Luisa Ortega Dìaz, from office.

Luisa Ortega Dìaz responded by accusing the Supreme Court of violating the Constitution – citing repressed demonstrations, military court trials of civilians, searches without judicial warrants and a lack of evidence against those accused of committing crimes.  She is quoted as stating that, “the right to participate and to choose has been undermined by the government”.

It is the Law Society’s understanding that on June 28, 2017, the Supreme Court issued precautionary measures, forbidding Luisa Ortega Dìaz from leaving the country and freezing her assets and bank accounts.

The Law Society of Upper Canada is deeply troubled by Luisa Ortega Dìaz’s treatment, particularly in light of reports of increasing social and political unrest and threats to the rule of law in Venezuela.  Human Rights Watch reports, “…the judiciary has ceased to function as an independent branch of government.  Members of the Supreme Court have openly rejected the principle of separation of powers, and publicly pledged their commitment to advancing the government’s political agenda.”[1]Furthermore, in the wake of nationwide demonstrations, hundreds of civilians have been prosecuted in military courts in Venezuela, in violation of both Venezuelan and international law.[2]  Human Rights Watch notes that there is no public record of these proceedings and accounts from lawyers and family members include “…many disturbing allegations of abuses and procedural defects in the conduct of these prosecutions…”[3]

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147504053

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147504053&langtype=1036 (FRANCAIS)

 

Russia: Enemy of the State — Putin’s loudest critic

August 7, 2017

Image result for alexei navalny

On June 12th, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Moscow chanting “Putin is a crook” and “Russia without Putin!” The protesters, predominantly 16-27 year olds, flooded Tverskaya Street, a main artery leading to Red Square, waving Russian flags and holding signs that read “Navalny 2018.” As a helicopter buzzed overhead, it didn’t take long for riot police to move in, batons drawn.

By the end of the day, there were more than 1,000 arrests across Russia. The protests were inspired by a 41-year-old lawyer turned anti-corruption crusader named Alexei Navalny. He has announced plans to challenge Vladimir Putin in Russia’s presidential election next March, but the Central Electoral Commission has suggested that an embezzlement conviction (which Navalny claims was politically prosecuted) may prevent him from running. Navalny hopes that by gathering enough support across the country, he can force the Kremlin to allow him to run.

“CBSN: On Assignment” spent a week with Alexei Navalny before the protests, in his Moscow office and on the campaign trail. “It’s not about playing [a] game,” Navalny told correspondent Ryan Chilcote. “It’s not saying something or making rallies. We are really making this political work to win and without any doubts this corrupt regime will be crushed and another man will become president of Russia.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/enemy-of-the-state-putins-loudest-critic/

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/russia-anti-corruption-crusader-alexei-navalny-takes-on-putin-looks-to-the-future/

https://www.ft.com/content/16df421e-72c1-11e7-aca6-c6bd07df1a3c

https://www.ft.com/content/0e7d158a-bb2c-4c42-b357-4b0867a71a04

https://themoscowtimes.com/news/navalny-volunterrs-face-legal-troubles-58589

(N.B. Alexei Navalny is a lawyer and opposition leader.)

The Philippines: ‘Sereno working to free de Lima’ – sources

August 7, 2017

Image result for Sen. Leila de Lima

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is pushing for the release from jail of detained Sen. Leila de Lima over drug-related charges, Supreme Court sources told The Manila Times.

The sources claimed Sereno had been convincing justices to clear de Lima, supposedly in exchange for help in case an impeachment complaint against the chief justice is elevated to the Senate.

The 15-man Supreme Court is divided on whether or not there is probable cause to charge de Lima for drug-related cases, and whether or not the Muntinlupa regional trial court (RTC), not the Sandiganbayan, has jurisdiction over the cases, the sources said.

One of the sources said a 40-page draft ponencia or ruling by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. had been circulated among the magistrates.

Velasco recommended that de Lima’s petition to junk her cases be dismissed for lack of merit, upholding the Department of Justice’s authority to file the drug-related charges against her before the Muntinlupa City RTC.

http://www.manilatimes.net/sereno-working-free-de-lima-sources/343080/

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/leila-de-lima-arrested-philippines-170224003808389.html

(N.B. Sen. Leila de Lima is a former human rights lawyer)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leila_de_Lima

Vietnam: Trump blamed for surging crackdown on Vietnamese dissidents

August 8, 2017

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, the 61-year-old mother of imprisoned Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, has struggled to cope since her daughter was sentenced to 10 years in jail for her anti-government advocacy in June.

Unemployed and left to provide for Quynh’s two small children, Lan said the future looks bleak.

“My life has been upside-down since my daughter was arrested and jailed,” she said. “I am trying to pass this life day by day, but I don’t know how long I can stand it.”

Quynh – also known by her pen name Mother Mushroom – was sentenced on June 29, at the beginning of a nationwide crackdown on dissidents that has been draconian even by Vietnam’s standards.

The country is ruled by a single-party communist state that broadly criminalizes dissent.

Five days before Quynh’s conviction, activist Pham Minh Hoang, a Vietnamese-born French national whose Vietnamese citizenship was forcibly revoked earlier that month, was deported to Paris, separating him from his family.

Fresh charges, arrests and convictions against at least eight more dissidents followed in July.

The recent crackdown has cast a wide net, with targets ranging from bloggers to lawyers.

On July 24, Vietnamese police arrested Le Dinh Luong on charges of attempting to “overthrow” the government. A day later, activist Tran Thi Nga was sentenced to nine years in prison on anti-state charges.

Two activists, including high-profile human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and his colleague Le Thu Ha, were charged on July 30 with attempting to “overthrow” the government. Four activists connected with Dai were also arrested the same day on the same charge.

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/asia/vietnam/2017/08/08/499883/p1/trump-blamed.htm

https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2017/08/03/vietnam-emboldened-u-s-backtracking-civil-rights-abroad/

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam/arrests-07312017161059.html

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-31/vietnam-arrests-4-activists-accused-of-attempted-subversion

http://www.dw.com/en/vietnam-arrests-more-dissidents/a-39895653

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/08/08/australia-vietnam-human-rights-dialogue

Pakistan: Quetta tragedy: PBC to observe countrywide strike today

August 8, 2017

Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has announced to observe countrywide strike and mourning day on the first anniversary of martyrs of Quetta tragedy.

At least 60 advocates were martyred and over a hundreds were injured in terrorist attack in Quetta on August 8, 2016.

The PBC vice-chairman Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon and chairman, executive committee Hafeez-ur-Rehman in a statement said that the lawyers throughout Pakistan will observe full day strike and mourning day on Tuesday and will hold condolence references and meetings for martyred advocates in their bar rooms.

http://dunyanews.tv/en/Pakistan/400403-Quetta-tragedy-PBC-to-observe-countrywide-strike-

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/08/08/lawyers-community-observing-black-day-today-to-mark-quetta-civil-hospital-tragedy/

http://pakobserver.net/pbc-observe-strike-today/

http://nation.com.pk/national/08-Aug-2017/strike-shakes-lawyers-unity

https://www.geo.tv/latest/152831-over-honour-man-shoots-dead-sister-in-multan-court

https://www.samaa.tv/pakistan/2017/08/bilawal-pays-tribute-to-martyred-quetta-lawyers/

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/08/08/lawyers-observe-strike-to-condemn-quetta-carnage/

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/shutdown-on-first-anniversary-of-quetta-bombing-117080801623_1.html

http://zeenews.india.com/world/shutdown-on-first-anniversary-of-quetta-bombing-2031309.html

Pakistan: Quetta tragedy: PBC to observe countrywide strike today

August 8, 2017

Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has announced to observe countrywide strike and mourning day on the first anniversary of martyrs of Quetta tragedy.

At least 60 advocates were martyred and over a hundreds were injured in terrorist attack in Quetta on August 8, 2016.

The PBC vice-chairman Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon and chairman, executive committee Hafeez-ur-Rehman in a statement said that the lawyers throughout Pakistan will observe full day strike and mourning day on Tuesday and will hold condolence references and meetings for martyred advocates in their bar rooms.

http://dunyanews.tv/en/Pakistan/400403-Quetta-tragedy-PBC-to-observe-countrywide-strike-

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/08/08/lawyers-community-observing-black-day-today-to-mark-quetta-civil-hospital-tragedy/

http://pakobserver.net/pbc-observe-strike-today/

http://nation.com.pk/national/08-Aug-2017/strike-shakes-lawyers-unity

https://www.geo.tv/latest/152831-over-honour-man-shoots-dead-sister-in-multan-court

Pakistan: Quetta tragedy: PBC to observe countrywide strike today

August 8, 2017

Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has announced to observe countrywide strike and mourning day on the first anniversary of martyrs of Quetta tragedy.

At least 60 advocates were martyred and over a hundreds were injured in terrorist attack in Quetta on August 8, 2016.

The PBC vice-chairman Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon and chairman, executive committee Hafeez-ur-Rehman in a statement said that the lawyers throughout Pakistan will observe full day strike and mourning day on Tuesday and will hold condolence references and meetings for martyred advocates in their bar rooms.

http://dunyanews.tv/en/Pakistan/400403-Quetta-tragedy-PBC-to-observe-countrywide-strike-

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/08/08/lawyers-community-observing-black-day-today-to-mark-quetta-civil-hospital-tragedy/

http://pakobserver.net/pbc-observe-strike-today/

http://nation.com.pk/national/08-Aug-2017/strike-shakes-lawyers-unity

https://www.geo.tv/latest/152831-over-honour-man-shoots-dead-sister-in-multan-court

Singapore: Criminal and Human Rights Lawyer Fined $6,000 for a Poem on Death Penalty that “Scandalised the Judicary”

August 7, 2017

Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, a prominent criminal and human rights lawyer, was found guilty of contempt of court and fined $6,000 by Justice See Kee Oon in the High Court earlier today for a poem he penned. The poem, which concerned the “cruel and unjust law” (i.e. Misuse of Drugs Act) that led to the hanging of Mr Thuraisingam’s client, Ridzuan, was published on his Facebook page a few hours before Ridzuan’s execution at 6am on 19 May 2017.

Our five stars dim tonight.
Our son will be no more.
Killed at the hands of strangers.
At the orders of those who do not care.

Our five stars dim tonight.
For a cruel and unjust law.
The fate of a life, in the hands of one.
Who himself doesn’t really care.

Our five stars dim tonight.
With our million dollar men turned blind. 
Pretending not to see.
Ministers, Judges and Lawyers. 
Same as the accumulators of wealth.
Hiding in the dimness, like rats scavenging for scraps.
When does the new car come?

Our five stars dim tonight.
For a law that makes no sense.
A law that is cruel and unjust. 
Just as its makers, executors stand.
Jeffrey has died. Ridzuan is next.
Killed not in our names, but by the decree of one.

Fear not my friend, we tread through this darkness.
The sons of this soil have spoken.
Regardless of race. Regardless of language. Regardless of religion.
As our lungs shout as one, the stars will shine again!

The people have spoken.

The underlined parts were found to be in contempt of court. In the AGC’s opinion, the excerpt, when read by the average reasonable man, would be interpreted to mean that judges have subordinated their judicial duty to financial greed. The defence revealed that on 29 May, the AGC requested the Law Society to refer Mr Thuraisingam to a Disciplinary Tribunal. The Law Society who then informed Mr Thuraisingam that the AGC found his poem to be in contempt.

https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2017/08/07/criminal-and-human-rights-lawyer-fined-6000-for-a-poem-on-death-penalty-that-scandalised-the-judicary/

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/lawyer-eugene-thuraisingam-fined-s-6-000-for-contempt-of-court-9099504

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/lawyer-fined-6000-for-contempt-of-court-over-facebook-post-on-death-penalty

http://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/lawyer-eugene-thuraisingam-rare-case-court-contempt

https://thuraisingam.com/

https://thuraisingam.com/our_peoples/eugene-thuraisingam/

Venezuela: Dueling factions in Venezuela stake claims at power

August 8, 2017

Venezuela

Pro- and anti-government factions dug themselves further into their trenches Monday amid Venezuela’s deepening political crisis, with each side staking a claim to the powers granted them by dueling national assemblies.

The new chief prosecutor who replaced an outspoken government critic outlined plans for restructuring the Public Ministry, while the opposition-controlled National Assembly vowed to continue meeting at the stately legislative palace — a short walk across a plaza from where the all-powerful constitutional assembly is expected to hold its next meeting Tuesday.

National Assembly president Julio Borges told fellow lawmakers they should keep an active presence in the building despite threats from the new assembly to swiftly strip them of any authority and lock up key leaders. Borges called the building, with its gold cupola, the “symbol of popular sovereignty.”

“We are a testament to the fight for democracy,” he said at a meeting cobbled together amid mounting uncertainty about the legislature’s future. “It should be known this assembly was true to its mandate.”

In theory, both the National Assembly and the pro-government constitutional assembly can rule simultaneously, but the new super body created through a July 30 election that drew international condemnation has the authority to trump any other branch of government — and Venezuela’s leaders have promised to do just that.

Since its installation Friday, the constitutional assembly has signaled that it will act swiftly in response to President Nicolas Maduro’s commands, which have included calls to strip legislators of their constitutional immunity from prosecution.

National Assembly members voted unanimously not to recognize any of the new super-body’s decisions, which include removing chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz from power and installing a “truth commission” that will wield unusual authority to prosecute and levy sentences.

Ortega Diaz’s replacement, Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, who was recently sanctioned by Washington for failing to protect protesters from abuses in his role as the nation’s top human rights official, appeared on state television to both chastise the leader of the agency he will oversee and announce his plans to revamp it.

He criticized Ortega Diaz for “fanning the flames” of political conflict in Venezuela and said he would proceed with a “logical restructuring” of an office he deemed overly political and bureaucratic.

Ortega Diaz is not recognizing Saab as chief prosecutor, and both opposition leaders and foreign dignitaries have said they will not acknowledge him as Venezuela’s top law enforcement official.

John Magdaleno, director of the Caracas-based consulting firm POLITY, said that rather than having co-existing assemblies and chief prosecutors, it is more likely that opposition-controlled institutions will be rendered powerless as Maduro’s administration further consolidates Venezuela into an authoritarian state.

http://www.heraldandnews.com/dueling-factions-in-venezuela-stake-claims-at-power/article_3eba3a63-f9e3-5278-8fca-4b64892b7748.html

http://www.euronews.com/2017/08/08/venezeulas-new-chief-prosecutor-blames-ousted-ortega-for-violence

http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/08/08/venezuela-legislature-stormed-pro-maduro-officials-opposition

http://www.dailyastorian.com/powerful-venezuela-assembly-meets-again-as-pressure-mounts-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-worlde83040fc23934e73ac163d85e247675b

http://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-world/article165807257.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/07/venezuela-military-attack-country-could-be-close-to-civil-war.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/07/what-price-democracy-amid-venezuelas-political-turmoil

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21948&LangID=E

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11900406

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2017/08/08/its-time-for-maduro-to-go/

https://elpais.com/elpais/2017/08/10/inenglish/1502361209_348789.html

http://www.lavanguardia.com/internacional/20170808/43426503647/parlamento-venezolano-denuncia-asalto-guardia-nacional-hemiciclo.html (ESPANOL)

https://www.bastamag.net/Venezuela-Defendre-le-gouvernement-releve-d-un-aveuglement-ideologique-nefaste (FRANCAIS)

https://www.franceinter.fr/monde/au-venezuela-le-president-maduro-derive-vers-un-regime-autoritaire (FRANCAIS)

https://www.slate.fr/story/149544/venezuela-gouvernement-maduro (FRANCAIS)

http://www.leparisien.fr/international/le-venezuela-glisse-vers-la-dictature-07-08-2017-7179450.php (FRANCAIS)

http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/dossiers-pays/venezuela/evenements/article/venezuela-q-r-extrait-du-point-de-presse-du-7-aout-2017 (FRANCAIS)

http://www.lalibre.be/actu/international/avec-maduro-le-pouvoir-venezuelien-prend-un-air-de-dictature-598758e6cd70d65d2538ee62 (FRANCAIS)

http://www.leconomiste.com/article/1015920-venezuela-le-president-maduro-etend-son-pouvoir (FRANCAIS)

https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/080817/la-tentation-du-national-stalinisme-au-venezuela (FRANCAIS)

http://www.rfi.fr/ameriques/20170809-venezuela-assemblee-constituante-s-octroie-pleins-pouvoirs (FRANCAIS)

http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/staatskrise-in-venezuela-der-widerstand-handelt-auf-eigene.1773.de.html?dram:article_id=392955 (DEUTSCH)

https://extra.globo.com/noticias/mundo/venezuelacorri-riscos-por-justica-transparente-diz-juiz-fugitivo-21680801.html (PORTUGUES)

http://exame.abril.com.br/brasil/com-brasil-a-frente-uma-uniao-contra-maduro/ (PORTUGUES)