Daily Archives: 18/08/2021

Azerbaijan: Submission to UN Human Rights Committee

18/08/21

Azerbaijan: Submission to UN Human Rights Committee

In the fall of 2021, the UN Human Rights Committee will review Azerbaijan’s compliance with its international human rights obligations, and more in particular the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Lawyers for Lawyers has taken the opportunity to file a submission on the list of issues prior to reporting to inform the Committee about the situation of lawyers in Azerbaijan.

The submission highlights four main issues: harassment and criminal prosecution of lawyers, disbarment and other disciplinary measures on improper grounds, access to a lawyer, and violations of freedom of expression of lawyers.

Lawyers for Lawyers has long been concerned about attempts to harass and disrupt the work of lawyers who work on cases that engage human rights or represent persons perceived to be critics of the Azerbaijani authorities and have been targeted solely because they are carrying out their professional activities.

We have reported on the cases of multiple lawyers who have faced administrative harassment on improper grounds. The use of disciplinary measures by the Azerbaijani Bar Association (ABA) to retaliate against lawyers for their human rights or professional activities has been a problem for years.

Furthermore, we are concerned about the low number of lawyers in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has among the lowest number of lawyers for every 100,000 in habitants compared to other European countries. This is due to a change in legislation in 2017, which excluded lawyers from representing individuals in criminal cases who were not a member of the ABA. Since 2018, the number of lawyers who are members of the ABA has increased, but still the number of lawyers in Azerbaijan is not sufficient to ensure everyone’s right of access to an independent lawyer of their own choice.

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Hong Kong leader tells legal body to stay out of politics

17/08/21

Chief executive Carrie Lam's comments towards the Law Society come as China remoulds Hong Kong in its own image

Hong Kong’s leader on Tuesday warned one of the city’s top legal bodies against getting involved in politics, in the latest sign of the government telling professional bodies to toe Beijing’s line.

Chief executive Carrie Lam’s comments towards the Law Society come as China remoulds Hong Kong in its own image and pursues civil society groups deemed to be politically disloyal or supportive of the city’s democracy movement.

“If the Law Society allows politics to hijack their legal profession, the government will… consider severing its relationship with it,” Lam told reporters, without spelling out what measures the government might take.

With over 12,000 members, the Law Society is the city’s largest association of solicitors and the only regulatory body of its type with statutory powers.

It can issue practising certificates, investigate professional malpractice and establish rules of conduct for the industry.

Next week it will elect five of its 20 council members and pro-establishment figures are concerned more liberal, pro-democracy minded lawyers might win.

On Sunday the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party, published a commentary warning the Law Society not to elect any “anti-China elements” and choose “professionalism rather than politics”.

The same commentary also described Hong Kong’s Bar Association — which represents barristers — as a “street rat”.

The Bar Association has been more outspoken than the Law Society about concerns that Hong Kong’s vaunted judicial independence is being undermined by China’s crackdown on dissent, including the imposition of a national security law that reshaped the city’s legal landscape.

In a statement responding to Lam’s comments, Law Society president Melissa Pang said her group had “remained politically neutral”.

Some legal figures expressed concerns about Lam’s comments.

“‘Politicized’ appears to be new govt code word for ‘non-pro-govt candidates winning a majority on the Law Society council’,” Antony Dapiran, a Hong Kong lawyer and author, wrote on Twitter.

China has cracked down on dissent and overseen a campaign to purge the city of people and groups deemed unpatriotic since huge and disruptive democracy protests convulsed Hong Kong two years ago.

Over 30 professional and political groups have disbanded in the past year, often after being singled out by Chinese state media and then investigated by authorities.

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https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210817-hong-kong-leader-tells-legal-body-to-stay-out-of-politics

https://hongkongfp.com/2021/08/16/hong-kongs-justice-sec-warns-law-societies-to-steer-clear-of-politics-after-chinese-state-media-blasts-barristers/

https://www.dw.com/en/hong-kong-leader-warns-law-society-to-stay-out-of-politics/a-58883794

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/hong-kong-leader-says-no-explicit-timetable-anti-foreign-sanctions-law-2021-08-17/

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3144275/hong-kong-law-society-elections-likely-be-quieter-year

https://www.hklawsoc.org.hk/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_Society_of_Hong_Kong

https://www.lapresse.ca/international/asie-et-oceanie/2021-08-17/hong-kong/la-cheffe-de-l-executif-demande-a-un-organe-juridique-de-rester-a-l-ecart-de-la-politique.php (FRANCAIS)

UK: Help Afghan lawyers escape ‘perilous future’ under Taliban rule, urge legal groups

17/08/21

A group of professional legal bodies have urged the UK government to help lawyers trapped in Afghanistan.

In a joint statement, the Law Society, Bar Council and Bar Human Rights Committee call on the government to offer asylum to female judges and other legal professionals in Afghanistan.

They are “gravely concerned” about the situation in Afghanistan and the fate of all those working in the country’s justice system who now face “a perilous future” under Taliban rule.

“We are extremely worried about the situation of at least 250 women judges in the country who we consider to be at particular risk,” the group said. “We urge the UK government not to abandon these courageous defenders of the rule of law and — in liaison with its international allies — to offer evacuation and safety and asylum in the UK to those women judges, their families, and other members of the legal profession who are in serious danger.”

The International Association of Women Judges yesterday raised concerns about their colleagues in Afghanistan, “given the special role they have played and are still playing, in upholding the rule of law and human rights for all, and the particular dangers they face as a result”. The group fear for their safety due to the nature of their work and the past rulings they have made in criminal, anti-corruption and family courts.

[…]

https://www.cba.org/News-Media/Press-Releases/2021/August/Statement-by-CBA-President-on-the-Situation-in-Afg?lang=en-ca

https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/29051

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/08/afghanistan-dispatches-i-personally-think-law-major-is-no-more-a-field-of-study-for-students-particularly-women/

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-merkel-warns-western-countries-must-offer-aid-to-afghans-fleeing/

https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/103053/afghanistan-joint-statement-international-community-latest-developments_en

https://www.avocatparis.org/afghanistan-le-barreau-de-paris-appelle-levacuation-des-civils-risque-pour-garantir-leur-protection (FRANCAIS)

https://www.cba.org/News-Media/Press-Releases/2021/August/Statement-by-CBA-President-on-the-Situation-in-Afg?lang=fr-ca

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