Daily Archives: 29/06/2018

Moldova: UN expert urges Moldova to end its “punitive attitude” to human rights defenders

June 29, 2018

Image result for un office on human rights

The Government of Moldova must adopt a more positive approach to human rights defenders and publicly recognize the crucial role played by civil society, says a UN human rights expert.

“Despite a globally satisfactory legislative framework, the situation of human rights defenders requires improvement in the Republic of Moldova,” says UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst in a statement ending his first official visit to the country.

“Human rights defenders and journalists are victims of stigmatization campaigns, lawyers face politically motivated criminal charges or are threatened whenever they defend people with dissenting voices, and journalists’ access to information is restricted,” he added.

“Moreover, officials from Moldova’s National Human Rights Institutions feel disregarded in practice,” said Mr. Forst, the Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights defenders.

“The Government must end its punitive attitude towards human rights defenders, and embrace a more supportive approach to civil society in spite of possible disagreements and criticism” said Mr. Forst.

“While civil society organizations and human rights defenders have the right to freely conduct their human rights work and the Government has publicly declared its openness to engage with them, in practice human rights defenders face several challenges,” Mr. Forst emphasized.

“I have received allegations of intimidation and threats towards human rights defenders by public authorities, particularly after having expressed criticism of decisions taken by the Government,” he said.


Poland: Press release on the proposed reform of the Supreme Court in Poland

June 29, 2018

LSG logo

In a press release, the Law Society of England and Wales expresses its concerns over the upcoming reform of the Polish Supreme Court that would curtail the rule of law in the country.


The new legislation is set to come into force on 3 July and may lead to the dismissal of almost 40% of existing Supreme Court’s judges, by reducing the retirement age from 70 to 65 years of age. It would also provide discretionary powers to the President of the Republic to decide over the composition of the Court. The proposed amendments are in stark violation of the principle of irremovability of judges as enshrined in regional and international law, and should therefore be halted.

The European Union is already undertaking dialogue with the Government of Poland in this regard. It is envisaged that the European Court of Justice may also have powers to take interim measures to suspend the implementation of the proposed legislative reform and prevent the suspensions of Polish Supreme Court judges foreseen after 3 July.




Burma: Gunman tells Yangon court he was “forced” to assassinate U Ko Ni

June 29, 2018

The gunman who fatally shot U Ko Ni at Yangon International Airport last January has told Yangon’s Northern District Court that he was “forced” to kill the distinguished lawyer.

U Kyi Lin shot Ko Ni in the head on January 29, 2017, while the senior legal adviser to the National League for Democracy waited for a taxi with his grandson in his arms, in a rare political assassination that shocked the country. He was arrested at the scene after shooting dead taxi driver U Nay Win, who tried to prevent him from escaping.

Kyi Lin testified yesterday that shooting Ko Ni was an act of self-defence as he and his family had been threatened. He did not reveal who was behind the threats.

The motive for Ko Ni’s killing has not been properly explained but is widely seen as being politically motivated.

In his role with the NLD Ko Ni is thought to have been working on reforms that would have stripped the military of some of its considerable powers that are enshrined in the 2008 constitution. He was also a rare outspoken voice for the country’s Muslim population.




Azerbaijan: Disbarment of human rights lawyer Irada Javadova

June 29, 2018

Irada Javadova

On 14 June 2018, human rights lawyer Irada Javadova appealed the Presidium of the Bar Association’s decision to disbar her. She had been disbarred on 11 June 2018.

Irada Javadova is a human rights lawyer who was involved in many resonant cases, including working on numerous violations of citizens’ property rights and violations against political activists and human rights defenders. She is the former head of NGO “Human Rights Education”.





Azerbaijan: example of ‘sophisticated’ harassment of human rights lawyers



June 29, 2018


On 11 April 2018, Istanbul’s 37th High Criminal Court accepted the indictment against 20 lawyers from the People’s Law Office. The indictment claims that the People’s Law Office is a sub-structure of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party (DHKP-C), which has been designated a terrorist organization in Turkey. The hearings have been scheduled for between 10 and 15 September 2018.

Between September and December 2017, 17 human rights lawyers from the People’s Law Office were arrested following orders from the Istanbul Peace Criminal Judge. Selçuk Kozağaçlı, Ebru Timtik, Didem Baydar Ünsal, Ahmet Mandacı, Aycan Çiçek, Ayşegül Çağatay, Aytaç Ünsal, Behiç Aşçı, Engin Gökoğlu, Ezgi Çakır, Günay Dağ, Naciye Demir, Süleyman Gökten, Şükriye Erden, Yağmur Erener Evin, Yaprak Türkmen and Zehra Özdemir were accused of transmitting instructions from the DHKP-C’s executive team to its members, while Oya Aslan, Barkın Timtik and Özgür Yılmaz, were charged with “being managers of an armed terrorist organization”. 17 of the 20 lawyers facing charges remain in pre-trial detention in a number of different prisons, far from their families and their places of residence.

Since September 2017, People’s Law Office has been raided by the police three times, on 12 September 2017, 18 December 2017 and 20 April 2018. A lawyer from the People’s Law Office stated that on 20 April 2018 the police entered into all 11 flats in the same building which did not belong to People’s Law Office and broke some of their neighbors’ doors.

Following almost a year of detention, the court will hear the majority of the detained lawyers through video call. Only Yaprak Türkmen and Selçuk Kozağaçlı, who have been detained in İstanbul Silivri Prison, will be personally brought to the court room for the hearings. One of the detained lawyers, Ahmet Mandacı, criticized in a letter to the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet that they would be questioned by video call rather than appearing before the judge. He further stated that he was not notified about the indictment although other lawyers in detention had been. On 20 September 2017, Ahmet Mandacı had been released under judicial control, but 10 days later he was arrested at the request of the Prosecutor’s Office.

A trainee lawyer who was arrested with the lawyers from the People’s Law Office, also sent a letter to Cumhuriyet and stated that the prison administration had banned him from any visitors for 100 months as he was protesting he and his fellow lawyers’ isolation. He also stated that he wrote several petitions to the Ministry of Justice, administration of Silivri Prison, Prosecutor’s Office and several courts to contest the solitary confinement of Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Yaprak Türkmen but the authorities responded that it was not under their authority. He further stated that while he had written letters to Selçuk Kozağaçlı the letters had not been given to him. Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Yaprak Türkmen have been kept in solitary confinement in İstanbul Silivri Prison since their arrest in September 2017.



Kenya: Court acquits suspects charged alongside Willie Kimani’s client

June 29, 2018

A man holds a sign with the photos of slain human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josphat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri during a protest at Freedom Corner in Nairobi, July 4, 2016. /PATRICK VIDIJA

Three suspects who had been charged alongside the boda boda rider in the case concerning lawyer Willie Kimani have been freed by a Mavoko court.

Josphat Mwenda, the slain International Justice Mission (IJM) client, had been charged together with Samuel Mogaka Ondicho, Josephat Kibagendi Mogaka and Jotham Waswa.

They were accused of having narcotic drugs, gambling and resisting arrest.

The court ruled on Friday that they had no case to answer.

Magistrate Linus Kassan said the prosecution did not prove that the three found with drugs and resisted arrest.

Mwenda, IJM lawyer Kimani and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri were kidnapped on June 23, 2016 when the case was mentioned.

Their mutilated bodies were found eight days later, stashed in gunny bags in a river in Ol-Donyo Sabuk, Machakos County.

AP officers Fredrick Leliman, Leonard Maina, Stephen Chebulet, Silvia Wanjiku and informer Peter Ngugi are on trial for the killings which sparked outrage across the country.

Before he was murdered, Mwenda told the court that he was shot in the hand by Leliman, taken to hospital, held in custody for a week and later dragged to court where more charges were preferred against him.


China: Professor Who Called on Chinese President To Resign Faces Subversion Trial

June 28, 2018

Zi Su, a former professor at a ruling Chinese Communist Party school, in an undated photo.

Authorities in the southwestern province of Sichuan are moving ahead with the subversion trial of a former professor at a ruling Chinese Communist Party school, although a date has yet to be set for the trial, RFA has learned.

Zi Su was taken away from his home in Sichuan’s provincial capital Chengdu on Apr. 28, 2017, after he posted an open letter online calling on Chinese President Xi Jinping to step down as head of the party in favor of Hu Deping, son of late ousted Premier Hu Yaobang, whose death in 1989 sparked the student-led Tiananmen Square protests.

He was initially held on suspicion of “incitement to subvert state power,” but the charge was changed to the more serious “subversion of state power.”

Lawyers attended Zi’s pretrial hearing at the Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court on Tuesday, his defense attorney Ran Tong told RFA.

The defense is calling for an open trial, but the authorities have yet to make a decision on this or on the trial date.

Zi plans to plead “not guilty” to the charges. However, defendants in China’s judicial system who refuse to make “confessions” that are often broadcast by state-run media typically receive much harsher sentences.

Zi also wrote that Xi had launched an “unbridled attack” on rights lawyers and democracy activists, as well as on online freedom of expression.

He said the president’s much-vaunted anti-corruption campaign had been selective, and “waged under a one-party dictatorship.”

Most of all, Zi hit out at the “seven taboos,” a list of things never to be discussed in public life, which were the subject of party Document No. 9, which veteran political journalist Gao Yu was jailed for “leaking overseas.”

They are: universal values of human rights and democratic, constitutional government, press freedom, civil society, citizens’ rights, the historical mistakes of the Chinese Communist Party, the financial and political elite, and judicial independence.