The Philippines: Duterte expands ‘drug war’ to a war on accountability

August 18, 2017

On Wednesday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte paused his routine incitement and instigation of the deaths of suspected drug users and drug dealers to identify a new public enemy: human-rights organizations demanding an end to his murderous “war on drugs”.

Duterte called for police to shoot human-rights activists “who are part of [drug activity]. If they [members of human-rights organizations] are obstructing justice, you shoot them.” (FRANCAIS)

Scotland/Spain: “I love life. I love unity”: Aamer Anwar hits back at far-right taunts after terror attack

August 18, 2017

AAMER ANWAR has condemned Tommy Robinson after the ex-English Defence League (EDL) leader called him an “Isis lawyer” after the University of Glasgow rector and human rights lawyer was caught up in the terror attack in Barcelona.

Anwar was an eye witness to the Las Ramblas attack on Thursday that killed 13 people and injured 100 more, 15 of whom are thought to be seriously injured.

Due to speak at a Catalonian conference on independence, Anwar told CommonSpace he was upset and angry about the amount of hate he saw online following the attack.

“I’ve seen Tommy Robinson calling me  the ISIS lawyer, I’m no ISIS lawyer. My life was put under threat from Islamic extremists last year.” Aamer Anwar

Egypt: World Bank Group Funding Used to Target and Suppress Human Rights Activists

August 17, 2017

It is no secret that many of the rights that are taken for granted in some countries are systematically and increasingly denied in others —particularly political freedoms such as freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. What might be surprising to many, however, is to find out that some of the investments funded by our tax money through international financial institutions like the World Bank Group are being used to target and suppress human rights activists.


On July 28th, 2017, a prominent Egyptian human rights activist submitted a complaint to the watchdog of the World Bank Group’s private sector arm – the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO), which holds the International Finance Corporation (IFC) accountable. The complaint alleges that a commercial bank in which the IFC holds an equity stake and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars, has colluded with the Egyptian regime to retaliate against human rights defenders, violated national law and the constitution, and threatened her safety.

On November 11th, 2016, Azza Soliman, a prominent human rights lawyer and activist, and founder of the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA), couldn’t withdraw money from her personal or business accounts with Ahli United Bank (AUB). She was one of the activists involved in the court case. Two weeks later, she was told that the bank’s decision to freeze the account was in response to a request from the investigative judge, in clear violation of a national law that stipulates that freezing assets can only be carried out via court order. In fact, the court order to freeze Azza’s assets was only issued a month later, on December 17th, 2016. Other Egyptian banks, complying with the law, notified her that the verdict would become effective a month from the verdict date (mid-January 2017).

The story didn’t end there. As a lawyer who knows her rights, Azza filed a police report against AUB. The investigative judge responded by issuing a retaliatory arrest warrant for Azza who was taken by force from her home in the early morning hours on December 7th, 2016, to the police station, then to the investigative judge office where she spent the full day before being bailed out. The story of her arrest went viral and was picked up by state-controlled media outlets. But the pro-regime hosts of some of the most- watched TV shows used this opportunity to renew their attack on human rights activists and especially on Azza in a way that exposed her and her family to further threats and intimidation.

Venezuela: Sacked and raided: Venezuela’s ex-attorney general Luisa Ortega says that raids are revenge for fight against totalitarianism

August 17, 2017

Venezuelan intelligence officers on Wednesday raided the home of the former attorney general, who was fired this month after she broke ranks with President Nicolas Maduro, while her replacement urged the arrest of her lawmaker husband.

Four motorbikes and seven patrol cars belonging to the SEBIN intelligence service were seen outside the Caracas home of the ex-attorney general, Luisa Ortega, AFP journalists observed.

“At this moment SEBIN is searching my home as revenge by this government for my fight against totalitarianism,” Ortega wrote on Twitter.

She did not say where she and her husband were.

Ortega was sacked two weeks ago as the first act of a new supreme assembly loyal to Maduro that has set about quashing dissent and hemming in the opposition, which controls the rival legislature. (FRANCAIS) (ESPANOL) (ITALIANO) (DEUTSCH)

The Philippines: International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers Preliminary Report on Lawyers Killed Under Duterte’s “Law and Order” Presidency

August 17, 2017

Gill Boehringer, Stuart Russell and Kristian Boehringer

On August 15, 2017 yet another lawyer was killed in the Philippines. This makes 10 since Rodrigo Duterte began his term of office as President on July 1, 2016. The International Association of Peoples’ Lawyers has been monitoring killings, and other attacks, on lawyers in the Philippines as well as countries around the globe. We presently list 115 countries where there have been credible reports of attacks on lawyers in recent years. In the Philippines the number of lawyers killed since January 1999 is about 130.

President Duterte came to the Presidency with a substantial vote (about 40%) in a large field of candidates. He was a surprise winner as he had no experience as a national political figure and, in the manner of the winner of the recent USA Presidential election, Donald Trump, campaigned on a populist program that included a strong focus on law and order. Duterte promised to reduce crime and corruption, and to eliminate the drug problem in the country in his first six months. That goal eluded him so he asked for another six months to complete the job. That extension expired with the war on drugs raging. Recently he has admitted he cannot finish the job in his six-year term, but assured the people that it would “ruthlessly” continue to the end of his tenure.

Despite his failure on the drugs front, Duterte claims, on the basis of statistics from the Philippine National Police indicating that the crime rate is trending down, that his promise to make the people feel safe on the streets again has been fulfilled. Whether the police statistics are accurate and comprehensive, and how to interpret them is beyond the scope of this preliminary report. To answer the questions that arise from those statistics would, at the least, require an investigation into citizen willingness to report crime (and other issues about crime statistics well known to criminologists) given the fear of reprisals from corrupt police and “vigilantes” in the context of the “drug war”. According to Dean Chel Diokno of Manila’s La Salle University Law School, that war has taken the lives of an estimated 10-12 thousand victims, most of whom were executed because they were suspected of being a drug user or pusher.

draft iapl report re duterte lawyer killings aug 17 final (FRANCAIS) (ESPANOL)

UK/Iraq: ‘Tank chasing’ lawyer defends decision to sue British army over Iraq

August 16, 2017

Image result for Martyn Day

Martyn Day thrives on a fight.

His critics accuse him of being a “tank chaser” for bringing hundreds of lawsuits against the British army over its actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. But others say Mr Day and Leigh Day, the law firm he co-founded in 1987, have pioneered class compensation lawsuits while other law firms have backed away.

Mr Day’s most notable successes include winning a £55m out-of-court settlement from oil group Royal Dutch Shell over two oil spills that affected thousands of Nigerian fishermen and a £19.9m compensation award from the UK government on behalf of Kenyans tortured by British troops in the 1950s.

“I’ve always liked those big fights, those big challenges,” he said in a recent interview with the Financial Times. “I started off doing personal injury cases but I really like a good fight.”

Earlier this year, Mr Day, 60, faced the fight of his career when he, two colleagues and Leigh Day were charged with professional misconduct for their handling of claims that British troops had tortured Iraqi civilians.

India/IAPL: The Ridiculous Case of Advocate Murugan

August 17, 2017

A. Murrugan, a young lawyer practicing at the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court was arrested from his residence on 8th January 2017. The police had gone to his house in the early morning 4 o’clock, and after arresting him seized his case papers, files, preparations for final arguments for some cases and books, Homeopathy medicines & a medical book, all easily available in the market. Ayyanan Murugan is also the Secretary of the Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties (CPCL), Tamilnadu. What makes his case rather surprising is that this Human Rights Lawyer was arrested in the same criminal trial wherein he was defending two accused and has been incarcerated since then.

It was based on these preliminary facts that the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) decided to send a team of lawyers from across the country to look into the absurdity of his case. D. Sureshkumar (Hyderabad), Arun Ferreira (Mumbai), Jagdish Meshram (Gadchiroli) and Gurunathan (Tamilnadu) from IAPL arrived in Madurai on 3rd August 2017. The team was able to meet Murugan who was in Trichy prison and collect the chargesheets filed against him. The team also met his wife, who too is a lawyer, some of his colleagues in court and the two counsels who defending him in applications before the High Court namely Adv. Jayaramachandran and Adv. Lajapathi Roy of Madurai.

IAPL ff report into Murugan arrest