Daily Archives: 13/12/2018

Pakistan/UK: ‘Theresa May has failed Pakistan’s Christians’: An interview with Asia Bibi’s lawyer

December 15, 2018

Saif ul-Malook on fearing for his life and defending Asia Bibi from blasphemy

Asia Bibi’s daughters with a picture of their mother

Saif ul-Malook greets me in the hallway of his daughter’s home. Pakistani hospitality dictates that a guest should not go hungry, so there are plates of samosas, kebabs and biscuits. I am also of Pakistani heritage, so know that etiquette dictates that I must politely refuse a few times — or until I can no longer ignore my rumbling stomach.

Malook was flown out of Pakistan, because his life was in danger. Since leaving the country, he has kept a low profile in his daughter’s home, a modest detached house in a cul-de-sac off a busy road in a UK city. He asks for the location not to be revealed.

The reason his life is in danger is because Malook was a key figure in one of the most renowned cases in recent times. He was the lawyer who defended Asia Bibi, a poor and illiterate 47-year-old Catholic woman who faced being hanged for allegedly insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

In 2009, Bibi was at her work on a farm when she stopped to drink some water from a well, using someone else’s cup. She was told that she could not share utensils with a Muslim because she was ‘unclean’. This led to an argument about religion, and Bibi and her family were later beaten by a mob who extracted a ‘confession’.

She was then arrested and imprisoned for more than a year before being formally charged. She was the first woman in Pakistan to be sentenced to death for blasphemy, and would have been the first to be executed for blasphemy under the current law. Her case sparked international outrage. Her family visited the UK to appeal for help, and even met the Pope.

When Malook became involved in 2014, the Supreme Court granted leave to file for an appeal, and the death penalty was temporarily suspended in 2015. Then in October this year, Malook received a call from the Supreme Court telling him that the three-judge bench would be hearing the final legal appeal. He had just two days to prepare, but he had been ready for this case for four years.








https://www.lesalonbeige.fr/lavocat-dasia-bibi-refugie-aux-pays-bas/ (FRANCAIS)

https://www.franceculture.fr/emissions/le-reportage-de-la-redaction/au-pakistan-retour-dans-le-village-dasia-bibi (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affaire_Asia_Bibi (FRANCAIS)


Burma: In a Muslim lawyer’s murder, Myanmar’s shattered dream

December 13, 2018

Ko Ni, a prominent member of Myanmar's Muslim minority and legal adviser for Myanmar's ruling National League for Democracy, is seen during an interview in Yangon January 13, 2016. Picture taken January 13, 2016. Ko Ni was shot dead outside the Yangon International Airport on January 29, 2017. Reuters






Hong Kong/China: ‘I will never give up’: Law professor Benny Tai takes the stand in trial of 2014 pro-democracy activists

December 12, 2018

umbrella movement occupy trial

(Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, Benny Tai and Chan Kin-man. Photo: inmediahk.net.)

Occupy Central co-founder and law professor Benny Tai made an emotional paean to civil disobedience and democracy on Wednesday as the trial of nine pro-democracy activists approaches an end.

Tai told the court that the intent of the 2014 occupy movement was to arouse public concern for Hong Kong’s democratic deficit, not to cause unreasonable obstruction.

“If we were to be guilty, we will be guilty for daring to share hope at this difficult time in Hong Kong,” he said.

“I am not afraid or ashamed of going to prison. If this is the cup I must take, I will drink with no regret.”

Tai was among the nine politicians and activists who face charges over the 79-day pro-democracy occupation movement in 2014. The defendants face various public nuisance and incitement charges, which carry a maximum jail sentence of seven years. All have pleaded not guilty.

On Wednesday, Tai said he used many years of his life to defend the city’s rule of law, adding: “I will also never give up on striving for Hong Kong’s democracy.”






https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benny_Tai (FRANCAIS)

Iran: Escalating Crackdown on Lawyers

December 13, 2018

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and Farhad Meysami, a human rights defender, protest the suspension of  Sotoudeh's law license in front of the Tehran bar association in Tehran, February 2015.

Iranian authorities have escalated their crackdown on lawyers, Human Rights Watch said today. Over the past month, revolutionary courts have sentenced at least three lawyers to long prison terms for their human rights activism and security forces have arrested another one.

On December 10, 2018, the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) reported that a revolutionary court had sentenced Qasem Sholehsadi and Arash Keykhosravi, human rights lawyers arrested during a gathering in front of parliament on August 18, to six years in prison. Mohammad Najafi, a human rights lawyer who is serving a three-year sentence for exposing torture in prison, has been sentenced to an additional 13 years for two other sets of charges, his lawyer, Payam Derafshan told Human Rights Watch. Authorities have detained Amir Salar Davoudi, another human rights lawyer, since November 20.

“Now Iran is not only arresting dissidents, human rights defenders, and labor leaders, but their lawyers as well, criminalizing their fundamental freedoms,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Lawyers should be the cornerstone of protecting the rights of the accused, but in Iran, they are just another enemy of repressive authorities.”








This UN Human Rights Day, speak out for this courageous woman









https://www.advokaten.se/Tidningsnummer/2018/nr-9-2018-argang-84/fangslad-iransk-advokat-prisas-for-sitt-arbete/ (SWEDISH)

Image may contain: Reza Khandan, text

The Philippines: Cainta ‘shootout’ fatality is lawyer’s security aide

December 12, 2018

A man who was killed along with a female companion in an alleged shootout with police officers in Cainta, Rizal on Monday turned out to be a security aide of lawyer and senatorial candidate Glenn Chong.

Chong yesterday lambasted the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) and demanded justice for the death of Richard Santillan.

Santillan and his companion were killed in an alleged encounter in Barangay San Andres at around 1 a.m.

The fatalities, along with two other men, were in a Toyota Fortuner (NOF 845) when the HPG officers spotted them along the Eastbank Road in Cambridge Village.

Reports said the vehicle did not have validation sticker and verification showed it was last registered in 2015.

The officers flagged down the Fortuner, but Santillan reportedly stepped on the gas, triggering a chase.

A brief exchange of gunfire ensued and resulted in the death of Santillan and the woman, whose name was not immediately available.












https://www.philstar.com/pang-masa/police-metro/2018/12/17/1877648/chong-aide-ko-dinukot-tinorture-pinatay (TAGALOG)

The Philippines: Public Statement: Philippines (December 2018)

The Law Society of Ontario expresses grave concern about the murder of lawyer Benjamin Ramos and 33 other lawyers in the Philippines

The Law Society of Ontario expresses grave concern about the murder of lawyer Benjamin Ramos and 33 other lawyers in the Philippines.

According to reports, 34 lawyers have been killed in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte began his presidency in June 2016. Reports indicate that Benjamin Ramos was the 34th lawyer killed during his presidency, and reports further identify the following six lawyers who were recently shot and killed as a result of exercising their professional duties: Mia Manuelita Mascarinas-Green on February 16, 2017 (for whom the Law Society has previously intervened in a letter attached, for your ease of reference); Jonah John Ungab on February 19, 2018; Joey Galit on June 21, 2018; Rafael Atotubo on August 23, 2018; Connie Del Rio Villamor on September 24 2018; and Edeljulio Romero on September 28, 2018.

During a speech at the 19th Founding Anniversary of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption in Manilla on August 16, 2017, President Duterte instructed the national police to not be intimidated by human rights lawyers who were conducting investigations in the thousands of deaths of individuals that you referred to as “drug addicts and dealers”. According to reports, the President also instructed police to shoot lawyers if they are obstructing justice. Lawyers are being harassed, threatened and killed at alarming rates, and we implore President Duterte to publicly denounce these activities and to take immediate steps to ensure that lawyers can safely perform their legitimate professional duties.

As mentioned earlier, Benjamin Ramos was the lawyer most recently killed in the Philippines. Benjamin Ramos was a human rights lawyer and founding member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NULP). The NULP specializes in pro-bono work for low-income clients whose families have been targeted by the state.

On November 6, 2018, Benjamin Ramos was reportedly shot and killed in Negros Occidental by two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle. The shooting took place as he left his office in the evening.  Benjamin Ramos was shot three times and declared dead on arrival at the hospital.




https://lso.ca/about-lso/initiatives/human-rights-monitoring-group/public-statement-philippines-december-2018?lang=fr-ca (FRANCAIS)


Russia: Defence lawyer Mikhail Benyash indicted

December 12, 2018

Mikhail Benyash

On 12 December 2018, the senior investigator of the Investigation Department of the Western District of Krasnodar city indicted defence lawyer Mikhail Benyash after reviewing his case file. Mikhail Benyash is charged with the “use of violence, not dangerous to health, in relation to the representative of the authority”. According to article 318 part 1 of the Russian Criminal Code, the human rights defender is facing up to five years in prison.

On 6 December 2018, the senior investigator decided to terminate the criminal case against Mikhail Benyash based on charges of the “obstruction of justice”. However, he decided to continue the criminal investigation into the case of violence against the representatives of the authority, in relation to the crime that the human rights defender allegedly committed on 9 September 2018 during his arrest for a post about a planned protest against the pension reform.

Mikhail Benyash is a defence lawyer who has been working on civil and criminal cases for the last ten years in Sochi and Krasnodar Region, Russia. In the context of authorities’ reluctance to sanction peaceful protests, the human rights defender has been providing legal assistance to participants of rallies which were not officially approved. He also attended a number of protests in order to monitor and prevent police brutality.





https://lso.ca/about-lso/initiatives/human-rights-monitoring-group/public-statement-russia-december-2018?lang=fr-ca (FRANCAIS)

https://www.ukrinform.es/rubric-society/2595293-abogado-de-presos-politicos-de-crimea-detenido-por-extremismo-periodista.html (ESPANOL)