Since the illegal invasion of Ukraine began, the solicitor profession has stood in solidarity with the country and its people. We brought together over 100 displaced Ukrainian lawyers and 24 major employers to create networking, employment and training opportunities.
Over 170 guests attended the job fair on 26 September, which aimed to support Ukrainian lawyers who have moved to the UK following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.
Over 20 major employers, including Shell, Deutsche Bank, Dentons and LexisNexis, had the opportunity to promote a diverse range of roles and initiatives to more than 100 Ukrainian lawyers and collect applications for vacancies.
UK organisations also provided practical advice and guidance, helping lawyers to understand their options for employment and training.
“Today is an example of solidarity in action,” said chief executive of the Law Society, Ian Jeffrey.
“We have brought together law firms, in-house legal teams, legal service providers, recruitment agencies, training providers and English language schools that Ukrainian lawyers will be able to meet with.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, gave a powerful speech condemning Russia’s illegal invasion of his homeland.
He also highlighted the critical role of initiatives that address local problems experienced by Ukrainian refugees, including the search for employment and housing.
Survivors blow the lid off a secret prison operated by the DGFI, Bangladesh’s notorious military intelligence agency.
On May 29th 2016, Shekh Mohammad Salim was waiting at an auto repair shop in Kapashia, Gazipur, as technicians were renovating a bus owned by his family. This was something he took a great interest in coming from a family in the transportation business.
His undivided attention was soon disrupted by a microbus’ sudden arrival. A group of four to five men got out, with one of them holding a strange-looking device with a monitor. The cell phone in Salim’s pocket began to vibrate, indicating an incoming call. He reached into his pocket to pull out his phone, and the men nearby knew they had found their target.
“Are you Shekh Mohammad Salim?” asked one of them.
Not knowing any better, he nodded positively. The men then grabbed his hands and forced him into the microbus, with his hands cuffed behind his back and eyes covered with a blindfold.
Salim had no idea who his captors were, let alone why he was being picked up. But soon, he would be an inmate of an illegal secret prison, known as Aynaghar (House of Mirrors), run by the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), Bangladesh’s notorious military intelligence agency.
For the first time, two former inmates — including a former military officer — have come forward publicly to describe the features of this secret prison. In addition, two current military officers not only confirmed the prison’s existence but also provided Netra News with photographs of the tiny, cramped cells inside it. We have also obtained satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies to corroborate and even pinpoint the location of the facility.
Since 2009, as the Bangladesh Awami League returned to power, enforced disappearances have become a brutally effective weapon in the government’s arsenal of repression. According to a tally maintained by the rights group Odhikar, at least 605 individuals became victims of enforced disappearance in Bangladesh between 2009 and September 2021. The list includes terrorism suspects, alleged criminals, political opponents, critics of the ruling party as well as ordinary people like Salim. Human Rights Watch has published a list of 86 men whom they claim have been picked up over a ten-year period, and whose whereabouts remain unknown, and are suspected of still being in secret state detention or killed.
Our investigation into Aynaghar suggests that this particular facility is principally used to incarcerate “high-value detainees”. However, Salim was no “high value” captive — but rather an intriguing case of mistaken identity.
The list of names of former and current detainees of Aynaghar that was provided to us includes Mubashar Hasan, formerly a professor with North South University, whose disappearance was reported by The Wire, an Indian news website, to have been orchestrated by the DGFI. Former ambassador Maruf Zaman, himself a former military officer, and businessman Aniruddha Kumar Roy were also detained in Aynaghar.
Current detainees include two men picked up by law enforcement authorities in August 2016. Mir Ahmed Bin Quasem, the son of Mir Quasem Ali, the Jamaat-e-Islami leader who had been sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal, and Abdullahil Amaan Azmi, a former military general and the son of Ghulam Azam, former Jamaat-e-Islami chief who had been sentenced to life by the same court.
Two officers who saw these two men in Aynaghar confirmed the sighting to Netra News. On one occasion, Hasinur Rahman, too, saw Azmi at one of the toilets at Aynaghar, due to confusion among the guards who were in charge of taking the detainees for scheduled toilet visits. Hasinur also subsequently confirmed Azmi’s status as an inmate of Aynaghar through one of the civilian guards he cultivated inside the prison.
“Liton of Badda”
While Hasinur, as a former military officer, was treated with respect compared to other inmates, Salim was not. He would often be beaten and tortured.
One year since the Taliban captured power in Afghanistan, conditions for human rights defenders, especially women, have further deteriorated, the undersigned members of Protect Defenders.eu – said today. A year ago, when the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, they promised to respect human rights – including the rights of women and girls and media freedom. However, over the past year, they have carried out serious human rights violations and abuses, and sought to suppress civil society, media freedom, and any form of dissent with complete impunity.
Since 15 August 2021, we have witnessed the steady erosion of human rights gains in Afghanistan and attacks, reprisals, and a failure of any effective protection for human rights defenders in the country. Women and girls, religious and ethnic minorities, those speaking out against violations and for the protection of the rights of the most vulnerable, have been deliberately targeted. This is a pattern of violence that has been met with insufficient action from the international community. Human rights defenders who continue to work for their communities have been effectively abandoned and left without adequate support, access to resources, protection, and pathways to safety.
Human rights defenders have faced near-daily attacks and violent reprisals including arrest, torture, threats and killings since the Taliban takeover. Escalating violence in the provinces has forced a large number of defenders to leave their homes and relocate and/or resettle. Human rights defenders, in particular women human rights defenders have been facing multiple risks and threats by the Taliban, including: kidnapping; arbitrary arrest and imprisonment; torture; physical and psychological harm; house searches; death and physical threats; intimidation and harassment; and violence against their family members. Women human rights defenders have also faced systematic oppression and segregation from public life. They have been stripped of their rights to work, freedom of movement, access to education, and to participate in public affairs. For those seeking to leave Afghanistan due to severe risk, safe and dignified pathways out of the country remain extremely difficult and challenging.
There has also been serious curtailment of freedom of expression and assembly. These freedoms are no longer legally and institutionally protected, and any form of dissent is met with arbitrary arrests and detention and enforced disappearance. Enforced disappearances of women, and arbitrary arrest of journalists and civil society activists are tactics adopted by the Taliban to silence voices that speak out.
A retrospective of the destruction of a profession: 15 August 2021 – 15 August 2022
The precipitous fall of Kabul to the Taliban on 15 August 2021 and the re-establishment of the Taliban government put an end to 20 years of social development and rule of law building, thus leading to the flight of thousands of people from Afghanistan, including many lawyers, judges and prosecutors. On the first anniversary of the fall of Kabul, the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger (OIAD for its French acronym) is launching a support and advocacy campaign to show its commitment to continue backing an independent bar association in Afghanistan and our Afghan colleagues whether they are in Afghanistan or in exile.
The Observatory invites you to consult its leaflet on the situation of lawyers in Afghanistan, available in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Dari. Do not miss the video testimonies of Afghan lawyers: Hakima Alizada, Rohullah Qarizada and other colleagues who do not wish to reveal their identity for security reasons.
Nous avons pris connaissance du communiqué de presse publié par Monsieur Louis ALIOT, maire de Perpignan, le 28 juillet dernier intitulé “L’influenceur NASDAS prend comme avocat un défenseur de DAESH”.
Nous condamnons avec la plus grande fermeté cette communication émanant d’un élu local, de surcroît ancien avocat, qui tente délibérément d’attenter à l’honneur et la considération de notre confrère Ilyacine MAALLAOUI.
Nous dénonçons cette publication qui porte une atteinte directe à l’indépendance de l’avocat et au libre choix par toute personne de son défenseur.
Toute assimilation de l’avocat à l’infraction reprochée et au justiciable qu’il défend doit être combattue avec force en ce qu’elle remet en cause le droit fondamental à un procès équitable dont bénéficie toute personne, en toute matière.
Nous apportons notre entier soutien à notre confrère et avons une pensée particulière pour toutes les victimes des attentats du 13 novembre également instrumentalisées par cette publication.
Le Barreau de Paris tient à exprimer son entière solidarité aux barreaux d’Haïti et à la Fédération des Barreaux d’Haïti à la suite des évènements particulièrement dramatiques qui sont survenus le 10 juin dernier avec la prise de contrôle de la plus grande juridiction du pays par des hommes lourdement armés.
Les magistrats, avocats, justiciables, policiers, qui étaient au Tribunal lors de l’attaque ont heureusement pu fuir précipitamment. Deux semaines plus tard, le tribunal reste aux mains des gangs. Une situation terrible mais qui était annoncée depuis longtemps. En effet, la situation d’insécurité au Tribunal a été constamment dénoncée par les professions juridiques et judiciaires ainsi que par les associations de défense des droits humains. La dégradation de la sécurité était arrivée à un tel seuil de gravité, que le 11 mars 2022, le Barreau de Port-au-Prince avait adopté une résolution demandant aux avocats de ne plus se rendre dans les locaux du Tribunal de Première instance au Bicentenaire, en raison de menaces graves pour leur vie. Cette résolution appelait également à une relocalisation urgente du Tribunal.
Le barreau de Paris réitère son plus chaleureux soutien à ses confrères haïtiens et appelle les autorités haïtiennes à tout mettre en œuvre pour que le Tribunal soit provisoirement déplacé afin que les professionnels de justice puissent exercer leur mission dans les meilleures conditions de sécurité possibles en Haïti.
Algerian authorities are moving to silence lawyers defending the activists of the popular Hirak movement. This comes after the government managed to contain a wave of protests, which had succeeded in forcing late President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign.
The National Committee for the Release of Detainees revealed the temporary detention of lawyer Yassin Khleifi, bringing the number of defence lawyers currently arrested in Algeria to three.
Khleifi is one of the legal representatives of political activist Rachid Nekkaz. A directive was issued to place him in provisional detention by the investigative judge in the Chlef Court, who had heard him on Tuesday and hit him with undisclosed charges.
Khleifi had published video-recorded statements a few days ago on his client’s Facebook page, in which he talked about two deaths in Chlef prison, noting that he would file a lawsuit to the Chlef Court to investigate the matter.
Nekkaz, a prominent businessman and political opposition activist, is in prison, together with his lawyer Abdelkader Chohra, on charges of “inciting an unauthorised demonstration and undermining public order.”
In May 2021, the Tebessa Court Prosecutor ordered the imprisonment of lawyer Abdelraouf Arslan, who is known for his defence of activists from the popular Hirak movement, which began in 2019 in reaction to Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth prediential term.
Maitre Yacine Khelifi, avocat de Rachid Nekkaz, maître Abdelkader Chohra et Hamza Djabri, les trois ayant été placé en détention provisoire le 15 mai dernier, a été interpellé, dans la soirée du lundi 30 mai à Alger, a indiqué le Comité national pour la libération des détenus (CNLD).
Selon la même source, celui-ci a été transféré vers Chlef, pour être présenté devant le procureur de la république. Les raisons de son arrestation ne sont pas encore connues.
A noter, par ailleurs, que le verdict dans le procès du journaliste Ihsane El Kadi, directeur de Radio M et Maghreb Emergent, est renvoyé au 7 Juin prochain, alors qu’il devrait être prononcé aujourd’hui mardi 31 Mai. Le parquet avait requis, lors de son procès qui s’est tenu le 17 Mai dernier, trois ans de prison ferme, son exclusion de l’activité professionnelle et la suspension des médias qu’il dirige pour une durée de 5 ans.
The webinar titled ‘The Russian invasion of Ukraine: How can the legal profession provide support to Ukraine?’ took place on 6 April 2022 and was expertly moderated by Joanna Weller of LexisNexis, who is also the Co-Chair of the IBA Rule of Law Forum.
The IBA Law Firm Management Committee spearheaded the creation of this webinar as part two of the Russian invasion of Ukraine series and the recording is available here. Part one can be viewed here.
Wayne Jordash QC, Managing Partner at Global Rights Compliance, said that in the future, there will be a need for people who can provide on-the-ground support. ‘People who know their way around the battlefield and search for the ugly truth whenever possible will be needed.’ It will be essential for them to study the local laws. He warned audience members not to go at this alone, but to coordinate with local agencies. ‘You don’t want multiple people interviewing multiple witnesses,’ said Jordash. He stressed that this was not a short-term project and that the international community will need to focus on this for the long term.
‘Even in war, international law has its own rules, but not for Russia. They have even managed to create new kinds of crimes,’ said Anna Ogrenchuk, President of the Ukrainian Bar Association, based in Kyiv. She pointed out, ‘this is one of the challenges we as international lawyers have to face.’ Ogrenchuk remarked how grateful her group was for the support of the various bar associations and lawyers worldwide. However, she pointed out the difficulty and intricacies that will still need to be sorted out from a legal standpoint.
Wendy Betts is Director of eyeWitness to Atrocities, an initiative of the IBA. The organisation works with human rights defenders worldwide and has been working in Ukraine since 2017. Their efforts have been made possible through advances in technology, particularly cell phone usage, to record crimes and related volatile situations. As footage and metadata of this type needs to be verified in order to be used for legal purposes, they have developed an app that helps create footage that cannot be edited or deleted, keeping the integrity of the data and saving it in a closed system. The validity is closely maintained through a chain of custody backed by technology donated by LexisNexis.
Jörg Menzer of Noerr leads the firm’s Bucharest office and is Chair of the IBA Section on Public and Professional Interest (SPPI). He asked the group specifically what could be done by private practice lawyers and what they should consider as the next steps.
Ukrainian National Bar Association President Lidiya Izovitova took part in an online meeting of the CCBE Standing Committee in Brussels. The event was joined by European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders.
The speech of the UNBA/BCU President was devoted to the situation in Ukraine and the peculiarities of the bar operating under martial law.
“Internal consolidation, reliable support from advocates’ self-government, which we try to provide to every advocate, as well as maintaining public trust in the Bar are extremely important for the Ukrainian legal profession at this time. The issue of human rights is currently one of the most pressing issues on the agenda for our entire country, for thousands of our citizens. The role of advocates in ensuring the entirety of human rights, the role in protecting human rights cannot be exaggerated,” said Lydia Izovitova.
“It is a great responsibility for our entire community to ensure that the parameters of the rule of law in our country do not deteriorate,” said the UNBA President.
Currently, the justice system in Ukraine operates under wartime rules.
“We are entrusted with the constitutional function of protecting the rights of citizens, and the right to protection, according to the Constitution of Ukraine, is not subject to restrictions even during martial law. We understand this responsibility to all citizens of Ukraine, and we understand the responsibility to the entire professional community of advocates, “said Lidiya Izovitova. At the same time, advocates do not refuse to provide free legal aid via Free Legal Aid system, in which the payment of fees began to be delayed due to the status of unprotected budget expenditures.
The UNBA President stressed that the self-governing organization of the bar should work continuously and effectively during martial law.
“The great resources of our organization – financial, organizational, human, logistical – are now used to help citizens, lawyers and their families. For the sake of transparency of this process, we have created the UNBA Board of Trustees of, which collectively decides on the provision of charitable assistance from the account of the UNBA Charitable Foundation. At this time, we feel the great support of our international partners. We are extremely grateful to all those who supported Ukrainian advocates during this difficult time, “said the UNBA/BCU President to representatives of European lawyers and leaders of the CCBE.
UNBA offices representative offices abroad are involved in providing assistance to all victims of hostilities, providing legal assistance to Ukrainians who are now forced to leave Ukraine free of charge.
Together with the Chairs of the Bar Councils of the regions, UNBA supports the western region’s aid chain for advocates and their families traveling from areas under the Russian invasion. Bar Councils of the regions provide free legal aid to displaced persons, the military and volunteers, working pro bono on a round-the-clock basis.