Tag Archives: CCBE

Chinese Rights Lawyer Stands Trial After Four Years’ Pretrial Detention

20/10/21

Chinese Rights Lawyer Stands Trial After Four Years' Pretrial Detention

The charges against Li Yuhan are a form of political retaliation for her rights work, a fellow lawyer says.

After four years in detention, human rights lawyer Li Yuhan stood trial in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning on Wednesday for “fraud,” and “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” a charge often used to target peaceful critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Li, 60, who had previously defended high-profile rights attorney Wang Yu amid a nationwide crackdown on rights lawyers, stood trial at the Heping District People’s Court in Shenyang, where an ambulance was parked, amid concerns over Li’s poor health.

Wang, who showed up to support Li with fellow rights lawyer Xie Yang, said police had denied access to diplomats from six countries, who asked to observe the proceedings.

“There were diplomats from six countries including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States, the Netherlands, and Switzerland,” Wang told RFA from the scene. “Some were diplomats from consulates in Shenyang, and some were diplomats from Beijing.”

“They asked to observe, but the court said there were no available seats, so there weren’t allowed in.”

She added: “They are very concerned about this case. I also think that … the abuse of lawyer Li Yuhan has been inhumane.”

Wang said guards had thrown a security cordon some 50 meters from the front gates, and didn’t allow her or Xie Yang to pass.

“We saw a lot of lawyers and litigants from other cases trying to get through to submit materials or meet with a judge, but they weren’t allowed in either,” she said. “Court business was totally suspended.”

“We took a few photos from outside the security cordon, then we got driven away by the security guards, state security police and court police,” she said.

Retaliation

Earlier this year, the European Bar Association wrote to CCP general secretary Xi Jinping, expressing concerns over Li Yuhan’s poor health and situation in detention.

Wang said the charges against Li are retaliatory.

[…]

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/lawyer-trial-10202021132238.html

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/li-yuhan

https://www.wionews.com/world/eu-urges-china-to-free-li-yuhan-and-other-human-rights-activists-351435

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:"

Belarus: Trial of Viasna’s Homieĺ members set for September 3

23/08/21

Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa and Maryia Tarasenka

Human rights defender of Viasna Leanid Sudalenka and volunteer Tatsiana Lasitsa have been detained in remand prison No. 3 in Homieĺ for seven months. They are accused of organizing and financing actions that grossly violated public order (Parts 1 and 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code). Volunteer Maryia Tarasenka, who is free but under travel restrictions, is another defendant in the trial, which is expected to start on September 3 at the Centraĺny District Court of Homieĺ. The criminal charges against the three activists will be heard by judge Siarhei Salouski.

What are the charges?

The key charge Sudalenka is facing is reimbursing the fines imposed on peaceful protesters after the rigged election of August 2020. He and the two Viasna volunteers also helped numerous people find lawyers to defend them in protest-related trials. Among other things, Leanid Sudalenka is accused of purchasing firewood to help a family, whose father was later convicted of “rioting” and appearing in a YouTube video to explain what a people’s protest is.

The human rights activist has been in the pre-trial detention center since January 18. Tatsiana Lasitsa has been in custody since January 21. Maryia Tarasenko was briefly detained, but soon released. The charges against her, however, remained in place.

More than 200 witnesses were interviewed in the case. The case file contains 77 volumes.

Judge Siarhei Salouski is known for being the top-convicting judge in the post-election administrative trials. Salouski ordered a total of over three months in prison.

In 2020, Salouski twice fined journalist Larysa Shchyrakova for reporting for Belsat TV.

Last July, Leanid Sudalenka helped Valery Smiayan, a man fined by Salouski for staging a peaceful protest to support arrested activist Siarhei Tsikhanouski, to submit a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee. It is obvious that the judge is not impartial towards Sudalenka.

Why is the case against Viasna’s activists in Homieĺ politically motivated?

Leanid Sudalenka is a well-known human rights activist, who has been defending human rights for twenty years. He provided free legal assistance, including the preparation of individual complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee to challenge violations by the Belarusian authorities. For his human rights activities, Sudalenka received the French award “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”. In 2019, he was awarded the National Human Rights Prize in the nomination “Human Rights Defender of the Year”.

The Belarusian authorities have regularly persecuted Leanid Sudalenka for his active human rights work. They staged unsuccessful provocations to prosecute him, searched him at the state border, and tried to discredit him through publications in state-controlled media.

[…]

https://spring96.org/en/news/104744

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/europe-central-asia/belarus/belarus-months-after-arbitrary-detention-viasna-s-members-must-be

https://www.omct.org/en/resources/urgent-interventions/belarus-upcoming-trial-of-leanid-sudalenka-tatsiana-lasitsa-and-maria-tarasenka

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/belarus-arbitrary-detention-of-viasna-members-leanid-sudalenka-and-26489

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/leonid-sudalenko

https://www.fidh.org/fr/regions/europe-asie-centrale/belarus/resolution-de-l-onu-sur-le-belarus-valiantsin-stefanovic-viasna-27131 (FRANCAIS)

Belarus tightens grip on lawyers

23/08/21

Belarusian lawyer Mikhail Kirilyuk sits during an interview with Reuters in Warsaw, Poland June 15, 2021. REUTERS/Kuba Stezycki

Belarusian lawyer Mikhail Kirilyuk says he received an unsettling text message in October from an acquaintance linked to the country’s security services.

The acquaintance urged Kirilyuk, who had defended anti-government protesters and publicly criticised President Alexander Lukashenko’s rule, to leave the country. According to Kirilyuk, who said the text was sent via an encrypted messaging app and described its content to Reuters, the message also contained a warning: The attorney faced arrest and revocation of his license to practice law.

Kirilyuk left that month with his parents and young children for Poland, which has long been critical of Lukashenko. In February, the justice ministry revoked Kirilyuk’s license, according to an April Minsk court document relating to his unsuccessful appeal. The ministry said in a February press release that Kirilyuk had made “unacceptable” public statements that contained “rude” and “tactless” comments about state representatives, without identifying them.

Speaking with Reuters from Warsaw, 38-year-old Kirilyuk said he believed the action against him was politically motivated because of who he had represented and his public critical comments. He said he left because he “didn’t want to get arrested” and that he won’t return home until Lukashenko is out of office.

Kirilyuk’s account fits with what more than half a dozen Belarusian lawyers as well as international organizations representing the profession and human-rights groups say is a pattern of intimidation and suppression of attorneys by Belarusian authorities. Those actions include criminal and disciplinary proceedings against lawyers and disbarment, they say.

Seven lawyers interviewed by Reuters say their licenses were removed after defending protesters, speaking out against authorities or resisting what they said was pressure on their profession. Several of them allege that authorities monitored confidential client meetings or obstructed their work. Reuters was unable to independently corroborate their assertions or the text message described by Kirilyuk.

[…]

https://www.nippon.com/en/news/reu20210823KBN2FO0RY/belarus-tightens-grip-on-lawyers.html

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/belarus-tightens-grip-lawyers-2021-08-23/

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/europe-central-asia/belarus/belarus-months-after-arbitrary-detention-viasna-s-members-must-be

Iran: Lawyers, Activists Arrested as they Attempt to Sue State for Failed COVID Response

17/08/21

The unlawful arrests of six prominent lawyers and civil rights activists in Tehran as they were preparing to file a lawsuit against state officials for their gross mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic is an indication of the worsening human rights situation under the newly inaugurated President Ebrahim Raisi and new Judiciary Chief Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei.

“Instead of addressing the skyrocketing numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths amid the lack of safe vaccines, the state focuses on crushing attempts to hold officials responsible for their calamitous pandemic response,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“The Iranian government should be focused on immediately importing as many vaccines as possible,” said Ghaemi. “And the international community should urgently condemn these latest arrests and call on the government to stop trying to muzzle criticism of its policies.”

The arrests took place against a backdrop of the judiciary’s escalating campaign to prevent independent lawyers from seeking justice within the judicial system, which has included dismantling the Iranian Bar Association as well as imprisoning independent lawyers on trumped-up charges.

Arash Keykhosravi (lawyer), Mehdi Mahmoudian (civil activist), Mostafa Nili (lawyer), Leila Heydari (lawyer), Mohammad Reza Faghihi (lawyer), and Maryam Afrafaraz (civil activist) were arrested in Tehran on August 14, 2021, and their phones and other personal belongings were confiscated without a warrant. Heydari was released the following day.

CHRI calls for the immediate release of the lawyers and activists, whose detention is a violation of Article 34 of the Constitution, which states that it is an “indisputable right of every citizen to seek justice by recourse to competent courts. All citizens have right of access to such courts, and no one can be barred from courts to which he has a legal right of recourse.”

[…]

https://iranwire.com/en/features/10167

https://www.iranrights.org/projects/timeline

Click to access EN_HRL_20210809_Iran_Concerns-over-the-detention-and-sentencing-of-lawyers-in-Iran.pdf

Tajikistan: Court rejects cassation appeal for Abdulmajid Rizoev

13/08/21

crop_abdulmajid_rizoev.jpg

On 11 August 2021, the Dushanbe City Court rejected the cassation appeal to review Abdulmajid Rizoev’s case, which the human rights defender’s lawyer applied for on 16 July 2021. On 14 June 2021, human rights defender Abdulmajid Rizoev was sentenced to 5 years and 6 months’ imprisonment for “public calls for performance of an extremist activity made using the mass media or the Internet” under Part 2, Article 307.1 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan. The human rights defender has been detained in centre No.1 in Dushanbe since his arrest on 18 November 2020.

On 14 June 2021, the Shokhmansur District Court of Dushanbe sentenced human rights defender Abdulmajid Rizoev to 5 years and 6 months’ imprisonment for “public calls for performance of an extremist activity made using the mass media or the Internet” under Part 2, Article 307.1 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan.

Human rights defender Abdulmajid Rizoev is currently facing trial on accusations of “public calls for performance of an extremist activity made using the mass media or the Internet” in relation to his work providing legal defense for residents in Dushanbe who have been evicted from their homes due to a new construction project taking place in the city. If convicted, the human rights defender could face up to 5 years’ imprisonment. Abdulmajid Rizoev is currently being held at the detention centre #1 in Dushanbe.

Abdulmajid Rizoev is a human rights defender and a lawyer, and was formerly a member of the Association of Young Lawyers “Amparo”, which was forcibly dissolved in 2012. As part of his human rights work, Abdulmajid Rizoev has been monitoring human rights violations occurring within the Tajikistan military during conscription and military service, and providing legal consultation to conscripts and soldiers, including those who have been subjected to physical and psychological abuse as new recruits in the army. In recent years, he has also been actively involved in defending the rights of residents in Dushanbe whose homes are to be demolished due to new construction projects underway. The defender provides the residents with legal representation, lodges complaints on their behalf and informs them of their rights to compensation and resettlement.

[…]

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/court-rejects-cassation-appeal-abdulmajid-rizoev

Israel/Palestine/France: Arrests of Palestinian rights defenders part of ‘wider crackdown’

11/08/21

The Palestinian Flag in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, expressed concern over arrests, harassment, criminalization and threats targeting these individuals. 

“Arrests and raids on the homes of Palestinian human right defenders form part of a wider crackdown against those defending the human rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” she said

Arrests, forcible transfers 

Ms. Lawlor was alarmed by the arbitrary arrest and detention of Farid Al-Atrash, a human rights defender and lawyer at the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR). 

Mr. Al-Atrash was detained by Israeli military forces after peacefully participating in a demonstration in Bethlehem on 15 June and released on bail eight days later. 

The rights expert also voiced concern over the forcible transfer of Palestinians living in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhoods in Jerusalem. 

“Muna Al-Kurd, Mohammed Al-Kurd and Zuhair Al Rajabi, human rights defenders at the forefront of protecting their communities against forced displacement, have been arrested and interrogated,” she said. 

Another activist, Salah Hammouri, a Palestinian-French human rights defender and lawyer, is also at risk of having his permanent residency permit in Jerusalem revoked. 

[…]

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/08/1097602

https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/israel-must-safeguard-human-rights-defenders-occupied

https://www.friendsofhebron.com/free_farid?recruiter_id=1328 (SIGN THE PETITION!)

https://news.un.org/fr/story/2021/08/1101512 (FRANCAIS)

https://cnpjdpi.org/Salah-Hamouri-Lettre-au-Ministre-de-de-l-Europe-et-des-Affaires-Etrangeres.html

It Is Not Safe To Be A Lawyer In Belarus

09/08/21

BELARUS-POLITICS-ELECTIONS-DEMO

In May 2021, the world was shocked when the Belarusian government hijacked a plane from Athens to Vilnius. The plane was forcibly diverted to Minsk, escorted by a fighter jet and under a threat of being shoot down if it failed to do so. On landing, opposition activist Roman Protasevich and his companion Sofia Sapega were arrested. While the incident gathered international attention, it is only the tip of the iceberg of human rights violations in Belarus following the 2020 presidential election in the country. The crackdown affects all, and even lawyers are not safe from it.

Indeed, in July 2021, the American Bar Association (ABA) Centre for Human Rights, International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and Lawyers for Lawyers, published the findings of their inquiry into the situation of lawyers in Belarus. According to their findings, since the disputed 2020 election in Belarus, which affirmed Alexander Lukashenko for his sixth term in office, the Belarusian government has engaged in a widespread and violent crackdown of its opposition. Peaceful protests around the country have resulted in arrests en masse of journalists, opposition figures, civic activists and human rights defenders (including lawyers).

The authors of the report suggested that Government authorities in Belarus have “engaged in a number of tactics that interfere with the independence of lawyers in contravention of international law and standards.” Indeed, according to one of them, governments are meant to ensure that lawyers neither “suffer [n]or [are] threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic, or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards, and ethics.” This means that they should not be targeted for merely doing their job representing opposition leaders and others arrested for peaceful protests. However, as the report suggests, these are precisely the tactics adopted by the Belarusian government as part of the widespread crackdown against the opposition. Lawyers in Belarus are effectively prevented from “carrying out their professional duties independently.” This has a significant impact on freedoms in Belarus. 

The United Nations has been reporting on this crackdown as well. The U.N. Human Rights Council reported: “According to official sources, between August 9 and November 30, more than 1,000 criminal cases were opened against peaceful protesters, opposition members and supporters, journalists, human rights defenders, lawyers, peaceful protesters and persons critical of the Government. According to reports, criminal charges would be brought against 231 persons who had participated in a march held on November 1.” 

Many Belarusian lawyers, including those engaged in peaceful protects or expressing their concerns about the state of the rule of law in the country, have faced intimidation, harassment, administrative and criminal changes, and disbarment.

[…]

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2021/08/09/it-is-not-safe-to-be-a-lawyer-in-belarus/

Click to access EN_HRL_20210804_Belarus_Bar_Disbarment-of-lawyers-in-Belarus.pdf

Joint statement on the repression against Belarusian lawyers and the disbarment of Dmitriy Laevski

02/08/21

IBAHRI | IAPL Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers

Together with more than 50 lawyers’ organizations, bar associations, civil society organisations and individual lawyers, Lawyers for Lawyers co-signed a joint statement on the mounting repression against Belarusian lawyers and the disbarment of Dmitriy Laevski.

Since peaceful protests in Belarus erupted in 2020, following the presidential election condemned by the international community, the law in Belarus has been turned into a tool of oppression, and lawyers – into victims of political persecution. Lawyers, who express views contrary to those of the government or represent peaceful protestors or opposition leaders in courts, face constant pressure. Repressions against law practitioners take multiple forms – including criminal persecution, administrative arrests, punitive disciplinary proceedings. In a span of ten months, more than twenty Belarusian lawyers, who took an active political and civic stance, have been deprived of the right to practice their profession.

Lawyer Dmitriy Laevski was disbarred by the decision of the Minsk City Bar Association on 9 July 2021. The decision on disbarment was taken by the disciplinary commission of the bar association on 8 July 2021. The decision on expelling Dmitriy Laevski was urgently taken within one day and only two days after a verdict was announced in the high-profile case of one of his clients Viktar Babaryka – ex-presidential candidate, key political opponent of Alexander Lukashenko and now a political prisoner.

On 8 July 2021, Dmitriy Laevski participated in two disciplinary proceedings. The first concerned the judicial appeal to the previously made decision of the disciplinary commission of the Minsk City Bar Association on reprimanding Dmitriy for his Facebook post, commenting about the recent amendments to the Law on Legal Practice. The second one – as a result of which Dmitriy was eventually disbarred – concerned the statement made during Viktar Babaryka’s hearing, which hinted at the innocence of Babaryka’s co-defendants, who pleaded guilty during the trial. It is precisely Dmitriy’s procedural position and the realization of his legal defense mission that became the ground for his disbarment. On 17 July 2021, Laevski appealed the decision of the disciplinary commission and published the full text of his appeal.

Being deprived of his license, Dmitriy Laevski cannot proceed to represent the interests of another high-profile political prisoner and lawyer Maksim Znak, whose trial is about to commence. Due to the disbarment, the defendant in one of the most resonant political cases has been deprived of his main defender.

[…]

Egypt: Global Coalition Calls for Release of Detained Human Rights Lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer

20/07/21

Today, on the occasion of lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer’s 41st birthday, we, the undersigned organizations, urge the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him and strike his name from the ‘’terrorist list.’’

Mohamed El-Baqer is a human rights lawyer and the founder and director of the Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms. He has been arbitrarily detained for more than 21 months without charge or trial, simply for his human rights work. El-Baqer has a long history of defending individuals whose rights have been violated, including civilians tried before military courts, protesters, and members of marginalized communities, including religious and ethnic minorities. The organization he founded focuses on criminal justice, the right to education, and minority rights. 

On 29 September 2019, El-Baqer was arrested while representing his client, imprisoned human rights activist and blogger Alaa Abdelfattah, who was detained and being interrogated by the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). During Abdelfattah’s questioning, a prosecutor informed El-Baqer that he too was under arrest pending investigations into unfounded accusations of “joining a terrorist group,” “funding a terrorist group,” “disseminating false news undermining national security,” and “us[ing] social media to commit a publishing offense” in Case No. 1356/2019.

Nearly one year later, on 30 August 2020, El-Baqer was brought in for questioning and added to Case No. 855/2020 on nearly identical charges, in a practice by Egyptian authorities commonly known as ‘’rotation.’’ This new case includes other arbitrarily detained human rights defenders and activists such as blogger Mohamed “Oxygen”, journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah, and activist Mahienour El-Masry

Then, on 23 November 2020, the Official Gazette published the decision of the Cairo Criminal Court to include El-Baqer on the “terrorists list” for five years as a part of an entirely different case, No. 1781/2019. As a result of this designation, El-Baqer is subject to a travel ban, his assets are frozen, and he is prohibited from engaging in political or civic work for five years. In all three cases, El-Baqer has been denied due process, including the right to present a defense and challenge the lawfulness of his detention, or in Case No. 1781/2019, even be informed that he was under investigation. 

The news about El-Baqer’s “terrorists list” designation coincided with the announcement by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) that El-Baqer and six other imprisoned Egyptian lawyers had been awarded the 2020 Human Rights Award.

The fact that El-Baqer was arrested while representing his client and that he faces the same charges as his client, thus being identified with his client’s case, is contrary to Principle 18 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and shows the severity of the crackdown on human rights lawyers in Egypt. Attacks against lawyers have escalated in recent years and have included instances of arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearances, and numerous forms of harassment and intimidation. 

[…]

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/north-africa-middle-east/egypt/egypt-global-coalition-calls-for-release-of-detained-human-rights

https://euromedrights.org/publication/release-detained-egyptian-human-rights-lawyer-mohamed-el-baqer/

Click to access EN_20210726_Global-Coalition-Calls-for-Release-of-Detained-Egyptian-Human-Rights-Lawyer-Mohamed-El.pdf

(FRANCAIS)
(ESPANOL)

(ITALIANO)