Tag Archives: Canada

Canada: Man charged with arson of prominent Montreal lawyer’s office

07/10/21

The building at 500 Place d'Armes, the day after the fire on Nov. 6, 2020. PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

On Wednesday, a parolee was charged with arson for setting a fire at the offices of Montreal law firm Danièle Roy & Associés. The firm represented defendants of several high-profile cases in recent years.

Khodr Kanaan, a 32-year-old resident of Longueuil, faces three counts relating to a fire started last year at the law firm’s offices at 500 Place d’Armes, housed in a tower accommodating several of Quebec’s most prominent criminal lawyers.

The fire on Nov. 6, 2020, did little damage, as reported by La Presse at the time. But the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal’s arson department took the matter seriously in case it was an attempt to intimidate someone associated with the justice system.

A security camera captured images showing two suspects walking around the building that day. One of them wore slip-on shoes distributed to prison inmates.

At the time of the crime, Kanaan was on parole, after serving part of his 11-year prison sentence for a violent home robbery on a farm in Waterville, in the Eastern Townships.

The indictment filed in court does not specify if the accused was targeting a particular lawyer within the office. The investigation is ongoing.

[…]

Élizabeth Ménard, president of the Association of Montreal-Laval-Longueuil defence lawyers, said any attempt to attack a lawyer should be taken seriously.

“This is unacceptable. In a case like this, you are not attacking just one person, but the entire justice system,” she said.

https://www.therecord.com/ts/news/canada/2021/10/07/man-charged-with-arson-of-prominent-montreal-lawyers-office.html

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/10/07/man-charged-with-arson-of-prominent-montreal-lawyers-office.html

https://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/justice-et-faits-divers/2021-10-07/un-homme-accuse-d-un-incendie-criminel-au-bureau-d-une-avocate-de-renom.php (FRANCAIS)

Canada: Within days, this Afghan lawyer went from helping refugees, to becoming one himself

07/10/21

After fleeing to Canada, Saeeq Shajjan regrets that he can’t help those left behind

After years at the head of one of Afghanistan’s most successful law firms, Saeeq Shajjan went from helping others to being in desperate need himself when the Taliban captured Kabul.

“On Saturday, which was August 14, we were doing a charity drive for refugees that had recently come from other provinces to Kabul city. We donated some money, we donated some food and clothes,” Shajjan told The Current’s Matt Galloway.

“Same week — later, around Wednesday, Thursday — we were refugees ourselves.” 

Shajjan and his family left Kabul on Aug. 17, two days after it fell to the Taliban. They first flew to Qatar, with little money or clothing, and relied on donations, he said. 

The family then came to Toronto under the federal government’s resettlement program (Shajjan’s law firm has provided the Canadian embassy with legal services since 2013). They have been living in hotel accommodation since early September, trying to keep their three children — aged 13, 11 and 9 — active and occupied in the hotel’s pool and squash court.

“It was a bittersweet moment because you feel good that you are out, but then at the same time, you’re feeling for so many others who are left behind,” he said.

Shajjan studied law at Harvard in 2010, before he returned to Afghanistan to build his practice, a process that took “years of hard work, day and night, seven days a week,” he said.

The firm provided legal services to companies operating in the country. He’s helped to secure funding for young Afghans to train as lawyers abroad, in the hopes that they too would return to help build a stronger Afghanistan.

“It was a very good life. There was nothing that I could ask for more. And all of a sudden, we have lost everything,” he said.

That sudden shift has been a difficult transition, in particular because he feels many people left behind in Afghanistan are still looking to him for help.

[…]

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-oct-7-2021-1.6202988/within-days-this-afghan-lawyer-went-from-helping-refugees-to-becoming-one-himself-1.6203524

https://www.irishlegal.com/articles/irish-lawyers-asked-to-help-find-accommodation-for-afghanistans-women-judges-and-lawyers

https://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-offers-no-new-pledges-to-take-in-afghan-refugees-11633624363

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/afghan-asylum-deportation-guidance-afghanistan-home-office-b1933921.html

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-nahira-survive-escape-afghanistan

Canada: LSO should speak out on behalf of Hong Kong lawyers: Bencher Chi-Kun Shi

06/10/21

LSO should speak out on behalf of Hong Kong lawyers: Bencher Chi-Kun Shi

The profession should be inspired by the heroism of these lawyers and honour them, Shi says

With the Law Society of Ontario’s commitment to monitor human rights violations that targeting members of the legal profession, bencher and trial lawyer Chi-Kun Shi wants the LSO to act on behalf of Hong Kong lawyers who uphold and defend the rule of law but face human rights violations in China.

 The LSO often writes letters to foreign governments opining on the rule of law and human rights, and Shi says that intervening for Hong Kong lawyers and paralegals in China honours their courage and sends a signal that they are supported and remembered.

 The LSO wrote a letter to President Xi Jinping and Chief Executive Carrie Lam in May 2021 condemning the human rights violations of legal professionals and unjust sentencing of lawyers Dr. Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, Martin Lee Chu-ming and Albert Ho Chun-yan for participating in “unauthorized protests” in April 2020.

The letter urged the president to comply with China’s international human rights laws, including the United Nation’s universal declaration of human rights.

 “The recent convictions and unjust sentencing of lawyers and pro-democracy advocates lawyers Dr. Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, Martin Lee Chu-ming and Albert Ho Chun-yan underscore the continuing assault on freedom of expression and right to assembly in Hong Kong. Arresting and charging lawyers and other human rights defenders who have engaged in peaceful assembly and advocacy creates a dangerous standard for all those who work to promote and defend human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong.”

 The LSO asked for the immediate and unconditional release of Ngoi-yee, Chu-ming and Chun-yan, the dismissal of their convictions and assurance that all lawyers, paralegals and human rights defenders can carry out their professional duties without fear of reprisals and physical violence.

Shi says she hopes the LSO will act within its power, “walk the talk,” and grant honorary LSO membership to Ngoi-yee, Chu-ming and Chun-yan. She intended to bring forward the motion for honorary membership on October 1 convocation but says she withdrew the motion to rework it. 

“Instead of singling out three people who has illuminated the legal profession, I would like to include all the unsung heroes, lawyers and paralegals in Hong Kong who have stepped up in face of tyranny to defend our shared value of rule of law,” she says.

For example, “the young lawyers who jumped into taxis to follow paddy wagons to police station to represent the demonstrators arrested. They would want to be remembered.”

[…]

https://www.lawtimesnews.com/resources/professional-regulation/lso-should-speak-out-on-behalf-of-hong-kong-lawyers-bencher-chi-kun-shi/360507

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/group-09212021150247.html

CCBE Statement on the situation in Afghanistan and the need to guarantee the fundamental rights of all persons requesting international protection at EU borders

23/09/21

Welcome to CCBE - CCBE

The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) represents the bars and law societies of 45 countries, and through them more than 1 million European lawyers.

The defence of the rule of law, the protection of the fundamental and human rights and freedoms, including the right of access to justice and protection of the client, and the protection of the democratic values inextricably associated with such rights are one of the main missions of the CCBE. Through the work of its Migration Committee, the CCBE monitors European and national developments on migration issues and focuses its work on the protection of migrants’ and asylum seekers’ fundamental rights, including the right to legal assistance.

With regard to the alarming situation in Afghanistan and the fate of all Afghans – particularly women, those working in the justice sector, and human rights defenders – the CCBE wishes to reaffirm its commitment to the right to asylum, as well as the right for Afghans to leave their country, and travel to another country safely which notably underpins the need to ensure fair proceedings at EU borders. The CCBE therefore calls on the EU authorities and its Member States to take all the necessary measures to enable the evacuation and reception of the people most at risk in Afghanistan, including lawyers. Furthermore, it urges the relevant authorities to guarantee refugees’ access to the right to asylum. In this regard, the CCBE recalls that the right to apply for international protection in the European Union and at its frontiers is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 18 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and by European Union law through its asylum acquis.

In addition to this, the CCBE wishes to express its serious concern about the lack of respect for procedural safeguards and access to a lawyer in asylum and migration procedures at EU borders, notably with regard to the current situation at the Belarusian border with Latvia and Poland where it has been reported that a group of 32 migrants, including Afghans were being kept without any possibility to ask for asylum, in clear violation of their fundamental rights, including their right to legal assistance and their right to apply for asylum.

[…]

Click to access EN_MIG_20210923_CCBE-Statement-on-the-situation-in-Afghanistan-and-the-need-to-guarantee-the-fundamental-rights-of-all-persons-requesting-international-protection-at-EU-borders.pdf

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/09/23/afghanistan-taliban-abuses-cause-widespread-fear

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/09/16/simple-measures-can-help-canada-bring-afghans-to-safety-sooner.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/21/qc-baroness-helena-kennedy-calls-on-uk-to-support-female-judges-at-risk-in-afghanistan

https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2021/09/23/afghanistan-les-exactions-des-talibans-suscitent-une-peur-croissante (FRANCAIS)

May be an image of 3 people and text that says "McGill McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism Centre sur es droits personne eplurasme undiquee de McGill THE SITUATION OF HAZARAS IN AFGHANISTAN Discrimination, Persecution, Genocide Moderated by Frédéric Mégret Zoom link https:/mgilom.us/8902912009 Gregory Stanton Founder of Genocide Watch Derakhshan Qurban-Ali External Relations Manager Canadian Hazara HumanitarianServices Halima Bahman Survivor of the 1998 massacre Mazar -Sharif, cofounder of the Hazara Women Organization Stuart Russell Former Australian judge who oversaw many Hazara refugee hearings following the 1998 massacre SEPTEMBER 27 1:00PM-2:30PM ET ZOOM EVENT:"

Canada: Legal community shocked, grieved by colleague’s stabbing death, reviewing its security measures

10/09/21

The Lawyer's Daily

A fatal stabbing at a Toronto law firm has lawyers revisiting their security measures this week, amid the legal community’s outpouring of grief and support for the family of a co-worker attacked on the job.

Julia Ferguson, 29, a receptionist at Hicks Adams LLP, a Toronto criminal law boutique, was at work Sept. 2 when she was assaulted by a man with a knife, who fled afterward. Grievously wounded, she underwent heart surgery, but died three days later when doctors informed her family that she had suffered brain death due to a deprivation of oxygen after the attack.

Sadness abounded within the defence counsel and wider legal community for the loss of the person described as a “beautiful and kind soul” in a GoFundMe campaign set up to support her family that raised more than $75,000 in three days. She leaves behind her mother Lynn, her brother Chris Ferguson, her boyfriend Jesse, as well as other family and friends.

[…]

Threats of violence against lawyers, especially Crowns, defence counsel and family law lawyers, are not uncommon in Canada. There have also been murders and other serious physical attacks over the years. In 2015 two Quebec jurists, a lawyer and a notary, were fatally shot at work by the lawyer’s ex-client. The next morning in Winnipeg, a family law lawyer was maimed by the explosion of a boobytrapped device sent to her anonymously by a client’s ex-husband.

Courthouse security was also upgraded as a result of a 1982 shooting in a civil case heard in Toronto’s Osgoode Hall which killed a lawyer and his client and left another client paralyzed. Five years earlier a family law lawyer was shot and killed in the hallway of a Toronto courthouse by a former client’s husband during divorce proceedings.

There are known instances of defence counsel being beat up, while prosecutors are also known to face threats with some regularity. Trudell said that criminal lawyers not only do not benefit from the physical security measures protecting Crown counsel in their offices, threats they may experience can also raise issues of solicitor-client privilege for defence counsel.

In 2005, the Ontario Bar Association issued a personal security handbook for lawyers. On behalf of Canadian Bar Association, its new president Stephen Rotstein expressed condolences after Ferguson’s death.

[…]

https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/29697/legal-community-shocked-grieved-by-colleague-s-stabbing-death-reviewing-its-security-measures

Afghanistan: Tajik lawyer threatened, shot in the foot

28/08/21

Internally displaced people in a camp in Kabul after they fled fighting in other parts of Afghanistan. Many ethnic minorities are fearful of what the Taliban rule will mean for them. Photo: Sonia Sarkar
  • Many young Tajik and Hazara Afghans want to leave the country, after the minorities were targeted by the Taliban in the past
  • A Tajik lawyer said he received a written threat, and was attacked by criminals released from jails after the Taliban took over

Kabul-based freelance photojournalist SH, who asked to only use her initials, is one of 10 million ethnic minority Tajiks living in Afghanistan.

Since the Taliban takeover of the country, she said she has been threatened with dire consequences if she steps out of her home. She believes this is both because of her ethnic origin and for being a woman. As a result, she and her family have applied for asylum in both the US and Canada, hoping the video editing training she received from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) two years ago will be her ticket to escape Taliban rule.

“I received threats from the Taliban because I take photographs of women who are victims of war in Afghanistan,” said the 26-year-old single mother, who is the sole breadwinner for her family of seven, which includes her parents and three sisters.

[…]

Lawyer Jan Mohammad Nazari, 30, a Tajik living in Baghlan province, fought legal cases on behalf of the erstwhile Afghan government against criminals allegedly supported by the Taliban. Last week, he was attacked by five men who were recently released from jails after the Taliban took over, he said. Nazari is now recovering from a bullet injury after he was shot in his right foot.

In June, he received a written threat from the Taliban, sent by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Military Commission High Council, which said he will “lose” his life if he does not stop working with the former government’s national directorate of security or national army. A copy of the threat was seen by This Week In Asia.

Nazari is seeking asylum in the US and Canada. In his application to the US, he wrote: “I have my wife, a seven-month-old infant and a five-year-old son and all our lives are in danger … Please save our lives.”

But like Ahmad, he does not have a passport – although his wife does, and he is hoping this will help them. He is also battling to find out which countries are offering asylum.

“There is no information on which country will take us, but it’s true that we cannot live here any more,” Nazari said, adding that travelling to Kabul is also difficult.

[…]

https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3146747/afghanistans-ethnic-minorities-receive-threats-fear-persecution

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/08/27/i-am-afghan-i-am-a-lawyer-i-am-a-woman-and-today-i-speak-out-against-taliban-brutality.html

http://www.gisti.org/spip.php?article6652

https://www.dw.com/en/afghan-refugees-in-greece-still-stuck-in-limbo/a-59000284

https://www.ledevoir.com/societe/627027/afghanistan-nolisez-tous-les-avions-sortez-les-de-la (FRANCAIS)

https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/afghanistan/afghanistan-la-france-discute-avec-les-talibans-pour-permettre-la-poursuite-d-evacuations-ciblees-de-civils-afghans-declare-emmanuel-macron_4751747.html

https://protect-lawyers.org/es/afghanistan-oiad-members-mobilise-to-assist-lawyers-and-civilians-at-risk/ (ESPANOL)

https://protect-lawyers.org/it/i-membri-dell-oiad-si-mobilitano-per-assistere-avvocati-e-civili-a-rischio-in-afghanistan/ (ITALIANO)

Judges, lawyers, human rights defenders seen as under threat in Afghanistan

26/08/21

Judges, lawyers, human rights defenders seen as under threat in Afghanistan

Legal organizations around the world, including bar associations, condemn Taliban takeover

Legal organizations around the world, including bar and judicial associations, are condemning the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the reports of human rights violations that have already taken place there.

The Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association (CSCJA), which represents nearly all of the federally appointed judges in Canada, was one of many associations releasing statements in the past week expressing concern and support for the people of Afghanistan.

“We note with particular concern the media reports about the safety and security of Afghan judges, particularly female judges,” the CSCJA said in its statement. For the past 20 years, it noted, Afghan judges’ focus as an independent judiciary was to render judgments based on the law, respect for human rights, and free of political influence or favour.

“While all judges are now in danger, female judges are particularly at risk because the Taliban has traditionally considered it unacceptable for Afghan women to sit in judgment of men,” the statement read. “Additionally, Afghan women in general now appear more vulnerable because of their apparent inability to move freely within or between cities.”

[…]

https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/news/general/judges-lawyers-human-rights-defenders-seen-as-under-threat-in-afghanistan/359278

https://www.lrwc.org/afghanistan-statement-to-the-un-human-rights-council-seeks-fact-finding-mechanism-joint-statement/

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/afghan-judges-can-relocate-to-the-uk-buckland-confirms/5109608.article

https://www.lawcareers.net/Explore/News/The-Law-Society-comments-on-the-Afghanistan-crisis-26082021

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/europe/european-union-urges-member-states-to-offer-safe-pathways-out-of-afghan-for-at-risk-people.html

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/08/26/attack-kabul-airport-ends-civilian-evacuation

https://www.reuters.com/world/islamic-state-claims-responsibility-kabul-airport-attack-2021-08-26/

https://www.fnuja.com/Communique-sur-la-situation-en-Afghanistan_a2483.html (FRANCAIS)

https://www.liberation.fr/international/asie-pacifique/une-explosion-a-proximite-de-laeroport-de-kaboul-20210826_NUA3TP7MUFH7NJFMKWPEB4P7DQ/

No photo description available.

UK: Help Afghan lawyers escape ‘perilous future’ under Taliban rule, urge legal groups

17/08/21

A group of professional legal bodies have urged the UK government to help lawyers trapped in Afghanistan.

In a joint statement, the Law Society, Bar Council and Bar Human Rights Committee call on the government to offer asylum to female judges and other legal professionals in Afghanistan.

They are “gravely concerned” about the situation in Afghanistan and the fate of all those working in the country’s justice system who now face “a perilous future” under Taliban rule.

“We are extremely worried about the situation of at least 250 women judges in the country who we consider to be at particular risk,” the group said. “We urge the UK government not to abandon these courageous defenders of the rule of law and — in liaison with its international allies — to offer evacuation and safety and asylum in the UK to those women judges, their families, and other members of the legal profession who are in serious danger.”

The International Association of Women Judges yesterday raised concerns about their colleagues in Afghanistan, “given the special role they have played and are still playing, in upholding the rule of law and human rights for all, and the particular dangers they face as a result”. The group fear for their safety due to the nature of their work and the past rulings they have made in criminal, anti-corruption and family courts.

[…]

https://www.cba.org/News-Media/Press-Releases/2021/August/Statement-by-CBA-President-on-the-Situation-in-Afg?lang=en-ca

https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/29051

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/08/afghanistan-dispatches-i-personally-think-law-major-is-no-more-a-field-of-study-for-students-particularly-women/

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-merkel-warns-western-countries-must-offer-aid-to-afghans-fleeing/

https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/103053/afghanistan-joint-statement-international-community-latest-developments_en

https://www.avocatparis.org/afghanistan-le-barreau-de-paris-appelle-levacuation-des-civils-risque-pour-garantir-leur-protection (FRANCAIS)

https://www.cba.org/News-Media/Press-Releases/2021/August/Statement-by-CBA-President-on-the-Situation-in-Afg?lang=fr-ca

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May be an image of 2 people and text that says "MILLIONS OF AFGHAN LIVES ARE AT RISK NOW!"
May be an image of one or more people and text that says "WOMEN'S RIGHTS ARE ' HUMAN RIGHTS STAND UP WITH AFGHAN WOMEN global,voice lobaLyoice Soroptimist International of Europe"
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May be an image of 8 people, headscarf and text that says "fidh INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS TAKE ACTION NEWSLETTER MAKE A DONATION MENU Afghanistan: Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, and Civil Society Members Must Be Protected f OPEN LETTER 16/08/2021 ES FR Afghanistan Human Rights Defenders R Ramesh Shankar The Times of India via AFP"
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G7 bar leaders call upon governments to take action on lawyers at risk, lawtech and climate change

11/06/21

Flags of G7 countries flying against blue sky

Ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall, the presidents of the G7 bars have signed resolutions calling on their governments to tackle issues including climate change, the ethics of legal technology and undue interference with the independence of the legal profession.

Although consensus proved elusive at the G7 bars summit on 17 May, chaired by Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce, one resolution on lawyers at risk gained unanimous approval and a second resolution on guaranteeing continuity of justice in a time of crisis also gained widespread approval.

The presidents and executives of the representative bodies have committed to make efforts to urge governments to:

  • protect the rule of law and access justice
  • uphold the independence of the legal profession
  • condemn any attacks on lawyers carrying out their duties

Alongside resolutions focusing on lawyers at risk and continuity of justice, there was also progress on key areas that will impact the future of the legal profession, most prominently climate change and lawtech.

[…]

What was discussed on 17 May?

We proposed four resolutions, alongside a fifth resolution from the Conseil National des Barreux (CNB), focusing on areas that are key for both promoting the work of lawyers and assisting wider society:

  • lawyers at risk
  • lawtech and ethics
  • climate change
  • economic recovery
  • continuity of justice

These five areas reflect the concerns of the legal profession and wider agenda of the national G7 meeting, with a focus on leading the global recovery from coronavirus, tackling climate change and championing our shared values.

The strongest agreement between the bars was found on the ‘lawyers at risk’ resolution, with all of the seven bars signing the final statement and agreeing to promulgate the resolutions to their governments via the so-called national ‘Sherpas’ (civil servants and diplomats who help guide the leaders of the G7 countries in the leadup to the summit).

[…]

https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/international/g7-bar-leaders-call-on-governments-to-take-action-on-lawyers-at-risk-lawtech-and-climate-change

Iran/Canada: Iranian Professor Jailed After Attending Training Course In Prague

09/02/21

Reza Eslami is a professor at Tehran's Shahid Beheshti University.

A Revolutionary Court in Iran has sentenced a law professor to seven years in prison after convicting him of “cooperating with an enemy state.”

The U.S.-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported on February 8 that Reza Eslami, a professor at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University, had been also banned from teaching and leaving the country.

The sentence, subject to appeal, was issued by Judge Abolghassem Salavati, who presides over Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. Salavati was placed under U.S. sanctions in 2019 for issuing harsh sentences against journalists, activists, and others.

Eslami, a dual Iranian-Canadian national and a graduate of Canada’s McGill University, was arrested in May and charged with “cooperating with an enemy state through his participation in a law training course in the Czech Republic,” HRANA reported.

Eslami reportedly dismissed the charges against him as “baseless” in an audio recording released from prison, where he also said that his academic work was free of “political, security and foreign-relations issues.”

A total of 15 people have reportedly been charged over the case. Of those, 14 have been acquitted of the charge of cooperating with the United States.

People close to the professor have said that the training course was organized by a Czech NGO that receives funds from the United States.

They had said that Eslami, who taught human rights and the rule of law before his arrest, had no contacts with anyone from the U.S. administration.

[…]

https://www.rferl.org/a/iranian-professor-jailed-after-attending-training-course-in-prague/31093818.html

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iran/090220211