Monthly Archives: January 2021

Sudan: Killing of Human Rights Defender Faisal Yousef Mohamed


Faisal Yousef Mohamed

On 17 January 2021, human rights defender Faisal Yousef Mohamed was killed in his house in El Genena city, West Darfur by unknown individuals from armed militant groups. Two of the human rights defenders brothers were murdered in the same incident.

Faisal Yousef Mohamed was human rights defender and paralegal training to become a lawyer. The human rights defender was a member of Hay El Ameerya resistance committee, a committee that frequently organises peaceful demonstrations to promote civil and economic rights in Sudan. Faisal Yousef Mohamed was a member of El Geneana Para Legal Network, a network of paralegals who offered legal assistance to internally displaced people (IDPs) in refugee camps in West Darfur. One of his main areas of human rights work was helping IDPs who had been victims of human rights violation seek justice by connecting them with lawyers.

On 16 and 17 January 2021, Faisal Yousef Mohamed witnessed the outbreak of violent clashes between armed men from the Masalit and Arab communities which occurred near the Krinding Camp for Internally Displaced People in West Darfur. The human rights defender was working with IDPs at the time of the incident. These clashes reportedly resulted in the killing of approximately 160 people and at least 215 people were injured.


Russia: Detained and Prosecuted for Defending Protesters in Russia


Mikhail Benyash and Mansur Gilmanov

A Story of Two Lawyers Highlights a Bigger Problem with Russia’s Justice System

Attacks, detention and prosecution of lawyers – including while performing their professional duties – is not unusual in Russia, but what happened ahead of the January 23 protests  takes this harassment to a new level.

I spoke with two lawyers –one in Moscow and one in Krasnodar– who had previously represented other lawyers, themselves detained for representing peaceful protesters. Both are also actively involved in human rights work.  By detaining them, the authorities sought not only to interfere with their work, but to send a clear warning to their colleagues and fellow human rights defenders.

In the evening of January 21, Moscow-based human rights lawyer Mansur Gilmanov arrived at a police station to defend his client, Vladlen Los. Los is a lawyer with the Foundation Against Corruption, affiliated with Alexey Navalny, whom police had detained earlier that day.

Gilmanov presented all required documents at the precinct’s checkpoint. An officer told him to wait for somebody to take him to his client. After 40 minutes watching other people allowed in and repeated inquiries, Gilmanov told police he wanted to file a complaint that they were interfering with his client’s right to legal representation. An officer eventually buzzed him into the station to submit the complaint. As he reached the duty officer’s window, the officer ran up to him, knocked him to the floor, kicked him several times, and shouted obscenities.

The police then held Gilmanov for 4- 5 hours without explanation, while two other lawyers unsuccessfully tried to see him. Finally, around 2 am, police finally granted the lawyers access to Gilmanov.  Shortly after Gilmanov met with his lawyers, the police transferred him to another station, where he spent the night in a room without a bed.

In the morning Gilmanov was taken before a judge on charges of “non-compliance with police orders.” The judge refused defence requests to see evidence, including additional CCTV footage from the station that would have showed what happened . The court sentenced Gilmanov to 5 days detention.

On January 21, Mikhail Benyash, a lawyer in Krasnodar, southern Russia, posted a passionate call for colleagues to provide legal aid to protesters during upcoming protests. On the basis of this post a court held that he had organized an “unauthorized protest.”

The next day police searched his apartment. 


Spain: Spanish judge prosecutes Puigdemont’s lawyer Gonzalo Boye


A Spanish criminal court has taken the decision to prosecute Gonzalo Boye, the lawyer of former Catalan presidents Carles Puigdemont and Quim Torra, on suspicion that he is connected with a drug trafficking case. 

National Audience judge María Tardón, a former Madrid city councillor for Spain’s Popular Party, considers that the lawyer committed an alleged crime of money laundering, involving the funds that came from a criminal organization dedicated to drug trafficking and led by José Ramón Prado Burgaño, also known as Sito Miñanco, for whom Boye acted as a lawyer. He is also being prosecuted for forgery.

Boye has repeatedly denied having any connection with the case, stating that one of the lawyers who has been prosecuted, Manuel Puente Saavedra, “falsely” incriminated him in a statement that allowed Puente Saavedra to be released in 2019.

Spanish “lawfare” and “the rattling of gowns”

Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, came out in defence of Boye, and attributed the decision of the National Audienc court to “lawfare”, the practice of using legal systems to achieve a partisan goal. “Everyone knows perfectly well what all this is about. A shame, as a result of a certain sector of the judiciary sinking into in the mud of lawfare. A classic case. All my support, friend Gonzalo Boye,” said Puigdemont. “Thank you, President, we continue” the lawyer replied.


China: Human Rights Lawyer Faces Loss of License in China’s Shandong


Human Rights Lawyer Faces Loss of License in China's Shandong

Authorities in the eastern province of Shandong are preparing to revoke the license of a rights lawyer who was hired to defend fellow rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, as the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues a nationwide clampdown on the legal profession.

Xi Xiangdong, who had been hired to represent Wang after his detention as part of a crackdown on the profession starting in July 2015, was notified by the Shandong provincial department of justice on Thursday that it will likely revoke his license to practise.

Wang told RFA that the authorities were likely retaliating after Xi spoke out against the mistreatment of his client Chi Shengang, an entrepreneur accused of involvement in organized crime.

“Lawyers like Xi Xiangdong tend to stick to the law when it comes to how lawyers should act, so they are likely anger some people, and suffer retaliation for that,” Wang said.

He said the authorities are likely taking issue with Xi’s attempts to do his job properly.

“If lawyers [like Xi] try to argue their case in court using reason, they see it as a failure to obey the judge,” Wang said. “This gives them the excuse they need to retaliate against the lawyer.”


The Philippines: IBP: With lawyers killed and murders unresolved, people will lose trust in justice system


IBP: With lawyers killed and murders unresolved, people will lose trust in justice system

Killings of members of the legal profession can erode the public’s trust in the justice system and embolden criminals to take the law into their own hands, Integrated Bar of the Philippines President Domingo Egon Cayosa said Thursday.

During the Senate hearing into spate of unlawful killings including Filipino lawyers, Cayosa said ordinary people may lose their belief and trust in the justice system if lawyers, prosecutors and judges are slain and their killers remain scot-free.

The IBP president also said that the killings may also weaken the resolve of lawyers, law enforcers, judges and prosecutors that “they do not only stake their career, profession, but also their lives and if something happens to them, justice will be slow,” he said partly in Filipino.

Since the start of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, 56 lawyers have been killed. A large majority of these cases remain unsolved even years later.

Cayosa stressed: “Kung hihina ang loob ng law enforcers, mga nagpapatakbo ng hustisya, luluwang at lalalim ang magiging role ng mga kriminal because they will take the law into their own hands.”

(If the resolve of law enforcers, those who turn the wheels of justice weakens, the role of criminals will get bigger and deeper because they will take the law into their own hands.)

Low prosecution rate in lawyer killings

The IBP president said they now have a lawyer-justice-security program, which includes coordination with law enforcement and security agencies of the government.

Under this scheme, the IBP has better coordination with government agencies at the national level which helped in identifying, arresting and charging of supposed perpetrators of the crimes against lawyers.

In November, lawyers Eric Jay Magcamit in Palawan and Joey Luis Wee in Cebu were killed in broad daylight. The murders happened in a span of a week.

In December, lawyer Maria Concepcion Landero-Ole, also from Cebu, was gunned down in Looc, Danao City. In the same month, the National Bureau of Investigation confirmed that the mutilated body found in Capas, Tarlac was former Court of Appeals Justice Normandie Pizarro.

Last week, Court Administrator Midas Marquez said they are drafting a report for Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on their recent meetings with different stakeholders in the justice sector on the continued attacks on, and killings of, their colleagues.

The Department of Justice is also creating an inventory of cases that are under investigation, are undergoing preliminary investigation and those that have reached the court for trial “for the purpose of monitoring their progress very closely.”

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said drawing up the inventory is still ongoing and may be done in another two weeks.–LTO-after-top-brass-snubs-hearing-on-killings-.html

India: Belgaum criminal in Bihar, lawyer shot dead in Vaishali, body found in roadside car


Belgaum criminal in Bihar, lawyer shot dead in Vaishali, body found in roadside car

After inspecting the scene, the SP called the FSL team for investigation. On the other hand, other lawyers started protesting in the city in protest of the lawyer’s death. The lawyers’ organization chanted slogans against the police against the city’s rising crime and the deaths of associates and handed over a memorandum to the district magistrate.

Bihar As the capital city and law and order deteriorated and a lawyer was shot dead in Vaishali district adjacent to Patna today in the unresolved episode of the Rupesh murder case in Patna. Lawyer Shashi Ranjan Jha went to distribute New Year’s diaries and calendars but was missing late into the night. The incident took place near Bharatpur Singhera on Mahua-Patepur road of Mahua police station.

This morning, people found the body in a car parked on the Mahua-Patpur road. The glass of the car is broken. The perpetrators shot and killed Shashi Ranjan Jha at close range. A crowd of people gathered to see the body of a lawyer with a seat belt in the car seat. Upon receiving the news of the incident, the police team reached the SPO and inspected the spot.

Meanwhile, Lakhwinder Paswan, a local BJP MLA from Patpur, also took the opportunity to hear about the incident. MLAs have been seen attacking policemen. The legislators could tell police members that the police did not quit their jobs, just to get drunk.

Why is Nitish Kumar angry?

After inspecting the scene, the SP called the FSL team for investigation. On the other hand, other lawyers started protesting in the city in protest of the lawyer’s death. The lawyers’ organization chanted slogans against the police against the city’s rising crime and the deaths of associates and handed over a memorandum to the district magistrate.

[…] (HINDI)

Russia/Belarus: Despite Being Forced Out Of Russia, Navalny Associate Vows To Fight On


Uladzlen Los was expelled from Russia on January 24

Belarusian citizen Uladzlen Los, a lawyer with jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), says he will continue his work with the Kremlin critic’s team even though Russian police forced him out of the country following weekend rallies by tens of thousands calling for Navalny’s release.

“I will continue to work distantly as much as I can. I will help those detained, filing appeals on their behalf. I will help them file complaints with the European Court of Human Rights. Unlike Belarusian citizens, Russians have a right to appeal with that court. I have enough work,” Los told RFE/RL in an interview on January 26.

Los, along with several other Navalny associates, was detained last week before the demonstrations and sentenced to three days in jail on a charge of disobeying a police order. Other associates were also sentenced to several days in jail or fined as the authorities looked to curb the scale of the expected demonstrations.

Undisclosed Location

Then, on January 24, Los said he was handcuffed and forced into a car with a sack over his head in Moscow before being taken on a 10-hour drive to the border by plainclothes police and handed over to Belarusian authorities.

Los managed to leave Belarus quickly after arriving and is currently in an undisclosed location.


The Philippines: IBP decries communist tag on three of its top lawyers


THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) deplored on Monday the inclusion of three known lawyers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s (AFP) list of students from the University of the Philippines (UP) who were either killed or captured after joining the New People’s Army (NPA).

IBP President Doming Cayosa assured the AFP that lawyers Roan Libarios, Alexander Padilla and Rafael Angelo Aquino are not members of the NPA, contrary to the list posted by the AFP in its Facebook post.

In fact, Cayosa said the three lawyers were never captured and they are very much alive.

“We urge government authorities to right the wrong and set firm policies against red-tagging…false and reckless publications, shortcuts, and questionable means destroy the very rights, public interests, or principles that we all seek to protect,” Cayosa said.


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Azerbaijan: Disbarred, suspended, or criminally prosecuted: Azerbaijani human rights lawyers (updated)

January 2021

This list has been compiled by the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) on the basis of publicly available reports from international human rights organisations and information from partner lawyers in Azerbaijan.

In the years following the 2014 crackdown on civil society in Azerbaijan and the criminal prosecution of NGO and human rights defenders, human rights lawyers who took up these and other ‘politically sensitive’ cases have been subjected to severe retaliation by the authorities, which has sometimes resulted in the suspension of their licences and even disbarment.

Disciplinary proceedings have been brought against human rights lawyers in response to their legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression: for publicising human rights violations perpetrated against their clients in detention, or for disclosing instances of the abusive administration of justice in their clients’ cases. As a result, over a dozen Azerbaijani lawyers have been deprived of the opportunity to practise their profession, and over two dozen have been targeted by the Azerbaijani authorities since 2005.

In January 2020, in its first case relating to the disbarment of a lawyer in Azerbaijan, the European Court of Human Rights (European Court) found a violation of the right to a private life (Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights) in the case of Elchin Namazov, who was disbarred in the absence of adequate procedural safeguards in disciplinary proceedings brought against him. The Court found that the domestic courts had failed to assess the proportionality of the sanction.[1]

Khalid Bagirov is another prominent human rights lawyer who was first suspended in 2011 after he made comments about the suspicious death of his client in police custody. He was later permanently disbarred in 2015 for criticising Azerbaijan’s judicial system during a trial which concerned a domestic court’s failure to implement the European Court’s judgment in the case of Ilgar Mammadov, an opposition politician whose arrest was found to be politically motivated.

In June 2020, the European Court ruled that Azerbaijan’s suspension and disbarment of Bagirov was in breach of his freedom of expression (Article 10 of ECHR) and right to a private life. The Court ordered the Azerbaijani Government to ensure the “maximum possible reparation” for Khalid Bagirov, “and [that] they should put the applicant, as far as possible, in the position in which he had been before his disbarment.”[2]



Day of the Endangered Lawyer: Exclusive Interview: Diego García-Sayán, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers



On the International Day of Endangered Lawyers – 2021, we have the privilege of having an exclusive interview with Mr Diego García-Sayán, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. We talked about a wide range of topics: from growing authoritarianism to attacks on judges and lawyers; Poland, Turkey, Hungary, Italy and others.

Q1: Mr Garcia-Sayán, first we must thank you for your incredible efforts to protect the lawyers and judges across the world in these difficult times. Could you start by talking more about your mission as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers?

In 1994, the Commission on Human Rights, in resolution 1994/41, noting both the increasing frequency of attacks on the independence of judges, lawyers and court officials and the link which exists between the weakening of safeguards for the judiciary and lawyers and the gravity and frequency of violations of human rights, decided to appoint, for a period of three years, a Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. Like other Special Procedures, this mandate was assumed by the Human Rights Council (General Assembly resolution 60/251), and extended for one year, subject to the review to be undertaken by the Council (Human Rights Council decision 2006/102).

The responsibility entrusted to the Special Rapporteur s diverse and complex. His/her  mandate is broad and covers issues such as access to justice, the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and the proper functioning of the justice system, the protection of the person and function of judges, lawyers, prosecutors and judicial officers, and the right to a fair trial and due process. All of these aspects are fundamental to the exercise of human rights.



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