Tag Archives: European Union

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

Pegasus project: spyware leak suggests lawyers and activists at risk across globe

19/07/21

Rodney Dixon, a lawyer who has taken on human rights cases was selected for targeting in 2019

Leaked records show dissidents and those who help them prominent among those under threat from NSO spyware

A leak of phone data suggests human rights lawyers, activists and dissidents across the globe were selected as possible candidates for invasive surveillance through their phones.

Their mobile phone numbers appeared in leaked records, indicating they were selected prior to possible surveillance targeting by governmental clients of the Israeli company NSO Group, which developed the Pegasus spyware.

The records were obtained by the nonprofit organisation Forbidden Stories and shared with a consortium of media outlets including the Guardian.

NSO has repeatedly said Pegasus, which can access all data on a target’s device as well as turn it into an audio or video recorder, is meant for use only against terrorists and serious criminals.

The selection of activists, dissidents and journalists by NSO clients paints a very different picture, though one that campaigners will say was grimly predictable given the tool has been sold to some of the world’s most repressive regimes.

[…]

The lawyers at risk from surveillance

Lawyers also feature heavily in the leaked data.

Rodney Dixon, a prominent London-based lawyer, who has taken on numerous high-profile human rights cases, was selected for targeting in 2019. Forensic analysis of his device showed Pegasus-related activity but no successful infection.

His clients have included Matthew Hedges, a British doctoral student jailed in the UAE, and Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. She was also targeted with Pegasus, with forensics showing evidence of a successful infection.

Dixon said: “No one should be targeted in this fashion. For lawyers it is particularly concerning as it violates the fundamental principles of lawyer-client privilege and confidentiality, which are central to fair and just legal proceedings.”

Forensic analysis on the phone of the French human rights lawyer Joseph Breham shows it was compromised multiple times with Pegasus in 2019, and the leaked records suggest he had previously been selected for potential targeting by Morocco.

[…]

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/jul/19/spyware-leak-suggests-lawyers-and-activists-at-risk-across-globe

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-57881364

https://www.thequint.com/news/india/pegasus-activists-journos-lawyers-accused-in-elgar-parishad-case-also-tagged

https://www.theguardian.com/news/video/2021/jul/19/pegasus-the-spyware-technology-that-threatens-democracy-video

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1896746/world

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_(spyware)

https://www.lemonde.fr/projet-pegasus/article/2021/07/18/projet-pegasus-revelations-sur-un-systeme-mondial-d-espionnage-de-telephones_6088652_6088648.html (FRANCAIS)

https://www.lemonde.fr/projet-pegasus/article/2021/07/19/projet-pegasus-comment-la-societe-israelienne-nso-group-a-revolutionne-l-espionnage_6088692_6088648.html

https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/proche-orient/disparition-d-un-journaliste-saoudien/enquete-le-projet-pegasus-un-logiciel-espion-utilise-par-des-etats-pour-cibler-des-politiques-des-journalistes-des-avocats-y-compris-des-francais_4707199.html

Burma: Rights lawyer Salai Dawt Cung Lian killed in suspicious explosion at home

18/04/21

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https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2021/04/19/allow-myanmars-shadow-govt-to-attend-special-asean-summit-says-m-ravi-in-petition/

https://www.bnionline.net/en/news/national-unity-government-proclaimed-inclusion-ethnic-leaders-interim-cabinet

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/04/1090012

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Myanmar-Coup/Myanmar-coup-latest-EU-sanctions-2-military-linked-companies

https://apnews.com/article/race-and-ethnicity-media-yangon-social-media-myanmar-6f5b196b5ed7d1817fc5ef9ba2c0e4df

Burma: Women lawyers fight Myanmar junta on legal battlefield

12/04/21

Myanmar protesters defy military as internet curbs test resolve

Zar Li is not the same lawyer she was in January. In the “old Myanmar” she used to like hanging out in her Yangon apartment, performing a Whitney Houston song or cooking her favorite dishes. Now, under constant threat to her life, she works relentlessly under searing sun outside Yangon prisons to defend protesters against the Myanmar military regime that seized power on Feb. 1.

After joining street protests in the aftermath of the coup, Zar Li put her legal skills to use when a group of fellow ethnic Chin citizens were arrested during the demonstrations. When she went to the front gates of the infamous Insein Prison, she discovered there were dozens of families who had no idea where their sons and daughters were being held, nor knowledge of their legal rights. Zar Li quickly took action, becoming leader of a defense team for protesters.

A group of legal colleagues, mostly young women, saw her sitting outside the prison gates and asked if they could join her. “At the beginning we were three defending 200, now we are 20 lawyers defending thousands,” Zar Li told Nikkei Asia. Most of her women lawyer colleagues work for free. 

[…]

Working as a defense lawyer is a risk that many do not want to take. The 2017 killing of U Ko Ni, a lawyer who was working on changes to the 2008 military-drafted constitution, served as a chilling warning of the limits placed on civilian power even before the coup.

But for Zar Li and her colleagues, the stakes are too high to ignore. “As a lawyer, it’s an ethical requirement to stand up for justice and the rule of law. I didn’t even have to decide,” L.T. said.

It is not unusual for their group to be verbally harassed by men in uniform. L.T. talks about a recent encounter when she and her colleagues walked by a group of soldiers in Yangon.

“I saw more than 50 soldiers with their guns, relaxing, buying or robbing cigarettes and juice from a small shop. When we passed by, they started making loud comments about our bodies, like ‘Ha, good shape.’ When we tried to ignore them, we heard them say ‘uh brave.’ We were just four female lawyers with pens and paper. They were physically grown men with guns. Yes, we were very brave,” L.T. said.

Threats are very real. If roads are blocked and Zar Li is delayed in meeting her clients, they start calling her to check if she is safe. She has received death threats and was almost shot by security forces dispersing a crowd in front of a court tribunal. The sudden appearance of the soldiers posed a dilemma.

[…]

https://asia.nikkei.com/Life-Arts/Life/Women-lawyers-fight-Myanmar-junta-on-legal-battlefield

The Philippines: Recto laments ‘pandemic of unsolved killings’; calls for end of ‘dirty war,’ ‘death squads’

11/03/21

Stop the Killings in the Philippines! | Action Solidarité Tiers Monde

Senate  President Pro Tempore  Ralph  Recto on Thursday called for an end to the “dirty war” and “death squads” as he lamented the “pandemic of unsolved killings” in the Philippines.

“The dirty war should end and the death squads stopped if we want to spare our democracy from lasting damage that would take generations to fix,”  Recto said in a statement amid a  series of killings in the country involving policemen.

Nine activists were killed in simultaneous police and military operations in the Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal provinces last Sunday while the mayor of Calbayog City, Samar province, Mayor Ronaldo Aquino, was slain also by policemen the following day.

“This epidemic of unsolved killings has rocked our people’s faith in our justice system. It is bleeding from a thousand wounds caused by assassins’ bullets,” Recto went on.

“Every time a lawyer is killed, a judge waylaid, an activist executed, a mayor ambushed, a slum teenager murdered, an agent of the state silenced, it strengthens the perception that justice is elusive and crime does pay,”  he said.

Recto feared this “mass  erosion of faith  in the rule of law” would  “drive desperate people to take the law into their own hands.”

[…]

https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/779275/undue-delay-in-resolving-cases-of-attacks-vs-lawyers-bolsters-perception-of-impunity-ibp/story/

http://legacy.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2021/0310_gordon3.asp

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/03/1086782

https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3124907/philippines-bloody-sunday-killings-show-dutertes-brutal

https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/philippines/94609/eu-delegation-philippines-statement-killing-nine-activists-calabarzon-7-march-2021_en

https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/779275/undue-delay-in-resolving-cases-of-attacks-vs-lawyers-bolsters-perception-of-impunity-ibp/story/

https://www.thestar.com.my/aseanplus/aseanplus-news/2021/03/11/039arbitrary-killing039-of-philippine-activists-appalls-un-body

Iraq: Father of abducted Iraqi lawyer and activist assassinated in Amara

11/03/21

Jasb Hattab Aboud, father of the kidnapped protester Ali Jasb, cries as he holds his son's picture in his home in the town of Amara,Iraq. Aboud was shot to death Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (Photo: AP)

Unknown gunmen assassinated the father of missing Iraqi activist Ali Jaseb in Maysan province in the southern city of Amara on Wednesday.

Jaseb Aboud was attacked in the Maardh area of Amara after months of campaigning for information on the fate of his son who was kidnapped in 2019 amid an outbreak of protests in Iraq. Unidentified men on a motorcycle attacked Aboud with automatic weapons, killing him on the spot, local Iraqi media outlets quoted security sources as saying.

His son Ali Jaseb Hattab, an Iraqi lawyer and activist who took part in the demonstrations, was kidnapped on Oct. 8, 2019. Surveillance camera footage has shown that the lawyer was kidnapped on an Amara street by masked men after he was lured to the area by a woman. His family had received no information on his whereabouts.

The Maysan Police Directorate said late Wednesday that they had arrested Aboud’s killer and he was now in the custody of security forces, without giving further details.

Activist Ali Agwan said the central government was “responsible for the continuation of the assassinations, which have become the biggest threat to the activists and their families,” indicating to that “the party behind the assassinations is known to us and the government, and they are the armed militia, but the government have not arrested any of them.”

Prior to his assassination Aboud publicly accused a powerful Iran-backed militia, Ansar Allah al-Awfia, of kidnapping his son and even took the dangerous step of seeking to take its commander to court.

[…]

https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/story/24071-Father-of-abducted-Iraqi-lawyer-and-activist-assassinated-in-Amara

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/10032021

https://t4p.co/article/2021-03-10-Ali-Jaseb?lang=en

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2021/3/11/outspoken-father-of-missing-lawyer-shot-dead-in-iraq

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/resources/iraq-human-rights-lawyer-forcibly-disappeared

https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde14/1581/2019/fr/ (FRANCAIS)

Belarus: Defense Lawyer Of Belarusian Political Prisoners: If Not Me Then Who?

27/02/21

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Uladzimir Sozonchuk was disbarred, but he remained a person of principles.

The Disciplinary Commission of Minsk City Bar Association decided to deprive Uladzimir Sozonchuk, the lawyer who had taken up the defence of Belsat journalist Katsyaryna Andreyeva, blogger Dzmitry Kazlou (Grey Cat) and one of the leaders of the Belarusian opposition Mikalai Statkevich, of his license.

In an interview with Charter97, Uladzimir Sozonchuk says he does not regret his decision to defend political prisoners:

– As they say: who else if not me? It sounds a little pompous, but I can say it. On the other hand, I defended presidential candidate Dzmitry Uss in 2010. He was tried together with Statkevich. For some reason, they did not disbar me then.

[…]

– How dangerous is it for a lawyer to work with cases of political prisoners?

– Several days ago, I asked my colleague, Lyudmila Siarheeuna Kazak, “Could you imagine when you agreed to defend Maryia Kalesnikava that it would be disbarred in the end?” Lyudmila is a smart, beautiful woman. She has three children. I’m fine and have little time left before retirement. She did not answer my question specifically.

In Belarus, a lawyer who takes on the responsibility of defending political prisoners risks to be disbarred. I still have my license, but there is no piece of hope to keep it after the appeal.

There is little threat of it if one keeps silent, agree, and at the end of the investigation write some complaints, which aren’t satisfied. If one tries to seek justice, cooperate with the media to inform people, it is clear how it ends.

– In particular, you have taken up the cases of Katsyaryna Andreyeva, Dzmitry Kazlou and Mikalai Statkevich. What could you say about these people?

– Yesterday, I said to the second lawyer [Siarhei Zikratski – ed.] of Katya: “Seryozha, send my greetings and support. Tell her that I am proud to meet such a smart, beautiful, nice girl, a worthy citizen of the Republic of Belarus”. I can say the same about my other clients, Mikalai Statkevich and Dzmitry Kazlou.

– Why do the authorities fight with lawyers?

– The authorities are fighting with everyone. Lawyers are as decent specialists as medical professionals, journalists, and two Katsyaryna. The authorities do their best to muzzle the voice of those who try to educate people and fight against the system.

[…]

https://charter97.org/en/news/2021/2/26/412797/

Belarus: Four Belarusian lawyers stand to lose licenses

20/02/21

Belarusian Lawyers Describe Living in a Soviet-Era Nightmare – Courthouse  News Service

Qualification Commission at the Ministry of Justice has terminated the licenses of lawyers Kanstantsin Mikhel, Mikhail Kiryliuk, Maksim Konan and Liudmila Kazak, Mediazona reports.

The reasoning behind this decision is unknown. The basis for the review of Kanstantsin Mikhel‘s license was his administrative arrest (14 days) under Article 23.34 in November 2020. Maksim Konan is in the same situation: he served 12 days in October. In the case of Liudmila Kazak, lawyer of Maryia Kalesnikava, the formal cause was an administrative case under Article 23.4 (“Disobedience to the lawful demand of an official”).

Mikhail Kiryliuk, a member of the Coordination Council, is not in Belarus at the moment – his interests were represented at the commission by Siarhei Zikratski. His license was terminated because of “inappropriate expressions towards representatives of the state bodies”.

The final decision will be made by the board of the Ministry of Justice at the beginning of next week. For now, the lawyers are still entitled to engage in their activities.

Click to access EN_HRL_20210226_Belarus_Judicial-harassment-and-detention-of-lawyer-Aleh-Hrableuski.pdf

https://www.omct.org/en/resources/statements/belarus-international-investigation-mechanism-needed

http://www.avocatparis.org/belarus-4-avocats-consideres-comme-genants-radies-du-barreau (FRANCAIS)

No photo description available.
No photo description available.

Sri Lanka: Principal of Madrasa School arrested over links to Hejaaz

17/02/21

AG charges Hejaaz Hizbullah under PTA and ICCPR Act

The principal of a Madrasa School has been arrested over links to Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah.

Attorney General Dappula de Livera had earlier directed Inspector General of Police (IGP) C.D Wickremeratne to report facts and produce the Principal of the Madrasa School,  Mohammed Shakeel before the relevant Magistrate’s Court for allegedly abetting Hejaaz Hizbullah on charges under section 2 (1) (h) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act.

Accordingly, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) arrested Mohammed Shakeel.

Earlier today, the AG directed the IGP to report facts on the case linked to detained human rights activist and Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah.

The AG’s Coordinating Officer State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne told Colombo Gazette that IGP C. D. Wickremeratne was further directed to produce Hizbullah before the relevant Magistrate’s Court.

Hizbullah will be presented in Court on charges filed under Section 2(1) (h) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and Section 3(1) of the International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights (ICCPR) Act.

The human rights lawyer has been held at the Criminal Investigation Department headquarters in Colombo since his arrest on 14 April 2020, with restricted access to his lawyers, family and wife.

Hizbullah was arrested on charges of allegedly “aiding and abetting” one of the bombers involved in the 2019 Easter Sunday terror attacks.

Many, including the European UnionAmnesty International, and nearly 150 lawyers in Sri Lanka had raised concerns over Hejaaz Hizbullah’s detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act without sufficient evidence.

Last month, Attorney General Dappula de Livera had agreed to grant Hizbullah access to his lawyers.

http://www.adaderana.lk/news/71639/ag-charges-hejaaz-hizbullah-under-pta-and-iccpr-act

http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/AG-instructs-IGP-to-produce-Hejaaz-Hizbullah-in-court/108-206003

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/02/sri-lanka-government-suffocating-dissent-and-obstructing-justice-for-historic-crimes-says-amnesty-report/

https://www.amnesty.fr/presse/sri-lanka-le-gouvernement-touffe-la-contestation-e (FRANCAIS)

Burma: Over 40 Mandalay lawyers face prosecutions for joining Myanmar protests

16/02/21

Lawsuits are reportedly underway against about 40 lawyers who staged an anti-coup protest in Mandalay city under Section 505 (b) of the penal code of Myanmar, according to sources from the legal community.

Complaints are being filed at courts to charge the lawyers with sedition for their participation in the protests against the military coup on Feb 1.

“We heard that complaints have been lodged to Chanayethazan Township Court to sue the 40 lawyers under Section 505 (b) of the penal code. I don’t know if I am included or not, ” said a local advocate in Mandalay.

Sources from the judicial circle also say that other township courts are receiving complaints to sue the lawyers who joined the ongoing protests under section 505 (b) and Section 188, which is related to violating Section 144. –

[…]

https://www.thestar.com.my/aseanplus/aseanplus-news/2021/02/16/over-40-mandalay-lawyers-face-lawsuits-for-joining-myanmar-protests

https://news.yahoo.com/myanmar-coup-protesters-face-20-084534909.html

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2021/02/16/645391/Myanmar-military-denies-coup,-files-extra-charge-against-Suu-Kyi

https://www.dw.com/en/myanmar-coup-aung-san-suu-kyi-faces-new-charge/a-56583238