June 19, 2018
The ICJ welcomes the proposal of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in its Recommendation 2121(2018) calling for the development of a Council of Europe Convention on the Profession of Lawyer.
The ICJ believes that such a Convention could make an important contribution to strengthening the rule of law and the protection of human rights in the Council of Europe region, building on existing Council of Europe standards and jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.
The ICJ particularly welcomes PACE’s call for an effective control mechanism to be put in place under a new Convention, as recent developments in a number of Council of Europe Member States show a significant gap in implementation of Council of Europe standards on the independence and security of lawyers.
Lawyers, along with judges and prosecutors, are one of the pillars on which protection of the rule of law and human rights through the justice system rests.
Recognizing this, the ICJ, since its foundation in 1952, has worked to protect lawyers under threat and to develop international standards for the independence, role and integrity of the profession.
March 14, 2018
The statement of advocate Vahe Grigoryan about the problems of independence of the Armenian Bar made in the framework of the 09.03.2018 Conference on the Current Challenges and Opportunities of the Bars and Law Societies of the Council of Europe Member States
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to skip the issues relating to the organisational aspects of today’s event, including the strange role of the President of the Bar Chamber in them to save time and to focus on what is most important to us.
I will start by thanking the experts invited to this event by the co-organisers for their readiness to share their interesting and informative opinions with us.
Given the fact that this is the first event in Yerevan with the participation of the interested organisations, including the ‘opposition advocates’ (please note that this label was given to us by the President of the Chamber and not me or any other colleague of mine), I would like to draw the attention of the present to a number of problems the Armenian Bar faces today.
Around 30 advocates have already applied to the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) expressing their conerns about a number of serious problems the Bar faces today and we look forward to hearing the positions of this and a number of other international bodies on solutions to these problems.
We are of the position that the President and the Board of the Armenian Bar Chamber have in fact transformed this professional self-regulated body into an instrument in the hands of the Armenian Government with a view to subjecting it to a type of oversight, which is contrary to the standards enshrined in our Constitution and the relevant national and international instruments for regulation of the legal profession.
Protecting endangered lawyers and the rule of law: Andrew Walker QC underlines the growing concerns and global initiatives
The entrance to the home of the Paris Bar is dominated by a map of the world.
A spider’s web of lines links all too many countries to short biographical cards that surround it. Each card identifies a lawyer who has suffered from some form of persecution – even death – simply for doing his or her job: defending the rights of others. It is a firm statement of intent by one of the largest Bars in Europe to stand together with our fellow lawyers, wherever they are under threat. It is a stark reminder, too, of how widespread and serious are the threats faced by lawyers in very many parts of the world.
I am reminded of that Parisian map as I reflect on some of our own initiatives as I write this month’s column. The Day of the Endangered Lawyer is a recent idea, designed to draw attention to what seems to be a growing concern. This year, we joined lawyers across Europe in calling on the Egyptian authorities to take a series of steps to uphold the rule of law and to protect lawyers from arrest, detention and prosecution.
The experience in Europe has inspired another initiative: the proposal for a European Convention on the Profession of Lawyer. We have thrown our weight behind this, and are lobbying for the necessary government support in the Council of Europe. Such support is far from guaranteed. I regret to say that of the 18 UK members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, only four voted on the proposal, and only three of them were in favour.
While the main impetus for this may be experience in other countries, we would be foolish to take our own position for granted. To give just one example: the Bar Council has expended considerable time and energy over the last few years in arguing for legal professional privilege to be given explicit protection in a number of Acts passed by our own Parliament, not always successfully. We and others will be pressing for a convention to include protection for legal professional privilege, as well as for the independence of lawyers and their professional bodies. Protection enshrined in an international treaty would be a valuable addition to our armoury.