Monthly Archives: October 2021

Kenya/Canada: Miguna Miguna Books a Flight Ahead of Return to Kenya


Miguna Miguna Books a Flight Ahead of Return to Kenya

Kenyan-Canadian lawyer Miguna Miguna says he has booked a flight ahead of his return to Kenya next month.

Through Twitter on Friday, the fiery attorney said he will land at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on the morning of November 16th.

Miguna, who was deported to Canada in February 2018 over his role in the swearing-in of ODM leader Raila Odinga as ‘people’s president’, indicated that he used his Kenyan passport to book his flight back home.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, I have used my Kenya Passport to book my flight to Kenya, scheduled to arrive in the morning of November 16, 2021, at the JKIA. Let no one claim that I have used any other passport,” said Miguna.

Retired Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said he will be traveling to Canada next month to accompany Miguna on his flight back home.

“I have taken this extraordinary step for two fundamental reasons. The first is because of the continued, flagrant and reprehensible defiance of the Government of Kenya, its agencies, and senior officials, against the numerous valid court orders in favor of Mr. Miguna,” Mutunga said in a statement.

“The second reason why I have decided to undertake this journey is to support and defend the independence of our judiciary, its authority, and the people’s confidence in it.” (SWAHILI) (FRANCAIS)

Egypt: Stop trials by emergency courts


The welcome lifting of a years-long state of emergency in Egypt is marred by ongoing trials of dozens of arbitrarily detained human rights defenders, activists, opposition politicians and peaceful protesters by emergency courts where proceedings are inherently unfair, Amnesty International said today. 

On 1 November, blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, human rights lawyer and director of Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms Mohamed Baker and blogger and activist Mohamed Ibrahim (known as Mohammed “Oxygen”), will appear before an Emergency State Security Court (ESSC) to face politically motivated charges of “spreading false information to undermine national security” over their social media posts. All three have spent more than two years in abusive pretrial detention in appalling conditions, denied private access to lawyers and regular contact with their families.

“The lifting of the state of emergency is good news in that the authorities will no longer be able to refer new cases to the emergency courts that were created under it. However, the news has a sting in its tail. Existing trials before these courts are set to continue, their number swollen by a recent string of referrals of detained human rights defenders and activists,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director.

“For this to be a meaningful step towards addressing Egypt’s human rights crisis, the authorities must immediately and unconditionally release those facing trial before emergency courts solely for peacefully exercising their human rights. They include Alaa Abdel Fattah, Mohamed Baker and Mohamed ‘Oxygen’ Ibrahim, who have already spent over two years in prison solely for their peaceful activism and defence of human rights. The authorities should also stop the use of emergency courts altogether, as their proceedings breach the most basic fair trial standards, including defendants’ right to have their convictions and sentences reviewed by higher courts.”

On 25 October 2021, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced that he would not extend the state of emergency, in force since 2017.  Yet in the three months preceding this decision, the Egyptian authorities referred at least 20 human rights defenders, activists and opposition politicians to trial before emergency courts. 

Egypt’s ESSCs are activated during a state of emergency, since the Emergency Law allows the president to appoint judges to the courts and to designate crimes that are subject to their jurisdiction. Prosecutors then refer all cases related to those crimes to ESSCs, but are no longer able to do so once the state of emergency ends. Article 19 of the law governing the state of emergency stipulates that ongoing trials are to continue even after the state of emergency is no longer in force.

Tried by emergency courts on bogus “false information” charges

The charges against both Alaa Abdelfattah and Mohamed Baker stem from their criticism of the authorities’ treatment of prisoners and suspicious deaths in custody, while charges against Mohamed “Oxygen” are based on his posts about the government’s poor track record in upholding socio-economic rights. None of their posts include any incitement to violence or hatred and are therefore protected under Egypt’s constitution and international obligations to respect the right to freedom of expression.


May be an image of 2 people and text that says "The Observatory @OBS_defenders defenders #Egypt: The detention and judicial harassment against rights defenders Mohamed El-Baqer, Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed Oxygen is ongoing after +2 years of arbitrary detention. They must be immediately released & all charges against them dropped!"
May be an image of ‎1 person, beard and ‎text that says "‎.باقر السجن في سنتين Baker.. 2 Years in Prison‎"‎‎

Mainland Chinese lawyer who tried to help Hong Kong fugitive arrested while fleeing to Taiwan stripped of licence


Lin Qilei is the third mainland Chinese lawyer who was involved in one of the cases of the Hong Kong fugitives to have his license revoked. Photo: Handout
  • Lin Qilei was involved in defence of Hong Kong fugitives caught by national coastguard while trying to flee to Taiwan last year
  • Lin, who had been hired to represent student Kok Tsz-lun, is third lawyer involved in the cases to have permit revoked

Mainland Chinese authorities have deregistered a third human rights lawyer involved in the defence of Hong Kong fugitives caught by the national coastguard while trying to flee to Taiwan last year.

Lin Qilei revealed on Sunday that the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice had written to him saying it had decided to revoke his licence.

The lawyer was hired by the family of university student Kok Tsz-lun, one of 12 Hongkongers arrested and jailed by mainland authorities after trying to flee prosecution in August 2020 over their roles in anti-government protests the year before.

According to the letter, the bureau said the decision to revoke Lin’s licence was due to his inability to secure a job at another firm after the one he headed, Beijing Rui Kai, was deregistered by the authorities for six months.

It said Lin could apply to review the decision within 60 days or launch a legal bid at Tongzhou District People’s Court within six months.

Lin tweeted he was scornful of the authorities’ suggestions and noted he had previously been ignored by the Tongzhou court after attempting to appeal against the move to deregister his law firm.

“The court neither received [my] submission nor responded,” he said. “I have preliminarily lost my confidence in law.”

There was nothing he could do, Lin said, when “even laws could not stop shameless acts”.

Two other lawyers, Lu Siwei and Ren Quanniu, who represented family’s of the fugitives, also lost their licences.


Russia: Exiled Lawyer for Navalny, Safronov Says Placed on Russia’s Wanted List


A prominent Russian human rights lawyer who fled Russia to escape criminal charges has been placed on the country’s wanted list, he said Thursday.

Ivan Pavlov left Russia for the Caucasus republic of Georgia in early September after authorities charged him with disclosing details of an investigation into his former client, jailed journalist Ivan Safronov. Russian law enforcement briefly detained Pavlov in April and confiscated a number of documents during searches of his apartment.

According to Pavlov, Russian investigators issued an order last week to place him on a wanted list without notifying him or his lawyers.

“We learned about it from Ivan Safronov,” Pavlov wrote on the Telegram messaging app, referring to his one-time client who faces trial for treason.

“It’s not difficult to establish my location — just call me,” Pavlov said.

Pavlov has worked for high-profile clients including Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who is serving a 2.5-year prison sentence on old embezzlement charges he denies.

Navalny was convicted upon returning to Russia earlier this year after being treated abroad for an August 2020 nerve-agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin.

Pavlov himself was detained in April on charges of disclosing details of the treason investigation into Safronov, which he denies.

Authorities also declared Pavlov’s since-disbanded independent legal group Team 29 an “undesirable” organization with foreign links over the summer. 

The designation places Pavlov at risk of up to six years in prison. (FRANCAIS)


Belarusian authorities punish lawyers defending human rights


Four lawyers who represented jailed former presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka have been banned from the profession. At least 27 lawyers have already been barred from practising in reprisal for speaking out against the recent wave of repression in Belarus.

On October 25, the Minsk Bar Association disbarred prominent Belarusian defense lawyer Natalia Matskevich, the latest in a wide-raging and politically motivated crackdown on lawyers.

Matskevich is one of four lawyers who represented Viktar Babaryka, former presidential contender arrested on politically motivated charges in June 2020 in the run-up to the August 9 election. In July 2021, Supreme Court sentenced Babaryka to 14 years in prison for “grand bribery” and “laundering of illicit funds.”

On October 20, the Justice Ministry suspended the license of Evgeni Pylchenka, a lawyer who also represented Babaryka, pending the outcome of a disciplinary case against him. Matskevich’s disbarment and Pylchenka’s suspension came soon after they had filed an appeal in Babaryka’s case. Their colleagues said these sanctions were “absurd” and based on “ridiculous” allegations, including “some [supposedly] incorrectly worded questions to witnesses during trial.”

In July, days after Babaryka’s verdict, authorities stripped his then-lawyer Dmitry Layevsky of his attorney’s license, citing “inappropriate comments about the work of his colleagues.” Prior to his disbarment, Layevsky had faced pressure from the authorities and the Minsk Bar Association.

In October 2020, the Justice Ministry terminated the license of Aliaksandr Pylchenka, another prominent member of Babaryka’s defense team, over supposed “incompetent comments to mass media”


Russian Authorities Arrest Crimean Tatar Lawyer While Representing His Clients


Edem Semdlyaev, Simferopol, Crimea 2021

Yesterday, Russian authorities arbitrarily arrested lawyer Edem Semedlyaev, while he was advising clients at a police station, who themselves had been arbitrarily arrested. Today court released Semedlyaev pending review of the charges.

Semedlyaev is one of the few lawyers who continue to risk working on politically sensitive cases in Crimea. 

Semedlyaev arrived at the police station in Simferopol on Monday afternoon, to provide legal representation for Crimean Tatars detained earlier that day. The Crimean Tatars were detained outside a military court building, where they arrived to observe an appeal hearing in one of the many bogus “terrorism” cases brought against Crimean Tatars since Russia occupied the peninsula in 2014.

Due to quarantine restrictions, the judge allowed only five into the courtroom, while the rest remained outside. Although those outside complied with police orders to maintain the required distance apart and wear masks, after 20 minutes the National Guard arrived and detained 21 men, including several journalists. They took them to the police station and charged them with violating quarantine restrictions.

Another lawyer present at the police station told Human Rights Watch that Semedlyaev had asked an officer from the Interior Ministry’s anti-extremism department not to take away one of the detainees, to whom he wanted to provide legal counsel when he was finished with his current client. The officer refused, and Semedlyaev started an audio recording on his phone. The officer ordered Semedlyaev to stop recording and then suddenly ordered him and another lawyer to fully undress, allegedly to see if they had any “extremist tattoos.” Semedlyaev refused and was arrested on two counts of disobeying a police officer, an administrative offence punishable by a fine and up to 15 days in jail. He spent the night in a holding cell. He appeared before a court this evening and was released pending review of the charges.


Turkey sentenced 450 lawyers to 2,786 years in prison after 2016 coup: report


Four-hundred-fifty lawyers in Turkey have been sentenced to 2,786 years in total on trumped-up charges of terrorism since a coup attempt in July 2016, Turkish Minute reported, citing a statement by the Arrested Lawyers Initiative, an advocacy group defending lawyers’ rights.

The statement, released Monday on the occasion of October 25, European Lawyers Day, also said more than 1,600 lawyers had been arrested and prosecuted while 615 had been remanded to pre-trial detention in the same period.

“In 77 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, lawyers have been detained and arrested on trumped-up charges as part of criminal investigations orchestrated by the political authorities and conducted by provincial public prosecutors,” they said, noting that 450 attorneys were sentenced to 2,786 years in total on charges that include “membership of an armed terrorist organization” and “spreading terrorist propaganda.”

According to the statement, 15 of the lawyers who were detained or arrested after the 2016 coup were current or former presidents of provincial bar associations and some lawyers under arrest were subjected to torture and ill-treatment.

“The Turkish government has also targeted Turkish lawyers’ right to free association,” the report said, adding that 34 lawyers’ societies or associations have been shut down since the declaration of a state of emergency days after the attempted coup, with all their assets confiscated.

The group stated in conclusion that they would be “most grateful” if arrested Turkish lawyers are remembered and that people speak up against the ongoing persecution of Turkish lawyers on the occasion of European Lawyers Day.

In the latest incident of operations targeting lawyers in Turkey, the police on Tuesday detained 10 as part of an operation carried out in İstanbul, Ankara, Adana, Van, Diyarbakır, Antalya and Denizli provinces and targeted members of the Gülen movement.


The Tajik Government’s Style Of Justice And Mercy


Buzurgmehr Yorov (file photo)

International rights watchdogs have long charged that the judiciary system in Tajikistan is often used to punish perceived enemies of the government.

There are, indeed, many cases in recent years to support those claims. And even when moved to gestures of mercy, the Tajik courts and state officials seem callous in their actions.

The following are some of the most egregious recent cases.

The Lawyer

Buzurgmehr Yorov is a Tajik attorney who was detained in late September 2015 and shortly thereafter sentenced to 28 years in prison.

In honor of Tajikistan marking 30 years of independence this year, an amnesty has been granted to some prisoners. Yorov had four years removed from his long sentence.

The 50-year-old attorney had a reputation for defending people who had little, if any, chance of proving their innocence in Tajik courts.

He defended members of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), a group that had been in a power-sharing agreement with President Emomali Rahmon’s government and was later seen by Rahmon as an impediment to his exerting greater control over the country.

Yorov also defended fellow lawyer Fakhriddin Zokirov, who was the attorney of businessman Zayd Saidov.

Saidov founded a new political party — Tajikistan Now — in April 2013 and was convicted in December that same year on charges of fraud, polygamy, and statutory rape, charges seen as politically motivated.

Zokirov was arrested in March 2014 on forgery charges and was held for eight months before he received an amnesty.

Saidov’s second lawyer, Shuhrat Kudratov, was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of fraud and bribery. His term was shortened after two rounds of amnesties.


Chinese lawyers banned from discussing cases in public in latest move to tighten control over legal sector


The Chinese legal sector has faced ever-tighter controls. Photo: Shutterstock
  • New guidelines from the official professional association say some lawyers have been ‘hyping up cases’ and trying to influence public opinion
  • Practising and former lawyers warn that the measures will prevent them from representing their clients properly and curb their freedom of speech

China’s official lawyers’ association has introduced new guidelines that ban lawyers from “hyping up cases” online or in the media in the latest move to tighten control over the legal profession.

The ethical guidelines issued by the All-China Lawyers Association this week came into force with immediate effect, initially on a provisional basis.

The Communist Party has been extending its reach into the legal system with tighter regulations and a string of disbarments since 2015’s “709 crackdown”, which saw about 300 rights lawyers, legal assistants and activists rounded up around the country.

A briefing issued by the association said a “small number of lawyers” had “commented inappropriately and disclosed details to hype up their cases”, adding that the guidelines were designed to strengthen professional ethics and enforce discipline by stopping lawyers from releasing details of their cases through the internet, the media or clients’ families.

“Some publicise their cases on the internet to enable ‘trial by public opinion’ while some breach clients’ privacy, insult and defame case handlers, vilify their opponents and mislead public opinion in an attempt to influence the case proceedings,” it continued.

Lawyers are also not allowed to organise petitions and press conferences, publish open letters or engage in public advocacy works with the purpose of fanning public opinion to influence court decisions.

The guidelines say they cannot release documents, video or photographs without court approval.

They will also apply to cases in the post-trial stage, including appeals and retrials.


May be an image of text that says ""Just like everyone else, lawyers are entitled to freedom of opinion, expression, association and peaceful assembly." Diego García García-Sayán UN expert on the ndependence of judges and magistrates UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS மροα Offico /UNHumanRightsAsia /ohchrasia /onchrasiapacific"

Tunisia: Des avocats manifestent pour demander la libération de Seïf Eddine Makhlouf


Des avocats manifestent pour demander la libération de Seïf Eddine Makhlouf

Des avocats ont manifesté, jeudi 21 octobre 2021, leur soutien à leur confrère Seïf Eddine Makhlouf.

Les avocats, durant une vidéo publiée à la même date par l’avocate Ines Harath, se sont regroupés sur les marches extérieurs du tribunal de première instance de Tunis.

Ils ont demandé la libération de Seïf Eddine Makhlouf mais appelé aussi à l’abolition de la comparution de civils devant les tribunaux militaires.

Pour rappel, Seïf Eddine Makhlouf a été arrêté le 27 septembre 2021. Il a fait l’objet de deux mandats de dépôt émis par le tribunal militaire dans l’affaire de l’aéroport et pour menaces et outrage à magistrat. Il a entamé une grève de la faim le jeudi 14 octobre 2021.,520,113252,3,520,112611,3 (ENGLISH)