January 24, 2018
The American Bar Association joins the international community in recognizing the 2018 Day of the Endangered Lawyer. Now in its eighth year, the day is set aside to pay tribute to legal professionals around the globe who work to ensure that governments respect human rights obligations and commitments, often at great personal risk.
Courageous lawyers and judges face risks in countries throughout the world – risks ranging from harassment, surveillance and intimidation to disappearance, detention, prosecution, torture, imprisonment and worse.
As representatives of the justice system, lawyers and judges are essential to any society and merit particular attention and protection. Their unique role is enshrined in fundamental precepts of international law and norms. The longstanding U.N. Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers call for all steps necessary to ensure that lawyers are able to fulfill their professional responsibilities without intimidation, harassment or improper interference and to ensure that they are adequately safeguarded when their security is threatened. Similarly, the U.N. Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary underscore the importance of appropriate measures to ensure the safety and security of judges and to protect them from threats or interferences from any quarter or for any reason. In addition, the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights Defenders establishes the right of defenders, individually and in association with others, to offer legal assistance or other relevant advice in defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms; and the declaration further provides that states are to ensure an environment where defenders can do their work without fear of retribution.
The protection of lawyers, judges and human rights defenders is a responsibility of all lawyers. On this day, as we mark the annual Day of the Endangered Lawyer, the ABA salutes and stands in solidarity with the inspirational lawyers, judges and other human rights defenders around the world who serve and champion justice and the rule of law.