August 19, 2017
Venezuela’s former top prosecutor Luisa Ortega arrived in Colombia on Friday after taking a dramatic boat journey from the troubled country.
Migration authorities in Bogota confirmed her arrival.
It comes after she was fired by a controversial new legislative superbody and said she feared for her life.
Univision reported that Ms Ortega fled in a speedboat to Aruba, where she caught a private plane to Bogota.
Ms Ortega broke with socialist President Nicolas Maduro in late March and became a vocal critic of his unpopular government, eventually going into hiding after the newly elected constituent assembly fired her earlier this month.
The assembly fired Ms Ortega during its first session on August 5, but she and some governments in the region have refused to accept the body’s decisions.
“This afternoon the attorney general of Venezuela Luisa Ortega Diaz arrived from Aruba in a private plane to Bogota’s airport and completed the corresponding migration process,” Colombia’s migration agency said in a statement.
She was accompanied by her husband, the legislator German Ferrer, the statement added. It was not clear whether the couple were seeking asylum in Colombia.
The 59-year-old told Reuters in an interview this month that she feared the government would “deprive me of my life.”
August 18, 2017
A chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Friday condemned the killing of a Palawan lawyer handling high profile cases in the province.
Lawyer Hermie Aban was shot dead on Tuesday by a motorcycle-riding gunman in Barangay Bancao-Bancao.
“In a spate of murders of lawyers and judges, we are outraged at the impunity of the offenders,” the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Western Visayas said in a statement.
The organization called on authorities to arrest the perpetrators “so that cases may be filed and justice will prevail.”
“In an environment of senseless violence, the IBP stands firm in its commitment to the rule of law. Members of the IBP will continue to help the courts, clients and the public in accordance with our sacred oath,” the IBP chapter said.
Aban had handled drug cases and used to be the one of the lawyers of former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes, who is facing a murder case for the killing of environmentalist and broadcaster Gerry Ortega in 2011.
August 18, 2017
The Iranian regime has increasingly focused on clamping down on anyone who speaks out against the human rights abuses of its ruling class. One of the key areas where this is demonstrated is in the trials of these individuals. Many lack basic legal representation, and the proceedings are brief. If they do have legal representation, there are often hurdles for them to meet with their lawyers and having access to court files delayed.
Human rights lawyers who speak out against torture and unfair trials have also faced harassment, disbarment, and imprisonment. Trials of human rights defenders generally take place in a climate of fear.
Amnesty International recently launched a global campaign ‘Brave’, calling for an end to attacks against those defending human rights worldwide.
“It is a bitter irony that as the Iranian authorities boast about their increased engagement with the UN and the EU, particularly in the aftermath of the nuclear deal, human rights defenders who have made contact with these same institutions are being treated as criminals,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Iran Vilifies Human Rights Defenders as ‘Enemies of the State’
August 19, 2017
“In China, we say that for a person meditating in a cave, a day passes as though it were a thousand years; it is like paradise. And where did I experience paradise? In there in the detention center, being tortured. A day was like a thousand years. That’s how it felt.”
The disturbingly aged and altered face of the human rights lawyer sharing this observation gave me a sense of what he had been through during his most recent detention, and what colleagues who remained ‘in there,’ including Jiang Tianyong and Wang Quanzhang, might still be suffering.
Like my interlocutor, they are victims of the latest attack on this tiny and embattled section of the Chinese legal profession. The 709 Crackdown —so called after the date it began, on the night of 7 July 2015 when Lawyers Wang Yu, Bao Longjun and their child were detained—has been the largest so far and now affects hundreds of lawyers. Lawyer Wang Yu in her testimony published on 12 July and other lawyers including Xie Yang have disclosed some details about their experience of detention and forced disappearance, coercive interrogation and torture, and informal house arrests.
During some recent chats about their experience of the criminal justice’system as suspects, defendants, and defence lawyers in the 709 Crackdown, my interlocutors mentioned details that sounded grimly familiar.
Robert Fulford: China’s leader Xi Jinping has assumed the role of a dictator
Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores is a passionate and dedicated human rights lawyer. As the legal director of the Centre for Environmental, Social and Legal Action (CALAS), Rafael provides environment and water defenders with legal counsel to help them protect their rights to a healthy environment and freedom of expression, and defends their rights as Indigenous peoples.
But someone wants to stop Rafael’s and CALAS’ important work.
For several years, Rafael and his colleagues have been threatened and harassed outside their homes, at work, in public spaces, in newspaper articles and over social media.
• In April 2017 someone fired shots outside Rafael’s house
• In November 2016 22 year-old staffer Jeremy Barrios was murdered in Guatemala City
• In 2008 Executive Director Dr Yuri Melini was shot several times and survived
Despite these threats and attacks, the Guatemalan government has not brought anyone to justice nor has it provided adequate protection for Rafael and his colleagues.