Monthly Archives: April 2021

Russia: Prominent Russian Lawyer Detained for ‘Sharing Investigative Details’


One of Russia’s leading defense lawyers has been detained on criminal charges of disclosing details of an investigation hours before he was due in court to represent a prominent former journalist accused of treason, his colleagues said early Friday.

“Ivan Pavlov, the leader of Team 29, was arrested on April 30 in Moscow after a search in his hotel room,” the organization said on its website. 

Team 29 describes itself as an association of lawyers and journalists that stands for Russian citizens’ rights to access and distribute information. 

“Mr. Pavlov was getting ready for a 9 a.m. court hearing for his defendant, journalist Ivan Safronov, accused of treason,” Team 29 said in the statement. The Moscow court extended Safronov’s pre-trial detention later Friday.

Pavlov told the independent Dozhd broadcaster that investigators suspect him of sharing information from Safronov’s treason case. Safronov faces up to 20 years in prison on suspicion of passing state secrets to the Czech Republic as a defense reporter in 2017.

Team 29 added that authorities also broke down the St. Petersburg apartment door of its digital security officer, Igor Dorfman, who stopped responding to calls at around that time. It later reported that police raided its office in St. Petersburg and the home of Pavlov’s wife.

Pavlov faces up to three months of arrest or two years of community service if found guilty of “disclosing the data of a preliminary investigation.”

Pavlov also represents jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s team in a highly anticipated “extremism” case that could see all its activities in Russia banned.

Pavlov’s colleague Olga Tseytlina told BBC Russia that she believes he was detained — the first such charges against lawyers since 2013 — in connection with the Navalny case to “push him aside.”

“This is an act of intimidation for the entire legal community, a signal that we’re all under the sword of Damocles: If you open your mouth, there will be fallout,” she said.

Pavlov’s other colleague, Yevgeny Smirnov, said that a lead investigator in Safronov’s treason case had threatened to “do everything to jail you because you are bones in our throats.” (русский)

Zimbabwe: BREAKING: Police arrest human rights lawyer while at court


BREAKING: Police arrest human rights lawyer while at court

The Zimbabwe Republic Police has arrested human rights lawyer Webster Jiti of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

Jiti was arrested this morning at the Harare Magistrates Courts as he was consulting with his clients Takudzwa Ngadziore and Tapiwanashe Chiriga, who are appearing in court today.

ZRP officers claim that Jiti undermined police authority.

Meanwhile, Jiti is being represented by Tinashe Chinox, also of ZLHR.

Ethiopia: Rights lawyer Asres Mare Damte arrested



Indonesia Arrests Firebrand Cleric’s Lawyer Over Attacks


Police arrested Islam Defenders Front leader Rizieq Shihab’s lawyer, Munarman, in a raid this week.

Police arrested Islam Defenders Front leader Rizieq Shihab’s lawyer, Munarman, in a raid on his house in Jakarta’s satellite city of Tangerang after interrogating scores of suspected militants detained after an attack outside a Roman Catholic cathedral during Palm Sunday Mass last month.

Munarman, who goes by one name, was the general secretary of the now-defunct Islam Defenders Front, widely known by the Indonesian acronym FPI, which was once on the political fringes and has a long record of vandalizing nightspots, hurling stones at Western embassies and attacking rival religious groups. It wants Islamic Shariah law to apply to Indonesia’s 230 million Muslims.

“He is accused of an evil conspiracy to carry out acts of terror,” National Police spokesperson Argo Yuwono said in a statement. He said Munarman incited people to commit radical acts and hid information about terrorism from authorities.

Police are still investigating his house in Tangerang and the disbanded FPI’s headquarters in central Jakarta, where they seized chemicals for use in explosives, Ahmad Ramadhan, another police spokesman, said in a news conference late Tuesday.

The government banned FPI in December, saying it had no legal grounds to operate as a civil organization and that its activities often violated the law and caused public disorder. Police arrested Shihab, the group’s founder and chairman, on charges of inciting people to breach pandemic restrictions by holding events with large crowds.

Munarman, a former human rights lawyer before joining FPI, has been one of Shihab’s lawyers since the firebrand cleric’s trial in East Jakarta District Court began last month.


Hong Kong leader issues warning to territory’s top legal body


Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference at the Central Government Offices complex in Hong Kong [File: Jerome Favre/EPA]

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says gov’t could intervene in Bar Association after its chief criticised jailing of pro-democracy activists.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has warned that the government could intervene in the Bar Association, the territory’s top legal body after its chief criticised the jailing of pro-democracy politicians earlier this month.

On Sunday, China’s representative office in Hong Kong labelled Bar Chairman Paul Harris an “anti-China politician” after he spoke out against the jailing of the activists and politicians.

Speaking at her weekly press briefing on Tuesday, Lam said that while Hong Kong respects freedom of expression, there are limits.

“For the time being, I do not see the case for any government intervention into the affairs of the Hong Kong Bar Association,” Lam said.

“But, of course, if there are instances or complaints about the bar not acting in accordance with the Hong Kong law, then, of course, the government would be called into action.”

Harris had questioned the custodial sentences given to media tycoon Jimmy Lai and others for taking part in an unauthorised assembly during anti-government demonstrations in 2019 and also defended the right to peaceful protests.

Harris had argued that peaceful demonstrations remain legal in the city and that such demonstrations serve as a channel for people to express their grievances. Earlier this year, he had also called for amendments in national security law, which China imposed on Hong Kong in June last year.


Turkey/Armenia: ‘Genocide’ investigation against Diyarbakır Bar Association


An investigation has been launched against the Diyarbakır Bar Association over its statement “We share the grief for the Great Calamity”.

Released on April 24 Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, the statement is now facing an investigation by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Accordingly, the Bar Association Chair and the members of its executive board are charged with “degrading the Turkish Nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey, the institutions and bodies of the state.”

Diyarbakır Bar Association Chair Nahit Eren has made a brief statement about the investigation on his social media account.

“Defending the freedom of expression of everyone to the end, the Diyarbakır Bar Association will not restrict its own freedom of expression due to pressures and investigations,” Eren has said, adding:

“We will keep on defending our statements befitting our values in a manner befitting the same historical values.”


Bar prosecuted for the same reason before

The Diyarbakır Bar Association held a press statement in front of the Tahir Elçi Conference Hall on April 5 Lawyers’ Day and shared its report regarding the judicial pressures on lawyers with the public.

According to the data shared in the report, “taken together with the Bar Association Chair and Executive Board members on duty in the 2016-2020 period, at least 69 lawyers from the Bar faced at least 78 investigations due to their institutional and professional activities in 2020.”

Some of these legal proceedings were launched into the Diyarbakır Bar Association’s statements about April 24:

[…] (TURKCE),948640 (KURDI)

The Philippines: Duterte admin has seen more lawyers killed than previous presidents – NUPL


More lawyers were killed during Duterte’s tenure than under previous presidents, said the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL).

According to a report released Monday, over 50 lawyers were killed under the Duterte administration.

The attack on lawyers increased from one death during President Joseph Estrada’s term to 21 during President Benigno Aquino III’s term and 45 during President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term.

In the time of President Ferdinand Marcos and President Corazon Aquino, only four lawyers were attacked, while none during the presidency of Fidel Ramos.

In a span of 10 years between 2011 and 2021, NUPL recorded 176 attacks with 73 deaths.

From the 73 killings, exactly 54 happened during the Duterte administration, NUPL said.

“Since he began his term, there has been an average of 11 killings per year or almost one per month. Most of these killings appear to be unresolved to date,” the report stated.

The year with the most lawyers killed was 2018, with 16 deaths. Two judges and two prosecutors were also killed.

The biggest chunk of the attacks in 10 years, or 53 percent, was human rights-related. This means that these lawyers handled unionists, activists, political prisoners. Most of these lawyers were advocates, and most belong to organizations such as NUPL, Free Legal Assistance Group, and Public Interest Law Center.


Venezuela: Detenido por motivos desconocidos dirigente político y defensor de los DDHH Orlando Moreno


Orlando Moreno, dirigente político de Vente Venezuela y activista de los derechos humanos, fue detenido en horas del mediodía de este domingo 25 de abril,  por funcionarios de un órgano de seguridad del Estado.

Moreno se encontraba en las cercanías del área del paseo malecón Manamo de Tucupita, correspondiente al puerto del destacamento de Vigilancia Fluvial 911, cuyo acceso es restringido, cuando fue conminado a abordar una unidad del Cicpc, destinada a traslados y patrullaje.

Según testigos, el dirigente habría acudido en defensa de una persona a la que no le permitían fotos del procedimiento adelantado para recibir los cuerpos sin vida de tres personas, que viajaban en el bote siniestrado la madrugada del pasado jueves 22A.

Ante el presunto intento de retenerle el teléfono empleado como cámara, Moreno habría esgrimido sus credenciales de abogado e integrante del Foro Penal de Venezuela, manifestando que no podían impedir que el ciudadano cubriera gráficamente la actividad.

Posteriormente, en medio del fragor de la discusión, se le solicitó abordar la unidad, lo que hizo.

No se conoce el asunto de fondo, tampoco la determinación que hayan podido tomar las autoridades.

El caso ha reverberado en el ámbito nacional donde connotados activistas políticos y miembros de ONG’s advierten sobre su detención, exigiendo la liberación inmediata.


China: Police urged to pursue culprits over assault, threats to Chinese human rights lawyer


A group of Chinese human rights lawyers have urged police to find the mastermind behind an assault on lawyer Chen Keyun and those who had threatened him, it said in a statement on Saturday.

Chen was attacked by a group of men on Tuesday evening when he was walking in Tianhe district in Guangzhou. He suffered fractures to his ribs, several cuts to his body and had to be hospitalized.

The China Human Rights Lawyers Group demanded in the statement that Tianhe public security officers apprehend the assailants without delay and find the mastermind behind the attack.

The statement went on to say that Chen had been the target of intimidation this year since he had repeatedly refused requests from Guangzhou’s national security police for several interviews. The national security police officers then allegedly demanded Chen leave Tianhe district.

Chen had since received threatening letters taped to his car, which was later trashed by unidentified individuals last month.

Public harassment, threats, intimidation, forced break-ins, wiretapping and physical assaults are some known tactics national security officials have used against human rights lawyers and activists, the statement said. They were “legal” methods approved by national security agencies to “maintain stability,” according to the group.

It added that it could not rule out suspicions that national security officers were behind the attack, as other human rights lawyers had faced the same fate. It pointed to the case of Guo Feixiong, a human rights lawyer from Guangdong province, who was forbidden by Guangzhou national security police to return to his home in the city since he was released from prison in 2019. Dissident Lu Yulu, who founded a website chronicling incidents of China’s human rights resistance, was evicted from his home in March.

The rights to peace, freedom and lawful residence are citizens’ basic, constitutional and civil rights, the group said. Anyone who infringed on those rights in the name of “maintaining stability” through methods of intimidation and other illegal means would only backfire, it added.

Chen has defended several human rights activists in numerous cases. In 2017, Chen helped mobilize a group of lawyers to defend dozens of secondary school students from Hunan province who had developed tuberculosis. They accused authorities of covering up the incident and as a result had caused the outbreak to spread. Authorities had “illegally stripped” Chen of his lawyer’s license, the group said. (CHINESE)

Indonesia/Burma: Two rights lawyers arrested at ASEAN protests

24/04/21 (INDONESIAN)