Tag Archives: Council of Europe

In Belarus, Lukashenka’s Government Targets Lawyers And The Legal Profession As A Whole

12/11/21

"Behind every tyrant in history have stood lawyers, prosecutors, and judges who justified his rule and punished his opponents for their supposed crimes," said lawyer Maksim Znak in accepting the International Bar Association Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Rights.

At the beginning of the month, new government-sponsored amendments to the Belarusian Law on the Bar and Legal Advocacy came into effect that have been widely criticized as intended to impose government control over the legal profession and undermine its independence.

The new legislation comes in the wake of a massive crackdown on lawyers individually in which about three dozen defense attorneys — many defending prominent opposition figures and anti-government activists — have been deprived of their law licenses.

“Lawyers are people who defend citizens from the authorities,” Dzmitry Layeuski, a prominent defense attorney who was stripped of his license in July, told RFE/RL’s Belarus Service. “Now lawyers themselves need defense. But what we see is indifference from the public.”

On October 25, lawyer Natallya Matskevich, whose clients included jailed would-be presidential candidates Viktar Babaryka and Syarhey Tsikhanouski, was expelled from the Belarusian Collegium of Lawyers, the country’s bar association, for unspecified alleged wrongdoing. She was at least the fifth attorney working to defend Babaryka to lose her license.

The government’s targeting of lawyers is part of a massive crackdown on dissent following the disputed August 2020 presidential election that handed a sixth term to strongman leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Thousands of people have been arrested, and most top opposition figures have either been jailed or pushed out of the country.

The European Union, the United States, Canada, and other countries have refused to recognize Lukashenka as Belarus’s legitimate leader and have imposed sanctions on him and several senior Belarusian officials in response to the “falsification” of the vote and the postelection crackdown.

However, Minsk’s latest moves include changing the rules of legal accreditation to undermine the already-compromised independence of the Belarusian bar association, with potential long-term effects for the entire country.

Attacking The Defenders?

“The crackdown on lawyers who dare to do their job and assist all those who are arbitrarily detained or otherwise harassed by the Belarusian government is a sign of a severe deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus, a deterioration that will shape [Lukashenka’s] sixth term in office and beyond,” wrote international rights activist Ewelina Ochab in a column for Forbes in August.

The new amendments to the Law on the Bar and Legal Advocacy were passed in May and took effect on November 1. They restrict which lawyers and law firms are able to take on the defense of clients facing criminal or administrative charges.

All lawyers applying for licenses must be approved in advance by the Justice Ministry and the amended law empowers the ministry to develop and enforce a code of professional ethics for lawyers. It creates a Qualification Commission, under the control of the Justice Ministry. The Justice Ministry now controls the “election” of heads of regional bar associations and has the power to dismiss them. The ministry also has the power to demand any documents from bar associations or individual lawyers.

[…]

https://www.rferl.org/a/belarus-liquidated-legal-profession/31558941.html

https://pace.coe.int/en/news/8488/pace-president-condemns-recent-reprisals-against-civil-society-and-human-rights-defenders-in-belarus

https://www.ibanet.org/Belarus-Lawyers-Ludmila-Kazak-and-Maksim-Znak-win-the-2021-IBA-Human-Rights-Award

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxim_Znak

Memorandum of understanding between the Council of Europe and the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe

18/06/21

Margarete GrĂ€fin von Galen, President of the CCBE; Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe and the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) signed a memorandum of understanding in Strasbourg today with a view to stepping up cooperation between the two bodies and making the Organisation’s activities more visible to Europe’s lawyers.

Lawyers play a key role in the equal administration of justice and the protection of the rights of individuals. In this context, they contribute to ensuring the public’s confidence in the action of tribunals, whose mission is fundamental for democracy and the rule of law. The European Convention on Human Rights protects and guarantees in this respect a number of essential rights which are related to the specific status of lawyers in the administration of justice.

The Council of Europe has long been committed to protecting this profession. The European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) recently prepared a feasibility study for a new European legal instrument for protecting the profession of lawyer.

The Council of Europe has longstanding links with bar associations, especially the CCBE (representing over a million lawyers in 45 countries) which makes substantial contributions to the work of the Organisation and cooperates with several organs, in particular the European Court of Human Rights.

[…]

https://www.coe.int/en/web/human-rights-rule-of-law/-/memorandum-of-understanding-between-the-council-of-europe-and-the-council-of-bars-and-law-societies-of-europe

https://www.coe.int/fr/web/human-rights-rule-of-law/-/memorandum-of-understanding-between-the-council-of-europe-and-the-council-of-bars-and-law-societies-of-europe (FRANCAIS)

Council of Europe: Protection of lawyers: Feasibility study on a new European legal instrument

19/04/21

The European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) of the Council of Europe publishes today its feasibility study on a new binding or non-binding, European legal instrument to protect the profession of lawyer.

This study examines the problems faced by lawyers in the 47 member States of the Council of Europe, the extent of these problems, the use made of the existing instruments in practice as well as the level of the protection and the manner in which this is currently offered to lawyers. It assesses the possible added-value and effectiveness of a possible future legal instrument in the field, the advantages and disadvantages or risks, according to the nature of such an instrument.

The CDCJ will continue working on these issues as part of its standard-setting activities, taking into account the elements of the study and in accordance with the decisions of the Committee of Ministers.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/human-rights-rule-of-law/-/protection-of-lawyers-feasibility-study-on-a-new-european-legal-instrument

https://www.coe.int/en/web/cdcj/-/recommendation-and-resolution-on-the-principles-and-guarantees-of-advocates-

https://www.coe.int/fr/web/human-rights-rule-of-law/-/protection-of-lawyers-feasibility-study-on-a-new-european-legal-instrument (FRANCAIS)

UK/Council of Europe: Lawyers’ rights need greater protection

29/03/21

Council of Europe - Wikipedia

For years there has been an interesting debate in Europe about whether protections for lawyers’ rights should be strengthened. The Council of Europe (CoE), which covers 47 member states including the UK, is considering whether continuing attacks on lawyers call for a new legal instrument.

In other words, are the CoE’s 2000 recommendation ‘on the freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyers’, R(2000)21, together with the rights embedded in the European Convention on Human Rights, enough to ensure that lawyers do not suffer when carrying out their duties – and suffer they do, as explained below.

Now a new CoE report says that our rights need a new binding convention specifically focused on lawyers. The report is almost unfindable on the CoE website, and labours under the distinctly unappealing title of ‘Feasibility study on a new, binding or non-binding, European legal instrument on the profession of lawyer – possible added-value and effectiveness’.  

Despite this obscurity, and the fact that it is written as a technical report for a technical committee and so not quite up to the excitement of an airport thriller, it turns out to be one of the most useful documents written about the European legal profession for a long time. And it is by an English barrister, Jeremy McBride.

It is useful for many reasons. First, it recites the violence and threats that lawyers face: murder and other assaults; being prevented from meeting clients; communications being monitored and homes and businesses searched; forcing lawyers to act as witnesses against clients; using admission or disciplinary procedures to exclude those whom the authorities consider politically undesirable; and creating bars which are not independent enough to protect members.

Each of these categories is documented with cases. And the report states that it is impossible exactly to quantify the problem, since there is no place in Europe or elsewhere which monitors the position of lawyers alone. Attacks on lawyers are monitored via other collective mandates, such as with human rights defenders or with judges.

[…]

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/commentary-and-opinion/lawyers-rights-need-greater-protection/5107956.article

https://www.ccbe.eu/actions/european-convention-on-the-profession-of-lawyer/

https://www.coe.int/en/web/cdcj/profession-of-lawyer

https://www.coe.int/en/web/cdcj/-/recommendation-and-resolution-on-the-principles-and-guarantees-of-advocates-

Belgium/Bulgaria: La libertĂ© d’exercice de la profession d’avocat en Europe

novembre 2020

Le 23 octobre 2020, l’AssemblĂ©e parlementaire du Conseil de l’Europe a adoptĂ© une rĂ©solution sur la libertĂ© d’exercice de la profession d’avocat. Les principes gĂ©nĂ©raux qui y sont repris nous sont largement connus, Ă  nous avocats belges, qui avons la chance de vivre dans un pays qui reconnait et protĂšge nos libertĂ©s fondamentales.
 
Mais au sein de notre Europe, ce n’est pas le cas partout.
 
Anne Jonlet a ainsi communiquĂ© au Conseil d’administration d’AVOCATS.BE une lettre du barreau bulgare Ă©voquant la situation des avocats de ce pays, membre de l’Union europĂ©enne depuis le 1er janvier 2007. Le Procureur gĂ©nĂ©ral Geshev y assimile les avocats aux personnes qu’ils dĂ©fendent, ce qui en fait des complices aux yeux du public et conduit Ă  des dĂ©tentions abusives sans enquĂȘte prĂ©alable. 
 
Le procureur gĂ©nĂ©ral a Ă©galement dĂ©clarĂ© publiquement que les avocats ne font que s’en prendre Ă   l’argent de leurs clients sans tenir compte de la vĂ©ritĂ©, ce qui dĂ©montre dans le chef du magistrat un mĂ©pris des droits des justiciables, du rĂŽle des avocats et de l’État de droit. Les citoyens ont exigĂ© la dĂ©mission immĂ©diate du gouvernement et du procureur gĂ©nĂ©ral mais sans rĂ©sultat. 
 
Le barreau bulgare est inquiet car il n’existe aucun mĂ©canisme pour contraindre le procureur gĂ©nĂ©ral Ă  respecter la loi et Ă  s’abstenir d’abuser de son Ă©norme pouvoir, ce qui constitue autant de menaces pour l’État de droit et la sĂ©paration des pouvoirs en Bulgarie. La profession d’avocat est Ă©galement menacĂ©e par les suggestions du procureur gĂ©nĂ©ral visant son immoralitĂ© et son avilissement face Ă  l’argent.

[…]

https://mailchi.mp/avocats.be/la-tribune-europenne-davocatsbe-la-libert-dexercice-de-la-profession-davocat-en-europe

https://www.novinite.com/articles/206258/Bulgarian+Judicial+Council+Will+Discuss+Opening+of+Procedure+for+Dismissal+of+Prosecutor+General (ENGLISH)

https://www.iustel.com/diario_del_derecho/noticia.asp?ref_iustel=1204630 (ESPANOL)

Turkey/Germany: Exiled Turkish lawyers hold “alternative” judicial ceremony in Berlin

September 5, 2019

Exiled Turkish lawyers hold ñ€œalternativeñ€ judicial ceremony in Berlin

A group of Turkish lawyers who fled an ongoing purge in Turkey, has come together in Berlin, Germany, to mark the opening of the new judicial year, the Kronos news portal reported.

According to the report, the event was held in support of some 50 bar associations in Turkey that boycotted the opening ceremony of the new judicial year at the President Erdogan’s presidential palace in Ankara, citing the independence of judiciary from executive power.

The independence of the Turkish judiciary came further into question when the new judicial year opening ceremony held at President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s palace in September 2016 turned into a display of judicial support for Erdoğan.

During the ceremony prosecutors and judges stood up and applauded Erdoğan when he entered the hall and when he finished his address.

Erdoğan’s government is accused of taking the judiciary under its absolute control and punishing dissenting judicial members either by expelling or arresting them.

Exiled Turkish lawyers hold “alternative” judicial ceremony in Berlin

https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/-/the-independence-of-judges-and-the-judiciary-under-threat

Turkish Bar Associations boycott new judicial year opening at presidential palace (updated)

New Report: Mass Prosecution of Lawyers in Turkey

https://ahvalnews.com/arrested-lawyers/turkey-has-sentenced-321-lawyers-2000-years-jail-2016-report

Turkey has prosecuted some 1,500 lawyers, arrested 599 since failed coup: report

LATEST REPORT | MASS PROSECUTION OF LAWYERS IN TURKEY

Council of Europe/CCBE: European Convention on the Profession of Lawyer: Update

September 2, 2019

https://www.ccbe.eu/actions/european-convention-on-the-profession-of-lawyer/

https://www.lawsociety.ie/gazette/Top-Stories/attacks-on-lawyers-are-intensifying-eu-hearing-told/

http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/News/News-View-EN.asp?newsid=6944&lang=2

The case for drafting a European Convention on the Profession of Lawyer

[OPINION] Turkey tries to undermine the Council of Europe

Click to access coe-case-for-convention-on-lawyer-profession-recommendation-2121.pdf

https://www.counselmagazine.co.uk/articles/the-value-of-strong-and-independent-legal-profession

https://www.ccbe.eu/fr/actions/convention-europeenne-sur-la-profession-davocat/ (FRANCAIS)

Turkey: Turkey must rebuild trust in judiciary, protect human rights – CoE commissioner

July 8, 2019

savcı

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic has called on Turkey to urgently take measures to re-establish trust in its judiciary and repair the rule of law, which was damaged during two years of emergency rule following the July 2016 coup attempt.

Constitutional changes regarding the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) made during the two-year state of emergency “are in clear contradiction with Council of Europe standards,” Mijatovic said following a five-day visit to Turkey.

“The suspension of ordinary safeguards and procedures for the dismissal, recruitment and appointment of judges and prosecutors’’ were an additional cause for concern, she said.

Turkey’s state of emergency came into effect on July 20, 2016, days after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government survived a coup attempt.

The state of emergency allowed the government to issue decree laws, bypassing legislative and judicial procedures. Over 77,000 people have been arrested and another 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been fired from the government as part of a crackdown by Ankara following the failed putsch.

https://ahvalnews.com/turkish-judiciary/turkey-must-rebuild-trust-judiciary-protect-human-rights-coe-commissioner

https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/turkey-needs-to-put-an-end-to-arbitrariness-in-the-judiciary-and-to-protect-human-rights-defenders

Threats to the rule of law in Europe

EU accuses Turkey for violating human rights by opening Gezi protests trial

9 Turkish judges, prosecutors suspended over alleged GĂŒlen links

CoE calls on Turkey to repair damage to Turkish judiciary inflicted by state of emergency

https://www.protect-lawyers.com/fr/compte-rendu-presentation-du-rapport-de-human-rights-watch-sur-la-situation-des-avocats-en-turquie/ (FRANCAIS)

https://www.union-syndicale-magistrats.org/web2/fr/soutien-collegues-turcs_news_1295 (FRANCAIS)

Azerbaijan: ICJ publishes recommendations on the role and independence of lawyers in Azerbaijan

May 8, 2019

The recommendations published today follow the Conference on the Independence of the Legal profession held by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Council of Europe (CoE) Office in Baku and the Azerbaijan Bar Association (ABA) in Baku, on 15-16 November 2018.

The Conference created much-needed space for a dialogue on the issue of independence of lawyers in Azerbaijan with both national and international stakeholders, as lawyers from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan shared their experiences and good practices in addressing challenges to the independence of lawyers. Drawing on the discussions at the Conference, and taking into account key findings of the ICJ report of 2016 “Defenceless Defenders: Systemic Problems in the Legal Profession of Azerbaijan” as well as more recent legislative and administrative developments, the ICJ makes recommendations aimed at strengthening the role and independence of lawyers and improving access to justice in Azerbaijan. The recommendations are informed by international law and standards on the role of lawyers and cover four main aspects: adequacy of the number of lawyers to ensure access to justice; the examination procedure for qualification as a lawyer; professional ethics of lawyers and disciplinary proceedings against lawyers.

ICJ publishes recommendations on the role and independence of lawyers in Azerbaijan

https://www.turan.az/ext/news/2019/4/free/Social/en/80441.htm

https://www.voanews.com/a/azerbaijan-journalist-freed-from-prison-but-not-free-to-travel-/4903975.html

Azerbaijan/Council of Europe/ICJ: Baku to host international conference on “Role and Independence of lawyers: Comparative Perspectives”

November 13, 2018

An international conference on the topic of “The role and independence of lawyers: comparative perspectives” organized by the Azerbaijani Bar Association, the Council of Europe and the International Commission of Jurists will be held on November 15-16.

Report informs citing the Association that heads of the foreign ministries of 15 foreign countries, senior officials of international organizations, as well as heads of the supreme governing bodies of Azerbaijan will take part in the event.

https://report.az/en/domestic-politics/baku-to-host-international-conference-on-role-and-independence-of-lawyers-comparative-perspectives/

https://www.coe.int/fr/web/human-rights-rule-of-law/-/conference-on-the-role-and-independence-of-lawyers-comparative-perspectives-

http://www.gocatalog.az/info/Detailed_News.aspx?id=52656&lng=en

https://www.azerbaycan24.com/en/baku-to-host-international-conference-on-role-and-independence-of-lawyers-comparative-perspectives/

Image may contain: one or more people and text

Follow LIVE tomorrow as from 9.15am (#Baku: GMT +4) the international conference on “The role and#independence of #lawyers: comparative prospectives” starting tomorrow morning. It is organised by the Council of Europe jointly with the International Commission of Jurists and the Bar Association of Azerbaijan. International experts and prominent lawyers representing the leadership of national bar associations from a wide range of countries will be present as well as Mr Christophe Poirel, Director of Human Rights, Council of Europe and Mr Azer Jafarov, Deputy Minister of Justice of Azerbaijan and others. #StayTuned, follow and share: https://bit.ly/2DlQbHV

(Council of Europe – Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law Facebook, 14/11/18)