Monthly Archives: April 2018

China: Tianjin Police ‘Investigate’ Colleagues of Detained Human Rights Lawyer

April 30, 2018

Two police officers from Tianjin ask Cheng Hai for evidence against Wang Quanzhang at his home in Hefei, April 26, 2018.

Authorities in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin have launched an “investigation” into detained human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, nearly three years after his incommunicado detention amid a nationwide police operation in 2015.

Wang was initially detained amid a wave of police raids launched in July 2015 on suspicion of “incitement to subvert state power.”

Lawyers, friends and relatives have made more than 50 attempts to visit him in detention since then, and his wife Li Wenzu has been repeatedly harassed for speaking out on behalf of her husband.

Li has herself been targeted for repeated harassment by police, who have forced her to leave rented accommodations several times since his detention, by putting pressure on her landlords.

Wang once worked for the now-shuttered Fengrui law firm, the first target of police raids and detentions in July 2015 that broadened into a nationwide operation targeting more than 300 lawyers, law firm staff and associated rights activists for detention, professional sanctions, house arrest, and travel bans, including for family members.

Last week, Tianjin police traveled to the southwestern city of Kunming in a bid to interview fellow rights attorney Lin Qilei, who was appointed to defend Wang but denied access to his client, as a “witness” in the case, Lin told RFA.

He said he had refused to cooperate. (ITALIANO) (DEUTSCH)

Maldives: Rule of law and freedom under attack in the Maldives

April 30, 2018


THE government of the Maldives is undermining the rule of law and attacking fundamental freedoms as part of their ongoing crackdown on critics and opposition members, a new report from rights groups has found.

President Abdulla Yameen is leading an attack on “on all forms of dissent” which threatens the country’s ability to hold “free, fair and inclusive” elections, according to authors of the report, Civicus and Voice of Women (VoW).

After ignoring a Supreme Court ruling to release his political opponents, Yameen then implemented a nationwide state of emergency to quash protests taking place in the capital Male. In doing so, the president suspended several constitutional rights and gave himself sweeping powers to arrest and detain.

SEE ALSO: Fighting Totalitarianism: Maldivians refuse to buckle under president’s autocracy

Two Supreme court judges remain in custody despite international calls for them to be released. They have been charged under terrorism laws for trying to overthrow the government. All deny the charges.

Click to access PolicyBrief.MaldivesApril2018.pdf

Qatar: Human rights lawyer Dr. Najeeb Al-Nuaimi protests travel ban imposed on him

April 30, 2018

Prominent human rights lawyer Dr. Najeeb Al-Nuaimi has complained about a travel ban imposed on him in Qatar. He released a statement on 28 April 2018 explaining, “In order to obstruct me and cause an altercation, the Attorney General of Qatar issued a decree preventing me from leaving the country and then made a malicious complaint against me. … I resorted to the judiciary, which was fair with me by acquitting me of the charges of slander made by the Attorney General, and the Court of Appeal issued a decision to cancel the travel ban issued against me. ”

“But the Attorney General, with government approval, has continued to flagrantly violate the principles of the Constitution and Qatari laws, and has grossly violated the human rights for which they hold international conferences in Qatar, and applied on me a blockade similar to the blockade imposed on Qatar,” he said.

“I will seek all my rights by all legal means available abroad, and I will resort to all means to obtain my rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the country,” he concluded.

Notably, on 26 June 2017, Capital Security Administration informed Dr. Al-Nuaimi that the travel ban previously imposed on him on 07 January 2017 had been renewed despite the fact that the Appeal Court in Qatar revoked it on 30 May 2017.

On 07 February 2017, authorities in Qatar prevented Dr. Al-Nuaimi from travelling without informing him about any possible reasons. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received reports confirming that the Attorney General of Qatar, Ali Al-Marri, has placed Dr. Al-Nuaimi on the list of individuals who are not allowed to travel outside the country – without any prior clarification or directing any charges against him.

Dr.  Al-Nuaimi is a well-known human rights lawyer who voluntarily defended prisoners of conscience in Qatar including poet Mohamed Rashid Al-Ajami. Al-Ajami was handed down a life sentence in 2011, which was reduced to 15 years in prison, because of a poem he wrote. He was only released in 2016 after serving five years in prison.

Click to access EN_HRL_20180507_Qatar_Travel-ban-imposed-on-human-rights-lawyer-Dr-Najeeb-Al-Nuaimi.pdf (ARABIC)

Syria: ‘A person who believed’: Remembering Razan Zaitouneh on her 41st birthday

April 29, 2018

One by one, prisoners exited government buses into a packed auditorium in Damascus earlier this month. Many of the detainees, formerly held by an Islamist rebel faction in East Ghouta, were set to rejoin their family and friends for the first time in years.

Jaish al-Islam, a once-powerful armed group in the suburbs east of Damascus, surrendered the city of Douma to the Syrian government in mid-April. As part of the deal, the rebels agreed to release all detainees they had accumulated over the past seven years.

For Suad Khabeia and other Syrian activists, the April 8 prisoner release in Damascus was the last glimmer of hope that they might see disappeared civil society activist Razan Zaitouneh again.

But although Jaish al-Islam had long boasted of holding thousands of prisoners, only 200 people were released before the faction’s fighters left for northern Syria alongside thousands of civilians earlier this month.

Zaitouneh, a Syrian lawyer and human rights advocate who gained international recognition for her civil society work in the wake of the 2011 Syrian revolution, was not among them.  

“Hope has withered away for most people,” Khabeia tells Syria Direct’s Noura al-Hourani from her home in Cairo, Egypt. Khabeia met Zaitouneh at a demonstration in Damascus in 2001 and worked with her for years before leaving Syria.

Zaitouneh founded the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) in April 2011—just after mass anti-government protests began in Syria—to track and report human rights abuses in the country by all parties.

Then, On December 9, 2013, masked gunmen raided the offices of the VDC in Douma and kidnapped four of its members: Zaitouneh, her husband Wael Hamada, Samira al-Khalil and Nazim Hamadi.  

Collectively known as the “Douma Four,” the kidnapped activists were never heard from again. Zaitouneh’s family—along with many other activists and humanitarian organizations—hold Jaish al-Islam responsible for the kidnappings, a claim that the rebel group categorically denies.

Today, on what would be Razan Zaitouneh’s 41st birthday—more than four years after the disappearance of the Douma Four—Khabeia reflects on her friend and colleague’s legacy. (FRANCAIS)

Cameroon: Crise anglophone: des victimes demandent réparation, Agbor Balla et Fontem Neba dans leur viseur

le 27 avril, 2018

L’avocat Agbor Balla et l’enseignant Fontem Neba sont à l’origine des villes mortes qui ont secouées les régions du Nord-Ouest et du Sud-Ouest en fin d’année 2016, au plus fort de la contestation corporatiste de leurs deux corps de métier.

On l’a appris mercredi au cours du procès de Mancho Bibixy et de six autres émeutiers reconnus coupables de sécession, l’avocat Nkongho Agbor Balla et l’enseignant Fontem Neba pourraient être appelés à dédommager des victimes des émeutes de décembre à décembre. Les avocats de la partie civile l’ont indiqué mercredi alors qu’ils présentaient le montant des indemnités qu’ils désirent, soit 579 millions de Francs CFA.

C’est qu’agissant  par le canal du Consortium – une organisation critiquée par le gouvernement pour s’être livrée à la «surenchère» dans les négociations et interdite d’activités le 18 janvier dernier – ces deux leaders de la contestation anglophone avaient lancé des avis à ville morte qui ont été observés les 09, 16 et 17 janvier 2017.

Lire aussi: Cameroun: les régions anglophones paralysées par les « villes mortes »

Ils ont par conséquent été arrêtés, incarcérés à Kondengui et jugés au Tribunal militaire de Yaoundé pour hostilité contre la patrie, outrage aux corps constitués et aux fonctionnaires, rébellion, dégradation des biens publics, pillage en bande, coaction des actes de terrorisme, sécession, révolution, insurrection, excitation à la guerre civile, et propagation de fausses nouvelles. Ils étaient poursuivis aux côtés de Mancho Bibixy et d’une vingtaine de jeunes arrêtés dans plusieurs villes du Cameroun.

Nkongho Agbor Balla et Fontem Neba sont libres depuis le 31 août 2017. Ils ont bénéficié de du décret présidentiel qui instituait l’arrêt des poursuites contre certains manifestants anglophones. Pour la partie civile, cela n’empêche pas une quelconque action civile contre eux. Pour le démontrer, elle s’appuie sur l’article 63 du code de procédure pénale. Lequel stipule que : « Lorsqu’une juridiction a été saisie à la fois de l’action publique et de l’action civile, la survenance d’un des événements prévus à l’article 62 [mort de l’accusé, prescription, amnistie…] laisse subsister l’action civile, sauf dans le cas visé à l’alinéa 1 (h) [retrait de la plainte, désistement de la partie civile] dudit article. La juridiction saisie statue sur celle-ci.»

Les victimes réclament la somme de 375 millions de Francs CFA pour le dédommagement du propriétaire de l’immeuble dans lequel était abrité le commissariat du 3e arrondissement de Bamenda incendié, l’hospitalisation d’au moins deux jeunes filles, la dégradation du véhicule d’un officier. A cela s’ajoute la somme de 204 millions de Francs CFA demandée par l’Etat du Cameroun pour la construction d’un nouveau commissariat, l’indemnité après les pertes de recettes dues au pillages des boutiques, et la dégradation de certaines routes à Bamenda. (ENGLISH)


April 27, 2018


Human rights defender and lawyer Nelson La Madrid has been receiving threatening calls and messages since he filed a lawsuit against Bolivia’s National Electricity Company (Empresa Nacional de Electricidad de Bolivia) on 28 March 2018. The lawsuit is aimed at preventing the construction of the Rositas Hydroelectric Project on the basis that it has not received free, prior and informed consent by the affected indigenous communities.

Nelson La Madrid is a lawyer and human rights defender in Cochambamba, Bolivia, who is legally representing the Guaraní indigenous communities of Tatarenda Nuevo and Yumao in the trial, which is expected to begin on 4 April 2018. The human rights defender is assisting these indigenous communities, which reside in Santa Cruz Province, to challenge the construction of the Rositas Hydroelectric Project (Proyecto Hidroeléctrico Rositas) before the courts.


On Monday 30 April 2018, the new judge assigned to review the Rositas Hydroelectric Project case will hold a hearing to decide the merits of the popular action submitted by the Guaraní indigenous communities of Tatarenda Nuevo and Yumao.

Human rights defender, Nelson La Madrid, is providing legal representation for both communities in their case against Bolivia’s Electric National Company (Empresa Nacional de Electricidad de Bolivia ENDE) to stop Rositas Hydroelectric Project. The human rights defender has highlighted that now two judges have recused themselves from the case in the last month, claiming that it is outside their jurisdictions. Nelson La Madrid believes that pressure and intimidation by ENDE’s legal team and the Attorney General’s Office, led to both judges decision to step down from the case.

Listen to a recent interview with Nelson on #RightsOnTheLinePodcast:

Pakistan/LRWC: Prevent and Punish Unlawful Killings of Lawyers | Letter

April 24, 2018

Image result for lawyers rights watch canada

LRWC calls on the Government of Pakistan to fulfill its international law obligations to prevent and punish the unlawful killings of lawyers.  The LRWC letter refers to the unlawful killing of 61 lawyers in Pakistan that have not been remedied through investigations and trials resulting in the identification and punishment of the perpetrators. In addition Pakistan has not responded to the wave of murders with effective protection measures for lawyers. The impunity coupled with lack of preventative measures appear to contribute to the continuing wave of lethal attacks on lawyers in Pakistan.

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers and other human rights defenders who promote international human rights, the rule of law, and the integrity of legal systems through advocacy, education and legal research. LRWC is a volunteer-run NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

LRWC condemns the murder of lawyer Zainullah Khan that took place on 30 March 2018 in Swabi, in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pakistan. According to reports Zainullah Khan was shot and killed when he was returning home via Jehangira Road when unidentified attackers in a vehicle open fired at Mr. Khan killing him on the spot while the attackers escaped. Lawyers have called on the provincial government to provide safety to lawyers, Mr. Khan’s murder is one of many cases in which lawyers have been targeted and killed in the area.

LRWC is alarmed by the continued targeted assassinations of lawyers in Pakistan and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators as a result of Government inaction.

Six lawyers killed in Pakistan in the past 11 months:

Cameroon/LRWC: Immediately End Judicial Harassment and Guarantee Protection of Jan Capelle, Elvis Brown and other OFFGO members | Letter

April 26, 2018

In Cameroon, Jan Cappelle, founder of OFFGO, an organization opposing land grabbing and promoting perservationi of farm land and gorilla habitat, and OFFGO’s lawyer Elvis Brown face death threats for pursuing a complaint with the National Commission On Human Rights and Freedoms. State authorities have subjected Jan Chapelle and other OFFGO members to detention, interrogation and threatened prosecution for their peaceful advocacy. LRWC calls on Cameroon to protect the lives of Chapelle and Brown, to prevent future and punish past death threats, and stop the harassment.

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers and other human rights defenders who promote international human rights, the rule of law, and the integrity of legal systems through advocacy, education and legal research. LRWC is a volunteer-run NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

LRWC is concerned by reports of death threats against Mr. Jan Cappelle, founder of OFFGO and lawyer Elvis Brown and persistent judicial harassment of OFFGO members. LRWC repeats calls by the Observatory for remedial action and also requests immediate action by the Government of Cameroon to protect the lives of Jan Cappelle and Elvis Brown and their families and to prevent and punish the death threats made against them.

Reports of death threats and judicial harassment

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and has also requested your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cameroon.

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment and death threats targeting several members of the OFFGO, a group of farmers founded in September 2015 to promote organic farming and environmental protection, and to oppose land grabbing and work for the protection of the cross-river gorilla in Mbengwi, in the North-West Region of Cameroon.

According to the information received, on April 13, 2018, a man who allegedly worked with billionaire businessman Mr. Baba Ahmadou Danpullo called and threatened to kill OFFGO’s lawyer Mr. Elvis Brown and his family if they did not “drop the file”, referring to OFFGO’s complaints before the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF). The caller knew details of the presence of Mr. Brown and his family in Bamenda, including related to their home and the children’s school. He also threatened to kill Mr. Jan Cappelle, founder of OFFGO.

A complaint was filed before the Police National Security Department in Mbengwi, who latter summoned the caller to present himself by April 18, 2018. The caller, who received the summons on April 16, 2018, did not present himself.

On April 18, 2018, the same person called Mr. Elvis Brown again and told him to “prepare very well”. On April 19, 2018, Mr. Elvis Brown received another text message reading “watch and see how I make your team suffer”, “you should be sorry for your friends back here. I am merciless”, “I am heartless I have no feelings” and “I will teach your team a bitter lesson. You will all suffer for destabilising Cameroon”.

The Philippines: SC magistrates to vote on Sereno ouster on May 11 – source

April 27, 2018

Supreme Court magistrates will vote on the quo warranto case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno earlier than the original date agreed upon.

A well-placed ABS-CBN News source bared the voting will now be on May 11, instead of the original May 17 schedule. The voting will coincide with the submission of separate concurring and dissenting opinions.

The source bared the move will ensure that no news leaks will happen on the stand of the respective magistrates. Once separate opinions are in, the position and vote of the magistrates who wrote these opinions would already be known and sticking to the May 17 original schedule will likely lead to leaks ahead of the actual voting.

Associate Justice Noel Tijam, the justice to whom the case was raffled to, was set to circulate his final draft decision on Thursday, April 26, instead of the original April 23 target.

Tijam’s first 60-page draft grants the OSG plea, declaring Sereno’s appointment on August 24, 2012 null and void due to her failure to meet the eligibility requirement set by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) upon her application for the top judicial post in 2012.

The draft decision states the order is “immediately executory,” even though Sereno may still file a motion for reconsideration.

The petition was initiated by Solicitor General Jose Calida who has argued that Sereno must be immediately ousted for “unlawfully holding the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court” for failure to submit the required Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) under oath for a period of 10 years preceding her application for Chief Justice.

Nigeria: Melaye: NBA sets up defence team for detained lawyers

April 27, 2018

Melaye: NBA sets up defence team for detained lawyers

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abuja Branch has set up a defence team for their colleagues detained in connection with the arrest of Senator Dino Melaye.

In a statement signed by the branch’s Human Rights Committee Secretary, Julius Atanawhemera Esq, the association calls for experienced volunteers to indicate interest to join the defence team through the office of the Vice Chairman.
David Amaefula and Pius Udo-Inyang, who are of the law firm of Messrs Rickey Tarfa & Co. Abuja Office, were on Tuesday April 24 arrested by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) office Guzape after they were dispatched to the Zankli Medical Centre, Mabushi, Abuja to secure justice for Senator Melaye, who was being admitted there.
Melaye, who was prevented from travelling to Morocco at the airport after he was declared wanted by the Kogi State Command of the Nigeria Police, was said to have sustained injuries on jumping out from a vehicle, which the police say was conveying him to a court in Lokoja.
According to the NBA, Amaefule was assigned to the hospital but his whereabout became unknown that same day as his phone were unreachable.