Tag Archives: Day of the Endangered Lawyer
Colombia/Day of the Endangered Lawyer: Country File: The use of justice as a persecution mechanism (EN/ES/FR)
Colombia/Day of the Endangered Lawyer: Death Threats Against a Member of CAJAR and the Father of a Victim of the Massacre of Mondoñedo
On the afternoon of June 11, 2021, following the hearings scheduled to provide testimony on the case of the Massacre of Mondoñedo, which took place over a two-week period within the preliminary proceedings for the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), Yessika Hoyos Morales, member of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR), received the following two text messages :
“Motherfucking Guerrilla Fighter Asking ‘Bout Things That Don’t Matter to You That’s Why We Got More Gas to Burn You Like We Did Your Dead Son That’s What’s Waiting For You You Old Motherfucking Snitch”
“Keep Snitching And You’ll End Up Dead ‘Cause You’re Defending Guerrilla Fighters”
Mr. Alfonso Mora León, the father of Jenner Alfonso Mora Moncaleano, a victim of the Massacre of Mondoñedo, who is represented by Yessika Hoyos Morales, also received these same text messages. Mr. Mora, who in the past has been the target of harassment and other serious threats, took part in the victims delegations participating in the meetings held in Havana, Cuba, as part of the peace dialogues with the former guerrilla group FARC-EP. Likewise, he has been a tireless advocate for truth, justice, peace and guarantees for the non-repetition of such horrific acts as those subjected upon his son.
The massacre of Mondoñedo, which was perpetrated by members of the national police (DIJIN) on September 6 and 7 of 1996, resulted in the deaths of the university students Vladimir Zambrano, Arquímedes Moreno, Jenner Alfonso Mora Moncaleano, and Juan Carlos Palacio Gómez. On September 7, 1996, the students’ bodies were found in the city dump in the town of Mondoñedo, located on the Hacienda “Fute”, near the road from Mosquera to Soacha. Martín Alonso Valdivieso and Federico Quesada, who were from the districts of Fontibón and Kennedy in Bogotá, were also murdered.
Allegedly through the use of witnesses, a unit from the DIJIN had previously identified these students as members of the Antonio Nariño urban network of the FARC guerrilla group. In 1995, this guerrilla unit set off an explosive device in the police station located in the district of Kennedy, Bogotá, which resulted in the death of three members of the police. This police unit took matters into their own hands and murdered the students and incinerated their bodies to evade their recognition. It is for that reason the threat stated they would “burn” him like they did his son.
Prominent Azerbaijani human rights lawyer Shahla Humbatova has vowed to fight disbarment procedures against her despite what she says is a campaign of ‘harassment and threats’ from the Bar Association.
The Azerbaijani Bar Association has accused Humbatova of submitting a fake document as evidence during a civil case she was litigating, a criminal offence. They have also accused her of owing ₼460 ($270) in membership fees.
The association has taken her to court in an attempt to disbar her, which would strip her of the right to practice law.
Humbatova is well known in Azerbaijan for taking on high-profile human rights cases, including those of queer Azerbaijanis as well as blogger Mehman Huseynov. The move to disbar her follows the disbarment of dozens of other human rights lawyers in recent years, leaving few remaining lawyers taking on such cases.
Speaking with OC Media, Humbatova insisted the accusations were politically motivated.
She said the allegation she submitted fake documents was baseless, and that her defence had submitted evidence proving this.
She also said that Anar Baghirov, Chair of the Presidium of the Bar Association, had already requested that the Prosecutor’s office investigate this. Earlier this year the Anti Corruption Department found no evidence of a crime in her actions.
She confirmed that she had owed eight months of membership fees, but insisted the association did not make any effort to notify her of this.
‘I learned about this from the media the day after the Board’s decision [to take me to court]’, she said.
Humbatova stated that she immediately made the payment, so when the Bar went to court with her disbarment request, there was no longer any debt.
Uzbekistan/Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan etc: Majlis Podcast: Lawyers In Central Asia — Defending Clients And Themselves
January 24 was the Day of the Endangered Lawyer and an opportunity to remember the many problems some Central Asian attorneys have to face.
In Central Asia, defendants have a right to an attorney, but state-appointed defenders have a reputation for half-hearted work or, in some cases, even supporting the prosecution in convicting their clients.
Being an independent lawyer willing to defend people who for some reason or another are looked upon as a nuisance or threat by the governments of the region is a hazardous occupation.
Some of these attorneys are intimidated or threatened, some are attacked, and some are imprisoned.
On this week’s Majlis podcast, RFE/RL media-relations manager Muhammad Tahir moderates a discussion on the plight of lawyers in Central Asia.
This week’s guests are: Madina Akhmetova, the director of the Dignity public association based in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan; Jasmine Cameron, who is originally from Kyrgyzstan but is now a senior staff attorney at the Human Rights Center of the American Bar Association; from California, Steve Swerdlow, a longtime Central Asia watcher, recently returned from Uzbekistan, and human rights lawyer who is currently an associate professor of human rights at the University of Southern California; and from Prague, Bruce Pannier, the author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.
Azerbaijan: Disbarred, suspended, or criminally prosecuted: Azerbaijani human rights lawyers (updated)
This list has been compiled by the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) on the basis of publicly available reports from international human rights organisations and information from partner lawyers in Azerbaijan.
In the years following the 2014 crackdown on civil society in Azerbaijan and the criminal prosecution of NGO and human rights defenders, human rights lawyers who took up these and other ‘politically sensitive’ cases have been subjected to severe retaliation by the authorities, which has sometimes resulted in the suspension of their licences and even disbarment.
Disciplinary proceedings have been brought against human rights lawyers in response to their legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression: for publicising human rights violations perpetrated against their clients in detention, or for disclosing instances of the abusive administration of justice in their clients’ cases. As a result, over a dozen Azerbaijani lawyers have been deprived of the opportunity to practise their profession, and over two dozen have been targeted by the Azerbaijani authorities since 2005.
In January 2020, in its first case relating to the disbarment of a lawyer in Azerbaijan, the European Court of Human Rights (European Court) found a violation of the right to a private life (Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights) in the case of Elchin Namazov, who was disbarred in the absence of adequate procedural safeguards in disciplinary proceedings brought against him. The Court found that the domestic courts had failed to assess the proportionality of the sanction.
Khalid Bagirov is another prominent human rights lawyer who was first suspended in 2011 after he made comments about the suspicious death of his client in police custody. He was later permanently disbarred in 2015 for criticising Azerbaijan’s judicial system during a trial which concerned a domestic court’s failure to implement the European Court’s judgment in the case of Ilgar Mammadov, an opposition politician whose arrest was found to be politically motivated.
In June 2020, the European Court ruled that Azerbaijan’s suspension and disbarment of Bagirov was in breach of his freedom of expression (Article 10 of ECHR) and right to a private life. The Court ordered the Azerbaijani Government to ensure the “maximum possible reparation” for Khalid Bagirov, “and [that] they should put the applicant, as far as possible, in the position in which he had been before his disbarment.”
Day of the Endangered Lawyer: Exclusive Interview: Diego García-Sayán, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers
On the International Day of Endangered Lawyers – 2021, we have the privilege of having an exclusive interview with Mr Diego García-Sayán, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. We talked about a wide range of topics: from growing authoritarianism to attacks on judges and lawyers; Poland, Turkey, Hungary, Italy and others.
Q1: Mr Garcia-Sayán, first we must thank you for your incredible efforts to protect the lawyers and judges across the world in these difficult times. Could you start by talking more about your mission as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers?
In 1994, the Commission on Human Rights, in resolution 1994/41, noting both the increasing frequency of attacks on the independence of judges, lawyers and court officials and the link which exists between the weakening of safeguards for the judiciary and lawyers and the gravity and frequency of violations of human rights, decided to appoint, for a period of three years, a Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. Like other Special Procedures, this mandate was assumed by the Human Rights Council (General Assembly resolution 60/251), and extended for one year, subject to the review to be undertaken by the Council (Human Rights Council decision 2006/102).
The responsibility entrusted to the Special Rapporteur s diverse and complex. His/her mandate is broad and covers issues such as access to justice, the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and the proper functioning of the justice system, the protection of the person and function of judges, lawyers, prosecutors and judicial officers, and the right to a fair trial and due process. All of these aspects are fundamental to the exercise of human rights.
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) calls on all countries, including Australia, to ensure that lawyers are able to perform their professional obligations without fear of retribution.
On 24 January 2021, the 11th Day of the Endangered Lawyer, lawyers across the world are given a specific opportunity to reflect on the grave infringement of human rights experienced by some of our colleagues, and to advocate for systemic change in their treatment. ALHR finds it highly concerning that lawyers risk danger for upholding the human rights of others and protecting vulnerable clients.
ALHR President Kerry Weste said “ALHR gives thought to the many human rights lawyers around the world who remain in prison or are at risk for simply doing their job and attempting to carry out their duties in line with international standards. Unfortunately, this now includes Australian lawyers facing prosecution for performing their duties.
In 2021 the global focus of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer is on the experiences of lawyers in Azerbaijan. Serious human rights violations have affected Azerbaijani lawyers who represent the victims of human rights violations and have spoken up about torture and ill-treatment in police custody. Lawyers who assisted in bringing the cases of human rights defenders to the European Court of Human Rights have been disbarred or even detained on various charges. The Azerbaijani authorities have failed to respect the rights of lawyers by not adequately enabling them to perform their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference. Furthermore, the Azerbaijani authorities have failed to take substantive steps to uphold the right to a fair trial and to guarantee that every citizen has effective access to justice and legal assistance of their choice.”
“ALHR calls on all countries to comply with the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and ensure that lawyers can act in accordance with the law and without improper interference or persecution,” Ms Weste said.
At the end of each year, the demise of the world’s most endangered species is charted in a sadly familiar list, from tigers and snow leopards to rhinos and gorillas.
But it’s not just wildlife that is at risk. Today marks the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, a moment to recognize the threats facing lawyers around the world who dare to stand up for human rights. In recent years Amnesty International has felt the impact of these threats close to home, through the government crackdown on our colleagues in Turkey.
One was a sunny morning in June 2017 I got a call. Taner Kılıç, our then chair of Amnesty International Turkey and a tireless asylum rights lawyer in Izmir, had been arrested in a dawn raid. Detention orders for 22 other lawyers had also been issued.
“Today marks the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, a moment to recognize the threats facing lawyers around the world who dare to stand up for human rights”
A month later, Idil Eser, then director of Amnesty Turkey, was arrested along with nine others, including human rights lawyer Günal Kurşun.
Taner Kılıç, Idil Eser and the other nine arrested were all accused of absurd terrorism-related charges and held in pre-trial detention for many months – almost 15 in Taner’s case.
During a three-year trial involving 12 court hearings, each and every allegation presented by the government was comprehensively exposed as a baseless accusation.
And yet, last July, Taner was sentenced to six years and three months in prison for ‘membership of the Fethullah Gülen terrorist organization’. Turkey blames the Gülen movement for the 2016 attempted coup.
İdil Eser, Günal Kurşun and another human rights defender, Özlem Dalkıran, were also convicted and sentenced to one year and 13 months for ‘assisting the Fethullah Gülen terrorist organization’. A few months later in November, a regional appeals court upheld the unfathomable convictions, rubberstamping the miscarriage of justice. The four defenders have taken their case to the highest appeals court.
The fact that these politically motivated verdicts swept up several lawyers drove home the increased danger to the legal community in Turkey. Their cases are far from rare. Detaining lawyers has become routine practice, deepening the climate of fear and repression across the country.
Hundreds of lawyers are now believed to be in pre-trial detention or serving prison terms in Turkey’s overcrowded jails. They are regularly targeted through abusive criminal investigations and unfair prosecutions, accused of the alleged crimes of their clients.
Veteran human rights lawyer, Eren Keskin, has been on the receiving end of more than 100 criminal prosecutions for her role as a ‘symbolic editor’ of the now shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper. If the sentences pending against her, Taner and Günal are upheld on appeal, all three, who are currently on bail, would be sent to prison and unable to practice law again.
Le 24 janvier 2021, le Conseil national des barreaux s’associe à la 11e édition de la Journée internationale de l’avocat en danger, qui attirera l’attention sur la situation préoccupante des avocats azéris. Un combat qui s’inscrit dans un engagement plus large en faveur des confrères menacés à travers le monde.
Une journée internationale pour dénoncer la situation en Azerbaïdjan
Coalisant les principales organisations représentatives de la profession, la Journée internationale de l’avocat en danger a pour objectif de sensibiliser la société civile et les pouvoirs publics sur les dangers qui pèsent sur des milliers d’avocats partout dans le monde.
Après que de multiples cas de harcèlement des avocats, en violation du droit international et des normes internationales sur l’indépendance de la profession y aient été documentés, l’Observatoire International des Avocats en Danger (OIAD) attire l’attention sur l’Azerbaïdjan. À travers cette journée, c’est un barreau sous l’influence de l’exécutif et le harcèlement dont sont victimes certains avocats qui est dénoncé.
Dans le cadre de cette journée, les organisations représentatives de la profession d’avocat organisent une manifestation devant l’Ambassade d’Azerbaïdjan. Elle se tiendra à Paris, le lundi 25 janvier 2021, à 11h.
Rendez-vous sur le terre-plein rue Auguste Vacquerie angle rue Jean Giraudoux, à proximité immédiate de l’Ambassade d’Azerbaïdjan à Paris.
The 11th Day of the Endangered Lawyer which will be marked tomorrow, (22 January) focuses on Azerbaijan this year.
Protests and seminars will be organised in solidarity with human rights lawyers in Azerbaijan.
The Day of the Endangered lawyer is normally commemorated each year on 24 January, which falls on Sunday this year.
Protests organised by local lawyer associations are planned worldwide outside embassies and consulates of the Republic of Azerbaijan, in compliance with public health guidelines.
A petition supported by international, European and national lawyers‘ organizations will be presented to the respective embassies and sent to the Azerbaijan government.
Protests outside Azerbaijani embassies will be organised in Berlin and Rome and in Ankara and other Turkish cities.
A seminar at 2pm today, organised by the Law Society of England and Wales, will be supported by Lawyers for Lawyers, DAV DeutscherAnwaltVerein, ELDH – the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights.