September 13, 2019
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September 13, 2019
August 31, 2019
As Asia Bibi sits free at last in a secret location in Canada, the Pakistani Christian woman who spent years on death row after a false blasphemy charge thinks of those left behind still facing the same ordeal.
Nearly four months after the 54-year-old finally left Pakistan following a miscarriage of justice that caused worldwide outcry, she has the opportunity to rebuild a new life for her and her daughters.
Yet while she is enthusiastically grateful for the international efforts to free her, she says the world should know that Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws have left many others still behind bars.
In her first ever newspaper interview, she told The Sunday Telegraph she had at times fallen into…
August 30, 2019
On 27 August 2019, Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri, known as Lawyer June, went to meet the inquiry officer who was responsible for her case at Chanasongkram Police Station, Bangkok, to hear the Attorney General’s order not to prosecute her on an allegation of concealing evidence. The order was due to the fact that there was no intention to hide any evidence since she only complied to the recommendation from military court officers to keep the belongings of the alleged fellow activists by her side. Furthermore, the police made the request to search her car during the night and without providing any reasonable legal grounds.
For the other charge of not complying with an official order without reasonable grounds or explanation, the responsible prosecutor issued an order to dismiss the case due to be barred by prescription. As a result, the criminal proceedings against lawyer Ms. Sirikan for two such allegations have been terminated.
Today the representatives from the embassies of Canada, Sweden, Germany, the United States, the European Union, and officials from human rights organizations including Amnesty International (Regional Office) came to observe the proceedings.
Detailed accounts of the final non-prosecution order and the termination of legal proceedings
On 26 July 2019, the office of the Special Prosecutor issued notification document No. 0013.3/1076 to Chanasongkram Police Station giving a final order not to prosecute and to terminate the proceedings against lawyer Sirikan. In summary, the document provided the following details:
August 18, 2019
More than seven years after Raif Badawi was thrown in prison, lawyers and allies of the Saudi blogger are increasingly lobbying foreign governments in an effort to secure his release as Saudi Arabia prepares to host next year’s G-20 meeting.
Irwin Cotler, a human rights lawyer and former federal justice minister who represents the family internationally, says advocates for Badawi have recently been meeting with foreign governments, UN representatives and others to encourage them to call for the release of Badawi, his sister Samar, their former lawyer Waleed Abulkhair and other imprisoned human rights defenders.
Cotler sat down with The Canadian Press to discuss the intensifying effort to free the 35-year-old Badawi, who was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics.
Cotler said it is urgent “to both internationalize and intensify our advocacy” as Saudi Arabia chairs the G-20 ahead of the meeting in Riyadh in November 2020.
That effort appeared to yield results last month when U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence called on Saudi Arabia to free Badawi as well as three other jailed dissidents.
The four dissidents, Pence said, “have stood in defence of religious liberty and the exercise of their faith despite unimaginable pressure, and the American people stand with them.”
August 12, 2019
Next week bar association presidents from Canada and the other G7 nations will jointly urge their countries’ political leaders to legally protect lawyers and the confidentiality of the lawyer-client relationship, as well as to ensure that the emerging use of artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms in legal decision making doesn’t harm human dignity, fundamental rights and access to justice.
Canadian Bar Association president Ray Adlington, and his G7 bar association counterparts, met July 11 and 12 in Paris, where they finalized more than a dozen joint recommendations that the group will present to G7 host, French president Emmanuel Macron, Aug. 23, just before the resolutions are delivered to all the G7 political leaders at their summit in Biarritz, France Aug. 24-25.
Adlington, who has spent his year as CBA president promoting diversity and inclusivity within the legal profession as well as pressuring governments to preserve and boost legal aid, said the bar groups from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States are trying to drive progress in many areas of mutual concern.
“We were focused on everything from equality to the death penalty,” he explained. “Many of [the issues] are common — from the issues around equality leading to populism issues in many of our G7 countries, and I don’t think that we in Canada are immune from that; to issues around the role that artificial intelligence and technologies will play in access to justice; legal aid … is [another] common issue across our countries … ; protection of the environment; strengthening responsible business conduct; [and] preserving the rule of law and the right to a fair trial.”
One of the bar groups’ resolutions asks G7 political leaders to demand, and work for, the immediate release and unconditional formal pardon of internationally renowned Iranian human rights advocate Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was sentenced last March and faces decades in prison and 148 lashes “for carrying out her professional duties as a lawyer and her work to defend fundamental rights, especially women’s rights.”
Under the rubric of preserving the rule of law and the right to a fair trial, the bar leaders are urging the G7 countries to enshrine “protection of lawyers in the performance of their duties.”
Preparations are now well underway for the Day of the Endangered Lawyer (DOTEL) on Pakistan for January 24, 2020. At a preparatory meeting about 16 to 20 participants representing the Foundation of the Endangered Lawyers Day, AED, International Association of Peoples Lawyers, ELDH, CCBE, CBE, Institut des Droit de l’Homme, several Bar Associations, Avocats sans frontiers, Law Society, CNB have decided to dedicate the Day of the Endangered Lawyer to the solidarity with endangered lawyers in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, since our Brussels meeting our Pakistani colleagues continue to face chronic danger and a risk of serious harm. They continue to be subjected to acts of violence, and very recently a lawyer was seriously assaulted by a judge during a trial, which led to a local strike („Black Day“) of lawyers lasting at least a week: https://defendlawyers.wordpress.com/2019/07/10/pakistan-day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-lawyers-strike-continues-for-sixth-consecutive-day/ At the national level there have been a number of strikes by lawyers, especially in solidarity with two judges who have been under attack by Pakistan President Arif Alvi. The latest national strike organized by the Pakistan Bar Council was held on July 13th: https://defendlawyers.wordpress.com/2019/07/10/pakistan-day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-pbc-gives-call-for-countrywide-strike-on-july-13/ Invidual lawyers, like high-profile lawyer Saif-ul-Malook who represented Asia Bibi (the famous woman who was on death row for blasphemy), continue to face a high risk of death or physical harm: https://defendlawyers.wordpress.com/2019/06/23/pakistan-day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-the-pakistani-lawyer-putting-his-life-on-the-line/.
Lawyers‘ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) reports that they will invite the Canadian Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg to host and finance an event on January 24th and to bring one or two lawyers from Pakistan. LRWC has started a paper on Pakistan focused on two needs: to effectively prevent and punish the murder of lawyers through protective measure and proper investigations, prosecutions and trials and second to develop pan Pakistan education to promote religious diversity and tolerance. They will also invite the Law Society of Ontario to hold an event. As well, at the beginning of July the G7 Bars Meeting was held in France, with representatives of the Bars of France, Canada, Germany, USA, Japan, England & Wales and Italy, representing 1.8 million lawyers. They adopted 20 proposals to G7 governments, including one: „Commit to support actions marking the Day of the Endangered Lawyer and to encourage other countries to do likewise.“ The New Zealand Law Society has the honour of publishing the first article about DOTEL 2020, which they did in mid-July: https://defendlawyers.wordpress.com/2019/07/18/pakistan-new-zealand-pakistan-the-focus-of-2020-day-of-endangered-lawyer/
July 17, 2019
From 1964 to 1990, Texaco (later absorbed by Chevron) dumped 16 billion gallons of toxic waste in Ecuador’s Amazon. The CIA played a key role in bringing to power the dictatorship that first allowed Texaco to work in Ecuador. Philip Agee, the great whistleblower of that era, described CIA tactics in Ecuador in his 1975 book Inside the Company: CIA Diary.
In 1993, US lawyer Steven Donziger filed a lawsuit against Texaco in New York on behalf of the Ecuadorian victims of the dumped toxic waste. These were thousands of very poor people who lived in the affected area. The oil giant spent nine years fighting to have the case moved back to Ecuador. In 2002, Chevron prevailed. US courts ruled that the case belonged in Ecuador. But the battle soon took an unexpected turn.
Under the government of Rafael Correa, who was first elected in 2006, Ecuador’s judiciary changed. It was no longer one that would easily defer to wishes of a huge US-based company. Chevron was found guilty in a provincial court. The case held up on appeals all the way to Ecuador’s Supreme Court in 2013. The victims were awarded $9bn in damages. Chevron’s revenues have ranged from $100bn to $200bn per year depending on oil prices.
Chevron ran back to US courts to attack Donziger. A New York judge, Lewis A Kaplan, brushed aside Chevron’s promise to abide by Ecuadorian jurisdiction. He ruled that the lower court victory in Ecuador was won by Donziger using corrupt means. What about the appeals in Ecuador’s higher courts? Kaplan simply declared that Ecuador’s judiciary could not handle a case like this fairly. Did Kaplan say the company had not contaminated the Amazon? No. He simply said it was irrelevant to Chevron’s allegations against Donziger. Why didn’t a jury rule on this case? Chevron manoeuvred around facing a jury by not seeking monetary damages from Donziger.