Tag Archives: Day of the Endangered Lawyer

Interview: After Fleeing the Taliban, a Women’s Rights Defender Mourns the Loss of Afghanistan, Urges Action to Save the Country’s Lawyers

12/05/22

Before the United States withdrew its forces from Afghanistan last August, Najla Raheel was a busy lawyer specializing in assisting victims of domestic violence. She dedicated her free time to serving on legislative committees to strengthen protections for women’s rights. She also served in the upper echelons of the country’s nascent independent bar association. But when Washington pulled out and the Taliban swept in, everything changed.

As the Taliban claimed Kabul, it freed thousands of prisoners — including many of the men Raheel had helped put behind bars for spousal abuse. Fearful of revenge, and stifled by the new regime’s rapid imposition of policies aimed curbing the rights of women, Raheel knew she had to leave. After weeks of hiding in Kabul, she faced a harrowing journey to escape the immediate threats that surrounded her, and after months of legal limbo, has arrived in Canada, where she hopes to start a new life.

JURIST Features Editor Ingrid Burke Friedman spoke with Raheel about her professional life before the Taliban’s rise, the obstacles she faced in fleeing her country and establishing a new home, and her hopes for the beleaguered attorneys of Afghanistan.

[…]

Do you have faith that the legal profession in Afghanistan will regain its independence?

The Taliban seized control of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association shortly after they took Kabul, so by now the organization has been fully merged into their Justice Ministry. Because of that, I can’t say I have any optimism at all, though I do hold out hope for an independent profession in the future. But for that hope to ever translate into action, we will need the support of other bar associations around the globe. Without strong external support, I’m afraid there’s little room for wishful thinking.

What would you ask of lawyers around the world with respect to supporting the work and safety of those attorneys who were forced to flee Afghanistan, as well as those who stayed but now live in persecution?

I call on the lawyers of the world not to forget their counterparts in and of Afghanistan. We desperately need your support. In particular, I would make the following requests:

First: Advocates inside Afghanistan are under threat and their lives are in imminent danger. Help them leave Afghanistan.

Second: Those attorneys that have made it out of Afghanistan are often left to fester in refugee camps for far too long, which poses a threat to anyone’s mental health. Help them get out of these refugee camps and into destination countries.

Finally: Those attorneys who have made it past all of these obstacles and have arrived in destination countries so often find themselves unemployed, and thus unable to provide for themselves and their families. And ultimately, these attorneys who have devoted their professional lives to defending the rights of others find themselves silenced. Help them find work. In fact, help them find work helping Afghan refugees in order to alleviate this whole dark cycle.

https://www.jurist.org/features/2022/05/12/interview-after-fleeing-the-taliban-a-womens-rights-defender-mourns-the-loss-of-afghanistan-urges-action-to-save-the-countrys-lawyers/

https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/daphne-bramham-lives-of-afghans-who-worked-for-canada-in-heightened-danger

https://www.jurist.org/news/2022/05/afghanistan-dispatch-taliban-issue-severe-hijab-decree-for-afghan-women-2/

https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/nouvelle-aquitaine/gironde/bordeaux/temoignage-une-avocate-fuit-le-regime-des-talibans-en-afghanistan-et-se-refugie-en-gironde-2540184.html (FRANCAIS)

UK ‘turns back on’ former Afghan prosecutor hunted by Taliban

07/05/22

The UK’s Afghan resettlement scheme is failing to support those looking to flee Afghanistan, a former senior prosecutor who lives in fear of his life in neighboring Pakistan has told The Independent.

The man, who is being hunted by the Taliban, has lived in Pakistan for almost 18 months after fleeing his homeland. But he is still being denied resettlement in the UK despite having family members in Britain.

He is “constantly terrified” that underground Taliban networks in the country will locate and kill him. The former director of prosecution for an Afghan province has already been targeted by a car bomb, which he escaped by switching vehicles before it detonated.

He told The Independent that family members back in Afghanistan have received threatening visits and letters.

The former prosecutor living in Pakistan said of the Taliban takeover: “Can you imagine all the prisoners that I had put in prison for their crimes escaping? All the jails were breaking down, and everyone was coming out by themselves. I was scared to death.

“Dealing with the Taliban is a nightmare for all the attorneys. It was unusual for the head of a province to speak to them directly, but I wanted to see if they had regrets for what they did, as many of them are young.

“But it was very difficult because some of them were the most dangerous people — who are proud of killing women and killing children — and they said they would never regret their crimes.

[…]

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2077091/world

https://www.independent.co.uk/asia/south-asia/taliban-afghanistan-uk-resettlement-scheme-b2071241.html

https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/afghan-prosecutors-targeted/31471145.html

https://www.nycbar.org/media-listing/media/detail/taliban-takeover-of-the-afghanistan-independent-bar-association

https://www.abajournal.com/web/article/aba-works-to-help-afghan-evacuees-stuck-in-abu-dhabi-camp

Colombia: Day of the Endangered Lawyer – Wrap up

24/01/22

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Along with the workaday perils of practising law that they share with their male counterparts, such as being gunned down in the street, Colombia’s women lawyers face threats that are particular to them. They could be raped, for example, or suffer another form of sexual assault that aims to intimidate and discourage them from doing their job – which is representing and protecting the vulnerable through the rule of law. Also, women lawyers’ children may be threatened with violence or press ganged into a guerrilla army, where the only subject on the curriculum – Marxist precepts apart – is how to kill.

These are some of the stark truths to emerge from this year’s Day of the Endangered Lawyer (24 January) panel discussion chaired by Law Society international human rights adviser Doctor Marina Brilman. Previous discussions have looked at other countries where the rule of law no longer holds sway, such as Azerbajan, Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt. This year’s focus is on the South American republic of Colombia, where the 2016 peace agreement was supposed to have ended the 60 year conflict between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the state.

The conflict claimed around 262,000 lives, displaced 6.9m people, saw around 18,000 children forced to join armed groups and many thousands more people ‘disappeared’, raped or tortured. The optimism engendered by the agreement has failed to bear fruit, as the three Colombian lawyers on the panel report.

Dora Lucy Arias Giraldo is a member of Colombia’s leading human rights lawyers’ collective. She begins: ‘The Colombian constitution states that it is the duty of lawyers to promote human rights and represent the vulnerable. And yet the government, working through its own intelligence organisations, has an active strategy of diminishing and weakening our operations through attacks on our children and sexual violence against our (women lawyers’) bodies.’ She concedes: ‘There are protection measures in place regarding gender, but they are under-funded – a particular problem when trying to bring powerful economic players to justice.’

Ana Maria Rodriguez, who is also a human rights lawyer, warns that Colombia’s ‘entire existence as a social justice state’ is under threat. She points to recent ‘reforms’ that were designed specifically to weaken the remit of both public prosecutors and the ombudsman, while increasing the power of the executive to turn a blind eye to government corruption.

[…]

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/commentary-and-opinion/day-of-the-endangered-lawyer/5111266.article

https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2022/01/statement-of-aba-president-reginald-turner-re-day-of-the-endange/

https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/auvergne-rhone-alpes/rhone/lyon/journee-internationale-des-avocats-en-danger-le-barreau-de-lyon-denoncent-la-situation-de-leurs-conferes-colombiens-2431921.html (FRANCAIS)

https://www.leprogres.fr/societe/2022/01/24/journee-de-l-avocat-en-danger-a-lyon-une-tradition-de-defense-des-droits-de-l-homme

https://www.camerepenali.it/cat/11306/24_gennaio_2022_-_giornata_dell_avvocato_minacciato.html (ITALIANO)

May be an image of text that says "HANDS ELAWYERS CONVEGNO MB Golombia DIFENDERE minacciati OGNI COSTO Colombia nel mondo WEBINAR Venerdì gennaio 2022, ZOOM Saluti Federica SANTINON Presidente Presidente Renato Avv. STELLA Dott.ssa Avvocati Venezia Fondazione Feliciano Benvenuti NOLI Avv. Tiziana CESCHIN, Consigliera Campus Human Introduce delega diritti umani Consiglio Presiede Federico CAPPELLETTI Consigliere Coordinatore Commissione Avvocati Venezia dell'Ordine Intervengono Dott.ssa generale Colombia" Colombia testimonianza Ilruolo Droits processi Diritti Presidente Trarieux" Go-responsabile Osservatorio Avvocati CANESTRINI Committee European Criminal Italia Association Video-testimonianza Premio Rommel formativi CASTELLANOS, avvocato CONILPATROCINIODI colombiano, fini della ormazione obbligatoria Avvocati con riconoscimento lin. 3 obbligatorie. Prenotazione obbligatoria attraverso portale della Fondazione Feliciano EyBA"

Colombia: Day of the Endangered Lawyer – select tweets

24/01/22

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Colombia/UK etc: At risk for upholding the law: Day of the Endangered Lawyer

24/01/22

Lawyers are being arbitrarily arrested, prosecuted and convicted, as well as forcibly disappeared and even killed in countries across the world because of their work upholding the rule of law, the Law Society of England and Wales said to mark the day of the endangered lawyer on 24 January.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “We honour the courage and commitment of lawyers around the world who put their lives at risk so that people’s rights are protected and those who violate them are held accountable.

“Today we think particularly of our colleagues in Afghanistan who helped build the justice system and bring stability to the country under the former government. Since the Taliban took power some have tragically been killed because of the work they did, a few managed to escape, but far too many are in hiding, at risk from not only the Taliban but also from terrorists and criminals they convicted since released from prison.

“The Law Society stands in solidarity with legal professionals around the world. We will continue to work to support them and to contribute to building strong, fair justice systems everywhere.”

https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/contact-or-visit-us/press-office/press-releases/at-risk-for-upholding-the-law

https://www.uianet.org/en/actions/12th-day-endangered-lawyer-focus-colombia

https://www.naiz.eus/en/info/noticia/20220124/colombia-entre-los-paises-mas-peligrosos-para-los-abogados (ESPANOL)

(FRANCAIS)

https://www.avocatparis.org/actualites/journee-internationale-de-lavocat-en-danger-en-colombie

https://protect-lawyers.org/es/colombia/

www.defendre.eu/pdf/RapportObservatoireCOLOMBIE240122.pdf

https://actu.fr/auvergne-rhone-alpes/lyon_69123/lyon-pourquoi-les-avocats-vont-ils-manifester-en-robe-devant-le-nouveau-palais-de-justice_48090635.html

https://lesaf.org/journee-de-lavocat-en-danger-mobilisons-nous-massivement-sur-les-reseaux-sociaux-le-24-janvier-a-11h-en-publiant-une-photo-de-vous-avec-le-protectcolombianlawyer/

(ITALIANO)

https://www.jrf.org.tw/articles/2208%E2%80%8B (MANDARIN)

https://www.icab.cat/ca/actualitat/noticies/noticia/Les-Comissions-de-Defensa-i-de-Justicia-Penal-Internacional-de-lICAB-sadhereixen-al-manifest-del-Dia-de-lAdvocacia-Amenacada-2022/ (CATALON)

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May be an image of 3 people, people standing and text that says "JOURNÉE DE L'AVOCATEN DANGER APPEL À MANIFESTER LUNDI 24 JANVIER 2022 À 13H DEVANT L'AMBASSADE DE COLOMBIE Cette année, pour la deuxième fois la Journée de l'Avocat en Danger est dédiée la Colombie, où la persécution des avocats continue, empêchant nos confrères d'exercer librement leur profession. a. AVOCATS.BE"
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Azerbaijan: Denial of the commutation of sentence for Elchin Mammad

16/12/21

[…]

The Observatory has been informed about the denial of the commutation of sentence for Mr. Elchin Mammad, human rights lawyer, who has been arbitrarily detained on false charges for over a year at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal. Elchin Mammad is the President of the Social Union of Legal Education of Sumgait Youth (SULESY), an NGO providing free legal assistance to low-income families and non-profits, as well as the Editor-in-chief of the newspaper Yukselish Namine, which publishes articles on human rights concerns in Azerbaijan.

On December 9, 2021, the Court of Appeal of Baku rejected the appeal filed by Elchin Mammad challenging the October 9, 2021 decision of the Surakhani District Court to deny Mr. Mammad the replacement of his remaining prison term with either a suspended prison sentence or non-custodial alternatives. On November 24, 2021, Elchin Mammad was transferred from prison No. 14 of the Penitentiary Service of the Ministry of Justice to pre-trial detention centre No. 1 in Kurdakhani, where he remained detained at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal. The reasons for this transfer remain unknown. Elchin Mammad’s health has drastically deteriorated during his detention due to the lack of adequate medical care. Moreover, after his transfer to pre-trial detention centre No.1 in Kurdakhani, Elchin Mammad had no access to a bed for some days due to severe overcrowding in the facilities.

The Observatory recalls that on March 30, 2020, the police arrested Elchin Mammad at his home in the city of Sumgait, a few days after he had published online a critical report on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. The police claimed to have found stolen jewellery worth 7,500 manats (around 4,070 Euros) and ammunition at his office. The Sumgait City Court remanded Mr. Mammad in custody on charges of “theft causing significant damage” and “illegal purchase and possession of firearm accessories”. On October 14, 2020, the Sumgait City Court sentenced Mr. Mammad to four years in prison.

The Observatory further recalls that the circumstances in which the verdict was handed down suggest that Elchin Mammad did not benefit from a fair trial. The evidence heard at the trial was inconsistent and should not have led to Mr. Mammad’s conviction, while the investigation phase also appeared to have been marred by police tampering of evidence. Yet, on February 19, 2021, the Sumgayit Court of Appeal upheld the four-year prison sentence of Elchin Mammad and concluded that his right to a fair trial was respected during the judicial proceedings in his case. Moreover, on July 7, 2021, the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan upheld Elchin Mammad’s prison sentence. His lawyers announced they will submit his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

On June 12, 2021, Elchin Mammad was transferred to the Main Medical Department of the Ministry of Justice (Central Penitentiary hospital), following an order from the Ministry of Justice of Azerbaijan. Six days before his transfer to the penitentiary hospital, Elchin Mammad fainted. Moreover, he has lost a significant amount of weight while in detention, has trouble walking and swollen legs. Being ill with Hepatitis C, his health condition is particularly concerning and puts him at high risk of contracting COVID-19 in view of the overcrowding and poor prison conditions in Azerbaijan.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the ongoing arbitrary detention and the deteriorating health of Elchin Mammad and urges the Azerbaijani authorities to grant him access to adequate and comprehensive medical treatment, and to immediately and unconditionally release him, as his detention is arbitrary and is only putting his life at risk.

[…]

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/azerbaijan-denial-of-the-commutation-of-sentence-for-elchin-mammad

http://www.omct.org/en/resources/urgent-interventions/azerbaijan-deteriorating-health-conditions-of-elchin-mammad

Colombia/Day of the Endangered Lawyer: Threat against the CCAJAR lawyers collective, MOVICE movement of victims of state crimes

06/12/21

On December 6, PBI-Colombia tweeted: “Attention: Yesterday, December 5, the #DDHH [human rights] organizations accompanied by PBI @Ccajar and @Movicecol victims of state crimes. Urgent progress in investigations into those responsible and guarantees were threatened for political participation.”

CCAJAR has also tweeted: “We demand that @FiscaliaCol investigate, prosecute and punish the authors of this pamphlet. Never until today have the so-called ‘Black Eagles’ been identified. There are serious indications that these threats are acts of illegal intelligence from state agencies.”

El Espectador lists the 20 people named in the pamphlet. And Infobae quotes the pamphlet that states: “We continue with the civic and patriotic work of cleaning our homeland of leftist garbage, environmentalists and human rights defenders who intend to change the government from social networks and through indoctrination to the masses as they could not take power by arms…”

Contagio Radio further reports: “On Sunday morning, a pamphlet was released in which the so-called ‘Black Eagles’ associated with far-right sectors threatened several members of the Historical Pact and Victims’ movements such as MOVICE and the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective, as well as members of the First Line [Primera Linea].”

[…]

Colombia/Day of the Endangered Lawyer: Country File: The use of justice as a persecution mechanism (EN/ES/FR)

07/21

Country File / Colombia: The use of justice as a persecution mechanism
(ENGLISH)
(ESPANOL)
(FRANCAIS)

Colombia/Day of the Endangered Lawyer: Death Threats Against a Member of CAJAR and the Father of a Victim of the Massacre of Mondoñedo

22/06/21

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.

[…]

(ESPANOL)

https://www.fidh.org/es/temas/defensores-de-derechos-humanos/colombia-amenazas-contra-de-abogada-del-cajar-yessika-hoyos-morales-y

Azerbaijan: Azerbaijani rights lawyer vows to fight on despite disbarment proceedings

09/02/21

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. 

[…]

https://www.djs-jds.ch/fr/1854-day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-fr

[:en]Lawyer Shahla Gumbatova refused to testify at the prosecutor’s office[:]

Click to access List-of-disbarred-lawyers-in-Azerbaijan-Feb-2020.pdf

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

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shahla_Humbatova (FRANCAIS)