Tag Archives: FIDH

Urgent appeal: Rights organizations call on Lebanese authorities to cease the intimidation of human rights lawyer Mohammed Sablouh

12/10/21

Human rights organizations are gravely concerned by the Lebanese authorities’ recent attempts to silence and discredit Mohammed Sablouh, a human rights lawyer defending victims of torture and Syrian refugees facing deportation. The actions of the Lebanese authorities represent an unacceptable infringement on the work of lawyers and other human rights defenders, in light of Lebanon’s ongoing failure to meet its legal obligations to prevent and punish the use of torture and to abide by the principle of non-refoulement.

Mohammed Sablouh is a Lebanese lawyer and the director of the Prisoners’ Rights Center at the Tripoli Bar Association. For nearly 15 years, he has been documenting cases of torture and other ill-treatment in Lebanese detention facilities and advocating on behalf of victims both at the domestic and international levels. Recently, Sablouh’s work exposing the torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners in the Military Police prison in Beirut, at the Fakhr El-Din barrack (Ramla al-Bayda), and his advocacy against the forcible deportation of Syrian refugees garnered significant media coverage in the Lebanese press. As a result, he has been subjected to abusive legal challenges and other forms of intimidation, particularly from the General Security Directorate and the Military Prosecution.

On 23 September 2021, the Government’s Commissioner to the Military Court, Judge Fadi Akiki and the Military Police, pressured one of Sablouh’s clients, a detainee in the Fakhr El-Din facility, to testify that Sablouh’s allegations of torture were fabricated, according to family members. On 28 September, the Military Prosecution sent a letter to the Tripoli Bar Association requesting the authorization to prosecute Sablouh under article 403 of the Lebanese Penal Code, which penalizes false accusations. This request indicates that the Lebanese authorities are initiating retaliatory legal proceedings against Sablouh in an attempt to discredit his legally sanctioned work documenting instances of torture.

By obstructing the work of lawyers, Lebanon is violating its own laws and criminal procedures as well as its international human rights obligations. The UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers requires governments to ensure that lawyers “are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference” and that they “shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.” On 8 October, Sablouh’s case was submitted to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the independence of judges and lawyers and on human rights defenders.

Call to action

We, the undersigned national and international human rights organizations, call on Lebanon to respect the work of lawyers and others advocating on behalf of victims of torture and to  adhere to its legal obligations to prevent and punish the use of torture.

We call on the Lebanese authorities, and particularly the Military Prosecution and the General Security Directorate, to:

[…]

https://menarights.org/en/articles/coalition-human-rights-organizations-call-lebanese-authorities-cease-intimidation-human

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/north-africa-middle-east/lebanon/lebanon-cease-the-intimidation-of-human-rights-lawyer-mohammed

China: Acts of torture against detained rights lawyer Chang Weiping

17/09/21

China Change » An Open Letter to the People's Republic of China Ministry of  Public Security and Minister Zhao Kezhi

[…]

The Observatory has been informed by the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) about the acts of torture and ill-treatment perpetrated against Chang Weiping, a prominent human rights lawyer known for taking on sensitive human rights cases and filling lawsuits against companies for discrimination in the workplace against women, LGBTQ+ persons, and individuals affected by HIV/AIDs.

On September 14, 2021, Chang Weiping was allowed to meet his lawyer for the first time since his arbitrary arrest on October 22, 2020. During the meeting, which took place at the Feng County Detention Centre, in the area of Baoji City, Shaanxi Province, Chang Weiping reported having been subjected to numerous forms of physical and psychological torture in the six-month period he spent under “residential surveillance in a designated location” (RSDL), a form of enforced disappearance [1] , from October 2020 to April 2021. Chang Weiping was subjected to the “tiger chair” [2] for six consecutive days, subjected to sleep deprivation, placed under 24 hours video surveillance, denied food and allowed to shower only five times during the six-month period. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Chang Weiping remained detained at the Feng County Detention Centre, at high risk of renewed acts of torture.

The Observatory recalls that Chang Weiping was arrested on October 22, 2020 at his home in Fengxiang County, Shaanxi Province, by police officers from Baoji City. Later the same day, Chang Weiping’s wife received a phone call from a police officer who informed her that her husband had been placed under RSDL. Following his detention, the Baoji City Public Security Bureau denied two separate requests presented by Chang Weiping’s lawyers to meet with their client. Furthermore, one of the lawyers was informed that Chang Weiping was suspected of “subversion of State power” and that the case involved “State secrets”.

Six days before his arrest, on October 16, 2020, Chang Weiping had published a video statement on social media denouncing the physical and psychological torture he had been subjected to while in detention under RSDL from January 12 to 21, 2020, including being tied to a “tiger chair”. Arrested on charges of “subversion of State power” (Article 105(1) of China’s Criminal Law), Chang Weiping was released on bail pending trial on January 21, 2020. Nonetheless, he was requested to leave his city of residence and was confined to his family home in Baoji, where he remained under strict police scrutiny, including daily phone calls and weekly meetings with the police. Furthermore, he was prevented from being reunited with his family.

[…]

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/china-acts-of-torture-against-detained-hrd-chang-weiping

https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/43060

https://www.facebook.com/Free-Chang-Weiping-%E5%B8%B8%E7%8E%AE%E5%B9%B3-107416584492421/

https://www.thestandard.com.hk/section-news/section/11/234188/Albert-Ho-lets-go-of-alliances

https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1610339-20210913.htm

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One Of Russia’s Top Human Rights Lawyers Flees To Georgia

07/09/21

"The bans were not related to one thing only -- the possibility to leave the country," lawyer Ivan Safronov said.

One of Russia’s top human rights lawyers, who is representing jailed journalist Ivan Safronov, has left the country after the authorities opened a case against him for allegedly disclosing classified information about his client’s case.

Ivan Pavlov wrote on Telegram on September 7 that he was in Georgia as “restrictions imposed on me over the probe have gradually made my work impossible.”

“I was barred from using communication tools and the Internet, talk to my clients and some of my colleagues. In general, I was forbidden from doing the things that a lawyer needs to do to be effective. The bans were not related to one thing only — the possibility to leave the country. That was a sign showing the way out,” Pavlov wrote, adding that he plans to return to Russia in the future.

Pavlov became a suspect in a criminal case on the disclosure of data with regard to Safronov’s case in April. He has rejected the accusation, calling it politically motivated.

Safronov, a former adviser to the head of Russia’s space agency Roskosmos and a one-time journalist, was arrested and charged with high treason in July 2020 on allegations that he had passed secret information to the Czech Republic in 2017 about Russian arms sales in the Middle East.

Safronov has rejected the accusations against him and many of his supporters have held pickets demanding his release, saying that all case materials have been deemed classified as part of the cover-up.

Russian authorities have launched a massive crackdown on dissent in recent months, jailing dozens of opposition members, activists, and regular citizens under the guise of charges widely considered to be falsified.

[…]

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-safronov-lawyer-flees/31448054.html

https://www.reuters.com/world/top-human-rights-lawyer-leaves-russia-citing-criminal-case-against-him-2021-09-07/

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/russia-judicial-harassment-of-human-rights-lawyer-ivan-pavlov

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Pavlov_(lawyer)

Belarus: Trial of Viasna’s Homieĺ members set for September 3

23/08/21

Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa and Maryia Tarasenka

Human rights defender of Viasna Leanid Sudalenka and volunteer Tatsiana Lasitsa have been detained in remand prison No. 3 in Homieĺ for seven months. They are accused of organizing and financing actions that grossly violated public order (Parts 1 and 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code). Volunteer Maryia Tarasenka, who is free but under travel restrictions, is another defendant in the trial, which is expected to start on September 3 at the Centraĺny District Court of Homieĺ. The criminal charges against the three activists will be heard by judge Siarhei Salouski.

What are the charges?

The key charge Sudalenka is facing is reimbursing the fines imposed on peaceful protesters after the rigged election of August 2020. He and the two Viasna volunteers also helped numerous people find lawyers to defend them in protest-related trials. Among other things, Leanid Sudalenka is accused of purchasing firewood to help a family, whose father was later convicted of “rioting” and appearing in a YouTube video to explain what a people’s protest is.

The human rights activist has been in the pre-trial detention center since January 18. Tatsiana Lasitsa has been in custody since January 21. Maryia Tarasenko was briefly detained, but soon released. The charges against her, however, remained in place.

More than 200 witnesses were interviewed in the case. The case file contains 77 volumes.

Judge Siarhei Salouski is known for being the top-convicting judge in the post-election administrative trials. Salouski ordered a total of over three months in prison.

In 2020, Salouski twice fined journalist Larysa Shchyrakova for reporting for Belsat TV.

Last July, Leanid Sudalenka helped Valery Smiayan, a man fined by Salouski for staging a peaceful protest to support arrested activist Siarhei Tsikhanouski, to submit a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee. It is obvious that the judge is not impartial towards Sudalenka.

Why is the case against Viasna’s activists in Homieĺ politically motivated?

Leanid Sudalenka is a well-known human rights activist, who has been defending human rights for twenty years. He provided free legal assistance, including the preparation of individual complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee to challenge violations by the Belarusian authorities. For his human rights activities, Sudalenka received the French award “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”. In 2019, he was awarded the National Human Rights Prize in the nomination “Human Rights Defender of the Year”.

The Belarusian authorities have regularly persecuted Leanid Sudalenka for his active human rights work. They staged unsuccessful provocations to prosecute him, searched him at the state border, and tried to discredit him through publications in state-controlled media.

[…]

https://spring96.org/en/news/104744

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/europe-central-asia/belarus/belarus-months-after-arbitrary-detention-viasna-s-members-must-be

https://www.omct.org/en/resources/urgent-interventions/belarus-upcoming-trial-of-leanid-sudalenka-tatsiana-lasitsa-and-maria-tarasenka

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/belarus-arbitrary-detention-of-viasna-members-leanid-sudalenka-and-26489

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/leonid-sudalenko

https://www.fidh.org/fr/regions/europe-asie-centrale/belarus/resolution-de-l-onu-sur-le-belarus-valiantsin-stefanovic-viasna-27131 (FRANCAIS)

Belarus tightens grip on lawyers

23/08/21

Belarusian lawyer Mikhail Kirilyuk sits during an interview with Reuters in Warsaw, Poland June 15, 2021. REUTERS/Kuba Stezycki

Belarusian lawyer Mikhail Kirilyuk says he received an unsettling text message in October from an acquaintance linked to the country’s security services.

The acquaintance urged Kirilyuk, who had defended anti-government protesters and publicly criticised President Alexander Lukashenko’s rule, to leave the country. According to Kirilyuk, who said the text was sent via an encrypted messaging app and described its content to Reuters, the message also contained a warning: The attorney faced arrest and revocation of his license to practice law.

Kirilyuk left that month with his parents and young children for Poland, which has long been critical of Lukashenko. In February, the justice ministry revoked Kirilyuk’s license, according to an April Minsk court document relating to his unsuccessful appeal. The ministry said in a February press release that Kirilyuk had made “unacceptable” public statements that contained “rude” and “tactless” comments about state representatives, without identifying them.

Speaking with Reuters from Warsaw, 38-year-old Kirilyuk said he believed the action against him was politically motivated because of who he had represented and his public critical comments. He said he left because he “didn’t want to get arrested” and that he won’t return home until Lukashenko is out of office.

Kirilyuk’s account fits with what more than half a dozen Belarusian lawyers as well as international organizations representing the profession and human-rights groups say is a pattern of intimidation and suppression of attorneys by Belarusian authorities. Those actions include criminal and disciplinary proceedings against lawyers and disbarment, they say.

Seven lawyers interviewed by Reuters say their licenses were removed after defending protesters, speaking out against authorities or resisting what they said was pressure on their profession. Several of them allege that authorities monitored confidential client meetings or obstructed their work. Reuters was unable to independently corroborate their assertions or the text message described by Kirilyuk.

[…]

https://www.nippon.com/en/news/reu20210823KBN2FO0RY/belarus-tightens-grip-on-lawyers.html

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/belarus-tightens-grip-lawyers-2021-08-23/

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/europe-central-asia/belarus/belarus-months-after-arbitrary-detention-viasna-s-members-must-be

Afghanistan/Germany: Lawyers and rights activists at risk in Afghanistan

16/08/21

Germany may need to evacuate as many as 10,000 people from Afghanistan, Chancellor Angela Merkel told party colleagues on Monday, according to party sources.

That includes 2,500 Afghan support staff as well as human rights activists, lawyers and others whom the government sees being at risk if they remain in the country after the Taliban seized Kabul.

[…]

https://thepostman24.com/worldwide_Germany_Markel_afghanistan

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/126084845/amnesty-international-urges-government-to-do-all-it-can-to-help-those-caught-in-afghanistan

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/save-our-afghan-colleagues-urges-united-profession/5109538.article

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/fears-for-female-judges-in-afghanistan/5109533.article

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/afghanistan-foreign-affairs-ministers-must-protect-human-rights

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/germany-must-evacuate-10000-people-afghanistan-merkel-tells-party-2021-08-16/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/08/13/afghanistan-risk-civilians-need-evacuation-protection

https://texasnewstoday.com/the-taliban-are-poised-to-impose-sharia-law-in-afghanistan-threatening-bidens-professed-fighters/415252/

https://www.foreignbrief.com/daily-news/taliban-to-declare-islamic-emirate-of-afghanistan/

https://www.abogacia.es/actualidad/noticias/la-abogacia-espanola-extremadamente-preocupada-por-la-situacion-en-afganistan/ (ESPANOL)

#saveafghanistan

#sosafghanistan

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Egypt: Global Coalition Calls for Release of Detained Human Rights Lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer

20/07/21

Today, on the occasion of lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer’s 41st birthday, we, the undersigned organizations, urge the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him and strike his name from the ‘’terrorist list.’’

Mohamed El-Baqer is a human rights lawyer and the founder and director of the Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms. He has been arbitrarily detained for more than 21 months without charge or trial, simply for his human rights work. El-Baqer has a long history of defending individuals whose rights have been violated, including civilians tried before military courts, protesters, and members of marginalized communities, including religious and ethnic minorities. The organization he founded focuses on criminal justice, the right to education, and minority rights. 

On 29 September 2019, El-Baqer was arrested while representing his client, imprisoned human rights activist and blogger Alaa Abdelfattah, who was detained and being interrogated by the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). During Abdelfattah’s questioning, a prosecutor informed El-Baqer that he too was under arrest pending investigations into unfounded accusations of “joining a terrorist group,” “funding a terrorist group,” “disseminating false news undermining national security,” and “us[ing] social media to commit a publishing offense” in Case No. 1356/2019.

Nearly one year later, on 30 August 2020, El-Baqer was brought in for questioning and added to Case No. 855/2020 on nearly identical charges, in a practice by Egyptian authorities commonly known as ‘’rotation.’’ This new case includes other arbitrarily detained human rights defenders and activists such as blogger Mohamed “Oxygen”, journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah, and activist Mahienour El-Masry

Then, on 23 November 2020, the Official Gazette published the decision of the Cairo Criminal Court to include El-Baqer on the “terrorists list” for five years as a part of an entirely different case, No. 1781/2019. As a result of this designation, El-Baqer is subject to a travel ban, his assets are frozen, and he is prohibited from engaging in political or civic work for five years. In all three cases, El-Baqer has been denied due process, including the right to present a defense and challenge the lawfulness of his detention, or in Case No. 1781/2019, even be informed that he was under investigation. 

The news about El-Baqer’s “terrorists list” designation coincided with the announcement by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) that El-Baqer and six other imprisoned Egyptian lawyers had been awarded the 2020 Human Rights Award.

The fact that El-Baqer was arrested while representing his client and that he faces the same charges as his client, thus being identified with his client’s case, is contrary to Principle 18 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and shows the severity of the crackdown on human rights lawyers in Egypt. Attacks against lawyers have escalated in recent years and have included instances of arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearances, and numerous forms of harassment and intimidation. 

[…]

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/north-africa-middle-east/egypt/egypt-global-coalition-calls-for-release-of-detained-human-rights

https://euromedrights.org/publication/release-detained-egyptian-human-rights-lawyer-mohamed-el-baqer/

Click to access EN_20210726_Global-Coalition-Calls-for-Release-of-Detained-Egyptian-Human-Rights-Lawyer-Mohamed-El.pdf

(FRANCAIS)
(ESPANOL)

(ITALIANO)

The Philippines: Thorough probe ordered on sniper attack on female lawyer, husband in Davao City

21/07/21

Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), has ordered a thorough investigation on the assassination of a female lawyer and her husband who were shot by a sniper outside their house in Davao City.

Eleazar said the use of sniper in the killing of Hilda Mahinay-Sapie and her husband Muhaimen Mohammad Sapie on July 14 was an indication that it was well-planned.

It was the female lawyer who was first shot after she was asked to check on her vehicle. Her husband was also shot dead when he went out to check on her wife who was then slumped in front of their house.

“It was well-planned that it why we are focusing on all the possible motive of the attack and the people who planned this incident,” said Eleazar.

Authorities said the couple just finished their radio program when the crime happened.

Eleazar expressed confidence that this case would be resolved in no time.

“In the meantime, let us wait for the result of the investigation. I am confident that this will be resolved,” said Eleazar.

The Davao City police has said they are looking at all possible angles for the crime, including the cases on land disputes which were handled by the victims.

Authorities already obtained a CCTV footage which could be of help in the investigation.

https://www.philstar.com/nation/2021/07/21/2114069/pnp-begins-probe-fatal-shooting-davao-lawyers

https://www.rappler.com/nation/no-special-probe-team-lawyers-killed-duterte-administration

https://www.rappler.com/nation/lawyers-should-strike-demand-supreme-court-actions-abuses

https://cnnphilippines.com/regional/2021/7/20/Davao-City-police-investigate-killing-lawyer-husband.html

https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/regions/796191/cctv-footage-in-killing-of-lawyer-husband-in-davao-city-now-with-authorities-pnp/story/

https://www.rappler.com/nation/cops-face-blank-wall-on-killing-of-lawyer-husband-in-davao-city

https://www.fidh.org/en/international-advocacy/united-nations/human-rights-council/hrc46-joint-statement-philippines-duterte-s-administration-should-be

https://www.rfi.fr/en/philippines-top-court-rules-icc-has-jurisdiction

Concerns about access to the legal profession and increasing disbarments of lawyers in Turkey

19/07/21

Concerns about access to the legal profession and increasing disbarments of lawyers in Turkey

In a joint statement, Lawyers for Lawyers, AIJA – International Association of Young Lawyers, the Institute for the Rule of Law of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA-IROL), the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, The Law Society of England and Wales, and The Netherlands Helsinki Committee express concern about access to the legal profession and the increasing number of disbarments in Turkey.

We, the undersigned organizations, have long been deeply concerned about the increasingly challenging and hostile environment  in which  lawyers in Turkey have had to operate since the state of emergency following the attempted coup in July 2016. Lawyers have been subjected to judicial harassment, including mass arrests, raids, violent attacks, threats, surveillance, illegitimate criminal charges, unfair trials and harsh sentences in disregard of the most basic principles of the rule of law.

We are worried about another tool used by the government to further target and pressure lawyers, by preventing individuals who are being investigated, prosecuted or dismissed by emergency decrees which have now become part of the permanent law, from enrolling in law apprenticeships or obtaining their license to practice law.[i] This systematic practice has increased considerably since the state of emergency.[ii] We are also alarmed about the growing number of lawyers who have seen their licenses to practice law annulled on the same grounds.

[…]

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/turkey-ongoing-judicial-harassment-of-human-rights-lawyer-eren-keskin

https://www.amnesty.fr/liberte-d-expression/actualites/les-11-distanbul-une-affaire-emblematique-de-la-repression-en-turquie (FRANCAIS)

Iran/Kurdistan: Sanandaj / Detention of a Kurdish lawyer in order to execute a court order

16/07/21

Sanandaj / Detention of a Kurdish lawyer in order to execute a court order

On Wednesday, July 14, Farhad Mohammadi, a lawyer of the  Judiciary, was arrested and sent to Sanandaj Central Prison to serve his sentence of 10 months in prison.

Farhad Mohammadi was arrested by the Sanandaj Intelligence News Headquarters on January 2, 2019 and was transferred to Sanandaj Central Prison on May 25, after completing his interrogation. 


On July 9, 2019 was temporarily released on bail of 500 million tomans and  and his attorney’s case has been suspended.


Mohammadi was sentenced by a Sanandaj Revolutionary Court to 4 years in prison in March, but his sentence was reduced to ten months in prison on appeal for acting against national security.

https://hana-hr.org/content/20210715-sanandaj-detention-of-a-kurdish-lawyer-in-order-to-execute-a-court-order

https://hana-hr.org/content/20210716-sanandaj-a-kurdish-lawyer-was-sentenced-to-10-months-in-prison-for-political-activity

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/iran-judicial-harassment-and-arbitrary-detention-of-3-human-rights