Tag Archives: Amnesty International

Urgent appeal: Rights organizations call on Lebanese authorities to cease the intimidation of human rights lawyer Mohammed Sablouh


Human rights organizations are gravely concerned by the Lebanese authorities’ recent attempts to silence and discredit Mohammed Sablouh, a human rights lawyer defending victims of torture and Syrian refugees facing deportation. The actions of the Lebanese authorities represent an unacceptable infringement on the work of lawyers and other human rights defenders, in light of Lebanon’s ongoing failure to meet its legal obligations to prevent and punish the use of torture and to abide by the principle of non-refoulement.

Mohammed Sablouh is a Lebanese lawyer and the director of the Prisoners’ Rights Center at the Tripoli Bar Association. For nearly 15 years, he has been documenting cases of torture and other ill-treatment in Lebanese detention facilities and advocating on behalf of victims both at the domestic and international levels. Recently, Sablouh’s work exposing the torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners in the Military Police prison in Beirut, at the Fakhr El-Din barrack (Ramla al-Bayda), and his advocacy against the forcible deportation of Syrian refugees garnered significant media coverage in the Lebanese press. As a result, he has been subjected to abusive legal challenges and other forms of intimidation, particularly from the General Security Directorate and the Military Prosecution.

On 23 September 2021, the Government’s Commissioner to the Military Court, Judge Fadi Akiki and the Military Police, pressured one of Sablouh’s clients, a detainee in the Fakhr El-Din facility, to testify that Sablouh’s allegations of torture were fabricated, according to family members. On 28 September, the Military Prosecution sent a letter to the Tripoli Bar Association requesting the authorization to prosecute Sablouh under article 403 of the Lebanese Penal Code, which penalizes false accusations. This request indicates that the Lebanese authorities are initiating retaliatory legal proceedings against Sablouh in an attempt to discredit his legally sanctioned work documenting instances of torture.

By obstructing the work of lawyers, Lebanon is violating its own laws and criminal procedures as well as its international human rights obligations. The UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers requires governments to ensure that lawyers “are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference” and that they “shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.” On 8 October, Sablouh’s case was submitted to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the independence of judges and lawyers and on human rights defenders.

Call to action

We, the undersigned national and international human rights organizations, call on Lebanon to respect the work of lawyers and others advocating on behalf of victims of torture and to  adhere to its legal obligations to prevent and punish the use of torture.

We call on the Lebanese authorities, and particularly the Military Prosecution and the General Security Directorate, to:




Iraq: Rights lawyer Ali Jaseb Hattab Al Heliji disappeared since arrest in Amarah on October 8, 2019


On October 8, 2019, human rights lawyer Ali Jaseb Hattab Al Heliji went to the southern city of Amarah to meet one of his clients. However, shortly after arriving at the rendezvous point, he was arrested by members of the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU). As a lawyer, Al Heliji had represented several demonstrators arrested in connection with the anti-government October demonstrations. On March 10, 2021, his father was assasinated in the city of Amarah.

Ali Jaseb Hattab Al Heliji is a human rights lawyer representing demonstrators arrested in connection with the recent anti-government demonstrations. On October 1, 2019, protests started in Baghdad and southern cities calling for improved services and more action to curb corruption. The demonstrations were met by excessive and unnecessary lethal force by Iraqi security forces and have resulted in a hundred people killed and about 4000 injured.

On October 6, 2019, two armed men from the PMU came to Ali Jaseb Hattab’s home to warn him from speaking out on Facebook about the killing of protesters and to stop accusing certain factions of the PMU of being responsible for these killings. The armed men then threatened Ali Jaseb Hattab that they would kill him if he did not stop.

On October 8, 2019, Ali Jaseb Hattab received a call from one of his clients who wanted to meet. The two men were supposed to meet in the southern city of Amara in the Missan province. However, when Al Heliji arrived at the rendezvous point, armed men in two black pick-up trucks belonging to the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) dragged him away from his car, where he stood speaking to his client, and then drove him away in one of the trucks. When Ali Jaseb Hattab’s relatives reported his abduction, local security forces told them that they were not aware of his arrest. His fate and whereabouts remain unknown to date.

On March 10, 2021, Ali Jaseb Hattab’s father, Jaseb Hattab Al Heliji, was shot dead in the city of Amarah, in the Iraqi governorate of Maysan. He was a vocal advocate for his son, constantly calling for his release and for criminal sanctions against the parties responsible for his disappearance.




https://www.amnesty.de/mitmachen/urgent-action/irak-menschenrechtsanwalt-weiterhin-verschwunden-2020-11-06 (DEUTSCH)

Persecuted Pakistani Christian couple flee to Europe


Persecuted Pakistani Christian couple flee to Europe

The Christian Pakistani couple Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, who recently became acquitted of blasphemy, Pakistan has fled. Their lawyer reports that the prosecutor in the case will appeal in cassation to have the couple sentenced to death for insulting the prophet Mohammed.

The couple had been detained on suspicion of blasphemy since 2013 and were acquitted on appeal by the Lahore court two months ago. The verdict was that there was not enough evidence. Then, after eight years in different prisons, they were reunited with each other and their children.

Now that it has become clear that the prosecutor has gone to the Supreme Court, the Help for Persecuted Christians (HVC) foundation has announced that the family has been brought to safety in a European country. Which country that is, is not said for security reasons. Shagufta Kausar’s brother, who lives in the Netherlands, tells the NOS that they are indeed safe.

Asian Aunt

HVC director Jan Dirk van Nifterik: “We are happy and grateful that the family was able to leave Pakistan before they were arrested again. If they had to wait for the appeal, it could take years again.” According to HVC, the family is doing well under the circumstances and wants to build a new life in Europe.

The couple says through the foundation that they are grateful for all the efforts of security services, judges in Pakistan and aid organizations that have helped them. Lawyer Saif-ul-Malook, who previously assisted the refugee Asia Bibi, is also thanked.

Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi was acquitted in a similar case in 2018, after which Muslim extremists started a manhunt for her and her family. Although she was free to leave Pakistan, she was unable to do so for a long time. Lawyer Saif-ul-Malook finally announced in May 2019 that she to Canada had fled.







https://nos.nl/artikel/2393597-vervolgd-pakistaans-christelijk-echtpaar-vlucht-naar-europa (NEDERLANDS)


Burundi: Release lawyer Tony Germain Nkina


Burundi - Wikipedia

Ex-Member of Civil Society Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison

Burundian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release lawyer, Tony Germain Nkina, who was sentenced to five years in prison in June 2021 in all likelihood because of his past human rights work, six international human rights groups said today.

The groups – Amnesty International, the Burundi Human Rights Initiative, DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project), Human Rights Watch, Protection International and TRIAL International – believe that the likely reason for Nkina’s arrest was his former affiliation with the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (Association pour la protection des droits humains et des personnes détenues, APRODH), which was one of the leading human rights groups in Burundi until 2015.

The prosecution and imprisonment of Tony Germain Nkina is a worrying reminder that those who used to be part of Burundi’s once vibrant human rights movement are still at risk. The Burundian authorities should demonstrate their commitment to protecting human rights by immediately releasing Nkina and dropping all the charges against him. Burundi’s international partners should support the calls for his release.

Nkina, a lawyer in Kayanza province in northern Burundi, was arrested on October 13, 2020, in Kabarore commune, where he was visiting a client for his professional work. He was briefly detained by the intelligence service in Kayanza, then transferred to police detention, and finally to Ngozi prison, where he is currently detained.

October 2020 was a tense period in Kayanza following attacks by an armed group in the previous weeks, with several people killed or abducted. Nkina happened to visit Kabarore, one of the areas affected, soon after these attacks. The authorities accused him of collaborating with the armed opposition group RED-Tabara (Resistance for the Rule of Law in Burundi), which they hold responsible for the attacks, and charged him with endangering internal state security.

On June 15, 2021, the court of Kayanza convicted Nkina of “collaboration with rebels who attacked Burundi,” and sentenced him to five years in prison and a fine of one million Burundian francs (approximately US$ 500). His client, Apollinaire Hitimana, whom he had been advising on a land dispute and was arrested with him, was found guilty of complicity in the same offence and sentenced to two and a half years and a fine of 500,000 Burundian francs. An appeal hearing is scheduled for August 12, at the Ngozi court of appeal.






https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2021/08/10/burundi-liberez-lavocat-tony-germain-nkina (FRANCAIS)



Egypt: Renewed Judicial Harassment of Rights Defenders


Human rights activist Gamal Eid is seen at a court in Cairo, March 24, 2016.

 Egyptian authorities have summoned at least five prominent human rights defenders during July 2021 for questioning as part of a decade-old criminal investigation, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities have used Case 173 of 2011 to arbitrarily prosecute leading rights defenders and organizations over allegations of receiving foreign funds.

Since 2016, authorities have summoned for interrogation dozens of members of nongovernment groups, mostly human rights organizations, and placed over 30 of them on arbitrary travel ban lists, and frozen the assets of over a dozen organizations and individuals. Three of the five people summoned in July had not been questioned previously. The case has had a chilling impact on civic space in Egypt.

“Egyptian authorities should close Case 173 once and for all, and stop harassing independent rights organizations for doing their work,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The repeated summons, on top of travel bans and asset freezes, is clearly a tactic to stifle civic space in Egypt.”

Those summoned most recently include Mozn Hassan, a women’s rights defender and director of Nazra for Feminist Studies and Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, on July 29. On July 27, the authorities summoned Gamal Eid, director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, and Negad al-Borie, director of the law firm United Group. On July 15, the authorities summoned Azza Soliman, women’s rights defender and director of the Center for Egyptian Women Legal Awareness. The authorities had not previously summoned Bahgat, Eid, or al-Borie despite banning them several years ago from leaving the country.

Based on social media posts and statements by the activists following the latest prosecution sessions, the questions by the investigative judge, Ali Mokhtar, focused on the activists groups’ funding, in some cases as far back as 2005.

Judge Mokhtar allowed them to look at the prosecution file, which consisted mainly of National Security Agency allegations against them and their organizations, such as “tarnishing the image of the government” and in some cases referencing reports these organizations published about human rights abuses. The judge did not allow any of them to take copies of the prosecution files or inform them of the actual charges they are being investigated for.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said in a statement that Eid’s interrogation lasted about three hours and that the judge ordered him to return for another session on August 1. The statement said that the prosecution file, which Human Rights Watch has not seen, included National Security Agency allegations that Eid and ANHRI had played a role in the country’s 2011 nationwide uprising, and that ANHRI had received funding from Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). CPJ has denied those allegations. Human Rights Watch is typically not a grant-making organization, Human Rights Watch said.







https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azza_Soliman (FRANCAIS)

https://www.giustiziainsieme.it/it/il-magistrato/1894-mahienour-el-masry-difendere-ad-ogni-costo-i-diritti-umani-in-egitto-prima-e-dopo-la-rivoluzione-del-nilo-di-federico-cappelletti (ITALIANO)

Concerns about access to the legal profession and increasing disbarments of lawyers in Turkey


Concerns about access to the legal profession and increasing disbarments of lawyers in Turkey

In a joint statement, Lawyers for Lawyers, AIJA – International Association of Young Lawyers, the Institute for the Rule of Law of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA-IROL), the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, The Law Society of England and Wales, and The Netherlands Helsinki Committee express concern about access to the legal profession and the increasing number of disbarments in Turkey.

We, the undersigned organizations, have long been deeply concerned about the increasingly challenging and hostile environment  in which  lawyers in Turkey have had to operate since the state of emergency following the attempted coup in July 2016. Lawyers have been subjected to judicial harassment, including mass arrests, raids, violent attacks, threats, surveillance, illegitimate criminal charges, unfair trials and harsh sentences in disregard of the most basic principles of the rule of law.

We are worried about another tool used by the government to further target and pressure lawyers, by preventing individuals who are being investigated, prosecuted or dismissed by emergency decrees which have now become part of the permanent law, from enrolling in law apprenticeships or obtaining their license to practice law.[i] This systematic practice has increased considerably since the state of emergency.[ii] We are also alarmed about the growing number of lawyers who have seen their licenses to practice law annulled on the same grounds.



https://www.amnesty.fr/liberte-d-expression/actualites/les-11-distanbul-une-affaire-emblematique-de-la-repression-en-turquie (FRANCAIS)



Amnesty International South Asia on Twitter


Hejaaz Hizbullah, a prominent Sri Lankan lawyer, was arrested on 14 April 2020 and has since been detained on trumped-up charges under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Hejaaz Hizbullah has been targeted for his work, and his advocacy for the rights of Muslim minorities in the country. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released and all charges against him dropped.


Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam
Attorney General’s Department
Hulftsdorp Street,
Colombo 12
Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 112 436421
Email: administration@attorneygeneral.gov.lk

Dear Attorney General,

I am deeply concerned about the prolonged detention of Sri Lankan lawyer and minority and civic rights activist Hejaaz Hizbullah. Detained since 14 April 2020 on trumped-up charges under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), no credible evidence of wrongdoing has yet been presented before a court.

It is distressing to learn that, since his arrest, Hejaaz Hizbullah has been repeatedly denied due process safeguards recognized by international law. He has been held in prolonged administrative detention without judicial oversight to monitor his wellbeing, without access to bail. While in police custody he was prevented from accessing his legal counsel in private until an order was made by the Court of Appeal. Even following his indictment in February 2021 and being moved to judicial remand, access to family and counsel has been restricted.







Targeting of Algerian lawyers constitutes new escalation in the unrelenting criminalisation of fundamental freedoms


Targeting of Algerian lawyers constitutes new escalation in the unrelenting criminalisation of fundamental freedoms

The undersigned organizations are concerned about the attacks against lawyers from the Collective for the Defence of Hirak Detainees, as part of the Algerian authorities’ accelerated crackdown on the peaceful Hirak movement. The organisations are further alarmed by the recent summary sanctioning of judges, the calling into question of the immunity of lawyers, and the adoption of Ordinance 21-09 which provides for up to five years of prison for individuals who share information about ongoing judicial investigations or prosecutions, including lawyers, thereby directly obstructing human rights work and opening the door for reprisals. The statement is also available in العربية.

The targeting of Algerian lawyers and judges comes against the backdrop of a near-total closure of public space for peaceful protests following mass arrests, increased use of unlawful force and obstruction of protesters. Peaceful protesters, activists, rights defenders and journalists continue to face arbitrary detention and prosecution.

As of 30 June, there are at least 304 prisoners of conscience, a record number, while more than 6,400 peaceful protesters have been arrested since the return of the Hirak pro-democracy protest movement. There is also an alarming  new trend of prosecuting human rights defenders, peaceful protesters and journalists on the basis of unfounded terrorism charges. The role of lawyers in protecting the rule of law and human rights is all the more fundamental given the context of the current crackdown in Algeria.

On 11 May 2021, the Spokesperson for the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, expressed concern about the situation in Algeria “where the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and participation in public affairs continue to be under attack”. Among other things, Colville called on the Algerian authorities to “(…) cease all forms of harassment and intimidation” against people participating in the Hirak movement.

We have received information that as part of this crackdown on fundamental freedoms in Algeria, lawyers are increasingly targeted.

[… ]





https://www.amnesty.org/es/latest/news/2021/06/algeria-scores-detained-in-escalation-of-crackdown-against-activists/ (ESPANOL)


Belarus: Law Faculty student arrested over graduation speech must be immediately released


Reacting to the news that Katsyaryna Vinnikava, a student of the Law Faculty of the Belarusian State University, has been sentenced to 15 days’ arrest by the Belarusian authorities after giving a graduation speech in which she honoured past staff members and graduates who have faced reprisals for their support of peaceful protesters and opposition to political repression, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“The Belarusian authorities have once again shown their determination to stifle all dissent. The latest target is a young woman whose supposed crime was to profess respect for rights and justice in front of her university peers.

“Katsyaryna Vinnikava must be released immediately and unconditionally, and all proceedings against her must be terminated. The Belarusian authorities must stop fighting their own people and put an end to politically motivated repression by releasing everyone who has been deprived of their liberty solely for exercising their human rights.”


On 29 June, Katsyaryna Vinnikava gave a graduation speech which included the words: “I wish each of us to love, defend and stand up for the rule of law with the honour and dignity of a real lawyer, regardless of the current difficulties and the difficulties that are to come. Know the law, believe in the law. […] Please remember that law is the art of kindness and justice. And kindness, reason and human dignity together always win.”

She also honoured former faculty staff members and lawyers that have “shown by their example who a lawyer was and what law was”, including former professors Alena Basalay and Alena Layeuskaya, sacked for their views, and lawyer Maksim Znak, who was arrested in September 2020 under charges of “conspiracy to seize power” and “creation of an extremist group.”

According to Katsyaryna Vinnikava’s friends, on 30 June, she was summoned to the Leninsky District Department of Internal Affairs in Minsk, interrogated for seven hours, and detained the following morning. She was not allowed access to her lawyer. Katsyaryna Vinnikava was charged with “holding an unauthorized rally” (Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences). On 1 July, the dormitory room where she lives was searched, and her laptop was confiscated.






https://www.amnesty.nl/actueel/belarus-rechtenstudente-de-cel-in-wegens-afstudeerspeech (NEDERLANDS)

Nicaragua: Jailed Opposition Leaders Denied Legal Representation


Lawyers chosen by relatives of those in jail are “annulled” by the courts and are now being threatened and told to abandon these cases.

The 21 hostages imprisoned by the Ortega-Murillo government over the last few weeks have been stripped of their Constitutional protections, as well as their freedom. Since being imprisoned, their rights and guarantees are ignored, and the police won’t allow them to meet with their lawyers and relatives.

In addition, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has demanded 90 days of detention, supposedly for purposes of conducting an investigation. The Court rejected all the legal appeals that were filed and has assigned them public defenders. All of this leaves the victims completely defenseless.

The lack of guarantees and the due process violations “have been generalized” over the last three years, states Attorney Gonzalo Carrion of the Nicaragua Nunca+ [Never again] Human Rights Collective. But it’s more notorious now, because it’s happening in 100% of the cases.

The lawyers chosen by the prisoners’ relatives “were annulled” by the Court “only one, as an exception, had a very short interview with their client. That’s not a defense,” Carrion emphasized.


Lawyers receive threats

Even though the efforts of the detainees’ lawyers have been fruitless, in the last few weeks they’ve begun receiving threats via their cellphones. This has caused some to abandon these cases, while others have stopped offering declarations to the media. This situation was denounced by relatives of the detained.

A source close to Jose Adan Aguerri explained that the lawyer in charge of his case told them he’d decided to drop it, “due to threats I’ve had”.  “We spent two days without a lawyer,” the source stated. During that time, the family had to knock on a number of doors to obtain a defense attorney for their relative. Aguerri is the former president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep).

Ana Lucia Alvarez, who is Ana Margarita Vijil’s niece, and Tamara Davila’s sister, confirmed that finding a legal defense for the imprisoned opposition members has been, “a completely complex matter in itself”. In addition to the lawyers not being allowed to meet with their clients, they’re “being targeted.”

The threats to the attorneys coincide with the broadcast of an official program where the announcer read off a list of lawyers that defend political prisoners. He then declared that they’re “paid by Cosep”, an organization he classified as a “foreign agent”.

















https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2021/06/22/nicaragua-repression-contre-les-opposants-lapproche-de-lelection-presidentielle (FRANCAIS)


https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-57606688 (PORTUGUES)