Daily Archives: 18/03/2021

Burma: Statement on the situation of lawyers in Myanmar

17/03/21

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Lawyers for Lawyers is deeply concerned about the current situation in Myanmar, including the situation of lawyers.

According to our information, following the military coup in Myanmar on 1 February 2021, more than 2,100[1] people have been arbitrarily arrested, charged or sentenced in relation to the coup, and grave, systematic human rights violations are occurring on a broad scale. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar reported that many lawyers are amongst those arbitrarily detained.[2] It has been further been reported that some lawyers have gone into hiding to avoid being arbitrarily arrested.

We highlight the following cases, without prejudice to any other cases about which we have not yet received information:

  • On 1 February 2021, U Nyan Win, lawyer for Aung San Suu Kyi, was detained.
  • On the night of 10 February 2021, U Kyaw Hoe, member of the Legal Aid Committee for Yangon Region was detained.
  • On 11 February 21, U Myi Aung, a lawyer detained in Myawaddy, Karen State, was detained.
  • On or about 6 March, it was reported that an warrant issued for Mandalay lawyer U Tun Kyi, after he publicly stated that the military coup is illegal.[3]
  • It has been reported that lawyer Khin Maung Zaw, who has been tasked with defending Aung San Suu Kyi, needs to stay in different lodgings each night to avoid arbitrary arrest. We also understand that he has not been given proper access to his client, and that the junta is permitting only two junior lawyers to represent Aung San Suu Kyi.[4]
  • It has been reported that lawyer Robert Sann Aung went into hiding on 7 March 2021, after he spoke out against the unlawful coup. Junta leaders have reportedly charged Robert Sann Aung with treason.[5] On 9 March it was reported that during a raid on his home his daughter and brother-in-law were taken into custody, and their whereabouts are unknown.[6]
  • On 11 March, U Lwin Aung, a lawyer, was arrested for protesting against the military coup.[7]

We are alarmed about reports of ongoing intimidation and harassment of lawyers,[8] as well as reports that lawyers are being prevented from providing legal assistance to detained protesters and journalists.[9] Lawyers play a vital role in the protection of the rule of law and human rights. It is the responsibility of lawyers to protect and establish the rights of citizens from whatever quarter they may be threatened. Their work is indispensable for ensuring the right of effective access to justice for all.

The intimidation and harassment of lawyers, and preventing them from providing legal assistance, deprive the citizens of Myanmar of the right of access to justice, violate international fair trial guarantees – including the right to have legal representation of one’s own choosing – and breach the principle of independence of the legal profession.

[…]

https://time.com/5944853/myanmar-military-crackdown-deaths/

Nigeria: I Stand With Barrister Sa’ida Saad Bugaje, By Hannatu Musawa

17/03/21

Recently I learnt that a dear friend and sister of mine, human rights activist, Barrister Sai’da Saad Bugaje is currently being ruthlessly and brutally harassed and persecuted by the authorities over her critique of the gormless governor of the State she hails from. It has gotten so intense that friends and family are now scared for her safety and life. Some months back, she had initially been subjected to a special kind of extrajudicial harassment by, what is believed to be the governor’s henchmen, over utterances she made on the alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 funds in her State. At that time, she was almost whisked away by personnel claiming to be working for the authorities in her home, had it not been for the timely intervention of the police and government of a different State.

As part of that ordeal, Barrister Sa’ida Saad, the wife of renowned politician of esteemed pedigree and national treasure, Dr Usman Bugaje, was bombarded in her home when members of the police arrived in two vehicles and demanded for her to follow them to her State of origin even though they made that demand without an arrest warrant. Being that Barrister Saida is very much aware of her rights, she asked them to produce an arrest warrant and refused to follow the authorities unless she was furnished with one. Apart from the fact that the, so called, authorities sent to take her were not equipped with a valid arrest warrant, Barrister Saida was also cognizant of the insecurity in Nigeria and concerned. Given the spate of kidnappings and abductions across the country, it is no wonder that she was adamant on not blindly following strangers who barged into her house far into what could have been the great abyss. Luckily, while she stood her ground in refusing to follow them, they were eventually persuaded to leave.

With the ink hardly dry on that particular incident in which Barrister Saida escaped arrest, another confrontation was to ensue when the same group of personnel returned and forced their way into her home. In that particular incident, it looked as if they meant business because, according to eye witnesses, they intimidated members of her household, charged into her rooms, took pictures of the house, property and car number plates, amongst other forms of aggression. Perhaps Barrister Saida’s saving grace on that faithful day was her absence. Thankfully to the Almighty, my friend was not at home. One cannot imagine what would have happened to her if they hoard of people sent had met her and her children at her home. Having had no way of locating her, they subsequently made their exit.

Presently, the persecution has continued with that particular State governor relentlessly setting members of the authorities in his State against her for allegedly speaking her mind.

On the morning of March 15, 2021, unidentified men visited the apartment she stays in Abuja with her picture demanding that the occupants of the residence produce her. They arrived at 6.30 a.m. and got all occupants of the building out in the car park, where they searched through everyone harassing and intimidating them to produce Barrister Sa’ida. Some of the occupants where even just half dressed, as it is expected that time of the morning.

[…]

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/opinion/449501-i-stand-with-barrister-saida-saad-bugaje-by-hannatu-musawa.html

The Philippines: Lawyers to Supreme Court: Protect us from threats, killings

18/03/21

ABOUT 900 independent lawyers and members of various law faculties are pressing the Supreme Court to take proactive measures that would protect judges, lawyers and members of the legal profession from threats and killings.

In a letter addressed to Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta and the other members of the 15-man High Tribunal, the lawyers admitted that they are “deeply troubled and concerned” by the recent reports that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has asked trial courts to compile a list of lawyers who represent personalities being linked with communist terrorist groups (CTG).

The University of the Philippines College of Law, through Dean Edgardo Carlo Vistan II, led the 157 faculty members and the other lawyers in seeking action from the SC.

A separate letter signed by 736 independent lawyers was sent to CJ Peralta also seeking protection of lawyers against impunity.

In their letter-request, the UP College of Law expressed its outrage over alleged police action, which violate the independence of the judiciary through its attempt to secure the names of lawyers representing CTGs.

They also expressed concern over lawyers who have been killed after having been “profiled” and “red-tagged.”

Vistan specifically cited the letter sent by Lt. Fernando Calabria to the Calbayog City Clerk of Court seeking the names of lawyers serving as counsels for alleged members of CTGs.

“We do believe that this Court is vested with sufficient power under the Constitution to protect its officers, including lawyers, prosecutors, and judges, as well as its staff and personnel from such threats, intimidation, and even killings,” the letter-request read.

“For this reason, we now seek the Court’s intervention to protect its lawyers, its officers and to ensure that the administration of justice is not held hostage by threats, pressure, and intimidation by yet unidentified people acting with impunity,” it added.

Vistan said they are asking the Court en banc to formally discuss the issue by docketing it as an administrative matter.

They also suggested the creation of a  “Special Committee to Protect Lawyers” to be headed by an incumbent member of the SC with representatives from lower courts, Integrated Bar of the Philippines and other lawyers’ network and the legal academe.

[…]

https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/03/17/21/sc-urged-to-act-on-red-baiting-of-lawyers-judge-gets-red-tagged

https://www.philstar.com/nation/2021/03/18/2085077/pnp-ibp-vow-resolve-lawyers-killings

https://www.rappler.com/nation/pnp-integrated-bar-philippines-agree-address-lawyer-killings

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2021/03/17/2084955/pnp-vows-investigations-lawyer-killings-stronger-partnership-ibp

https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/03/18/21/lawmakers-seek-probe-into-police-profiling-of-activists-lawyers

https://www.rappler.com/nation/national-news/lawyer-killings-cast-shadow-peralta-retirement-supreme-court-chief-justice

https://www.rappler.com/nation/lawmakers-seek-probe-vs-profiling-lawyers-red-tagging-victims

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2021/03/17/2084950/mandaluyong-judge-red-tagged-after-freeing-two-activists

https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/03/17/21/lawyers-ask-sc-to-require-more-safeguards-in-service-of-warrants

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