Daily Archives: 23/08/2021

Belarus tightens grip on lawyers

23/08/21

Belarusian lawyer Mikhail Kirilyuk sits during an interview with Reuters in Warsaw, Poland June 15, 2021. REUTERS/Kuba Stezycki

Belarusian lawyer Mikhail Kirilyuk says he received an unsettling text message in October from an acquaintance linked to the country’s security services.

The acquaintance urged Kirilyuk, who had defended anti-government protesters and publicly criticised President Alexander Lukashenko’s rule, to leave the country. According to Kirilyuk, who said the text was sent via an encrypted messaging app and described its content to Reuters, the message also contained a warning: The attorney faced arrest and revocation of his license to practice law.

Kirilyuk left that month with his parents and young children for Poland, which has long been critical of Lukashenko. In February, the justice ministry revoked Kirilyuk’s license, according to an April Minsk court document relating to his unsuccessful appeal. The ministry said in a February press release that Kirilyuk had made “unacceptable” public statements that contained “rude” and “tactless” comments about state representatives, without identifying them.

Speaking with Reuters from Warsaw, 38-year-old Kirilyuk said he believed the action against him was politically motivated because of who he had represented and his public critical comments. He said he left because he “didn’t want to get arrested” and that he won’t return home until Lukashenko is out of office.

Kirilyuk’s account fits with what more than half a dozen Belarusian lawyers as well as international organizations representing the profession and human-rights groups say is a pattern of intimidation and suppression of attorneys by Belarusian authorities. Those actions include criminal and disciplinary proceedings against lawyers and disbarment, they say.

Seven lawyers interviewed by Reuters say their licenses were removed after defending protesters, speaking out against authorities or resisting what they said was pressure on their profession. Several of them allege that authorities monitored confidential client meetings or obstructed their work. Reuters was unable to independently corroborate their assertions or the text message described by Kirilyuk.

[…]

https://www.nippon.com/en/news/reu20210823KBN2FO0RY/belarus-tightens-grip-on-lawyers.html

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/belarus-tightens-grip-lawyers-2021-08-23/

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/europe-central-asia/belarus/belarus-months-after-arbitrary-detention-viasna-s-members-must-be

Rwanda deports Belgian lawyer representing Paul Rusesabagina

22/08/21

Paul Rusesabagina, the “Hotel Rwanda” hero turned government critic, was denied access to the Kigali prison where his client is being held pending the verdict of his trial for terrorism and deported to Belgium.

According to Rwandan authorities, Vincent Lurquin was deported and declared persona non grata for violating immigration laws.

The Rwanda Bar Association raised a complaint because Lurquin was not accredited to practice in Rwanda.

He claims he has not been able to see his client for the past year.

“I have not seen my client, that is the whole problem. They refuse to let me see my client, I went to see the President of the Bar who did not want to see me, I went to see the Attorney General who did not want to see me, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice. But in Belgium, the Minister of Foreign Affairs contacted his counterpart. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office has also done so and they don’t want to answer us, they don’t want me to see him,” Vincent said.

The Rwanda Bar Association raised a complaint because Lurquin was not accredited to practice in Rwanda.

Authorities said that Vincent came through a visitation visa and was not allowed to work in Rwanda with the said document.

A Rwandan court will deliver next month its delayed verdict in the terrorism trial of Paul Rusesabagina, the judiciary announced on Friday.

Initially, a decision in the highly watched case against the 67-year-old Rusesabagina had been due on Friday but it was delayed without any reason given.

The Rwandan judiciary said on Twitter that the court would now announce its verdict against Rusesabagina and his 20 co-accused on September 20 at 11 am.

Prosecutors have sought a life sentence for Rusesabagina, the former hotelier credited with saving hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide, and whose bravery inspired the Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda”.

[…]

https://www.africanews.com/2021/08/22/rwanda-deports-belgian-lawyer-representing-paul-rusesabagina/

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/rwanda-deports-rusesabagina-s-belgian-lawyer/2342531

https://www.lalibre.be/international/afrique/2021/08/22/lavocat-belge-expulse-du-rwanda-demande-le-soutien-de-la-belgique-6YYCW3L4JVGILHDC7HRMLDMI2Q/ (FRANCAIS)

https://www.aa.com.tr/fr/afrique/le-rwanda-expulse-un-avocat-belge-/2342593

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_Lurquin

https://www.vrt.be/vrtnws/nl/2021/08/22/hotel-rwanda-fup/ (VLAAMS)