Tag Archives: Front Line Defenders

Chinese Rights Lawyer Stands Trial After Four Years’ Pretrial Detention


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.


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.





Hong Kong: Arrests under security law are serious concern, UN experts call for review 


Hong Kong, Chine. Le 05septembre 2021. Les vice-présidentes de l'Alliance  de Hong Kong pour le soutien des mouvements démocratiques patriotiques de  Chine Chow Hang-Tung ont publiquement rejeté la demande d'information de la

UN human rights experts* expressed deep concern about the arrest of Hong Kong pro-democracy activist and woman human rights defender Chow Hang-Tung on charges of “incitement to subversion” and being a foreign agent, and urged authorities to refrain from the use of the National Security Law and reconsider its application.

Ms. Chow, a human rights lawyer, was arrested on 8 September 2021. She was a member of the Hong Kong Alliance, an advocacy group which organised the annual candlelight vigil marking the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square. Several other activists have been similarly arrested and charged under the National Security Law.

“Terrorism and sedition charges are being improperly used to stifle the exercise of fundamental rights, which are protected under international law, including freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to participate in public affairs,” the experts said.

The experts have communicated in detailed written analysis their concerns to the Government of the People’s Republic of China about the National Security Law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region highlighting the law’s fundamental incompatibility with international law and with China’s human rights obligations.

The experts also raised their concerns over the qualification of “foreign agent” under the National Security Law, in which reference is made to funding received from foreign governments and activities benefitting them. The experts called on the Government to ensure that associations can seek, receive and use funding from foreign or international sources, without undue impediments.






https://www.rfi.fr/cn/%E4%B8%AD%E5%9B%BD/20211012-%E8%81%94%E5%90%88%E5%9B%BD%E4%BA%BA%E6%9D%83%E4%B8%93%E5%AE%B6%E5%AF%B9%E9%A6%99%E6%B8%AF%E6%A0%B9%E6%8D%AE%E5%9B%BD%E5%AE%89%E6%B3%95%E5%AE%9E%E6%96%BD%E9%80%AE%E6%8D%95%E8%A1%A8%E8%BE%BE%E5%85%B3%E5%88%87 (CHINESE)

https://www.notimerica.com/politica/noticia-china-onu-pide-hong-kong-reconsidere-ley-seguridad-nacional-20211013075949.html (ESPANOL)

Venezuela: Intimidation and threat of arrest against rights lawyers Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas and Engels Puertas


On 6 October 2021, a judge and a prosecutor of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Criminal Judicial Circuit of the state of Merida in Venezuela threatened to order the arrest of human rights lawyers Engels Puertas and Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas, accusing them of defamation. The threat was made in the middle of a trial in which Engels Puertas and Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas were acting as legal representatives on the defence team.

Engels Puertas is a lawyer and human rights defender. For more than six years he has been defending people who have been incriminated in unjust criminal proceedings. Engels is also a member of the legal team in the organisation 100% Estrogen, where he works on cases with a gender perspective. He also directs the organisation Iniciativa Para Una Justicia Igualitaria, where he works alongside lawyer and human rights defender Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas, who has been litigating in defence of human rights, specifically in favour of the right to a legitimate defence of victims and the right to due process of their defendants.

Human rights lawyers Engels Puertas and Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas are part of the defence team of the case of 2 individuals who were arbitrarily detained and allegedly tortured in prison. The case has been ongoing for over 5 years. On 6 October 2021, when the case was being heard before the Criminal Judicial Circuit of the state of Merida, Engels Puertas and Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas were threatened by the prosecutor one day after they recused and denounced the judge presiding over the case in the Venezuelan General Inspectorate of Courts for alleged violations of due process. The judge in question declared the accusations by the human rights defenders inadmissible and threatened to file a complaint against them in order to remove them from the case and inhibit their work as defence lawyers. The judge, while deciding to continue the trial and ignoring the complaint against him, has appointed other public lawyers to represent the defendants, ignoring their appeal to continue with their lawyers.




https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/es/case/intimidation-and-threat-arrest-against-human-rights-lawyers-juan-carlos-barroeta-rivas-and (ESPANOL)

10 rights groups stand in solidarity with members of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms referred to Emergency Court


Ten human rights organizations today said they stood in full solidarity with leaders and members of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, whose trial begins this Saturday, 11 September, before an Emergency State Security Criminal Court, over charges relating solely to their peaceful work in defense of victims of torture, arbitrary detention, forced disappearances and the arbitrary deprivation of the right to life.

The case (no. 1552/2018) includes 31 defendants, 14 of whom are currently in custody. While the Supreme State Security Prosecution have accused all defendants of leadership, membership or support of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, the prosecution singled out four individuals for the charge of documenting and exposing rights violations via the social media accounts of the Coordination. The four include lawyer  and former member of the State-affilaited National Council for Human Rights Hoda Abdel-Moneim; lawyer and executive director of the Coordination Ezzat Ghoneim; and lawyer Mohamed Abu-Horaira and his wife Aisha Al-Shatir. 

According to the indictment order, issued on 23 August, the four members of the Coordination are charged with “using websites to promote ideas incting the commission of terror acts, by using Facebook, Twitter and Youtube under the name of the Egyptian Coordination for Human Rights to spread alleged notions of: the involvment of the police in illegal detentions, killings, torture and the use of force; the deilberate withholding of medical care for prisoners; the complicity of judicial authorities with regard to complaints submitted about these violatons and holding their perpetrator accountable; the issuing of death sentences without evidence; and the lack of fairness guarantees in criminal trials; all with the intent of advocating the use of force and violence against state institutions in orer to disturb public order, undermine society’s safety and security, and harm national unity and social peace.”

Moreover, the four have been indicted for “publicly broadcasting, domestically and abroad, false news and statements about the internal affairs of the country, via the official accounts of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms on Facebook and Twitter, and video clips on a channel using the same name on YouTube…which had the effect of weakening the resolve of the state, disturbing public security, causing terror among people, and harming public and national interests.”  

The 10 undersigned human rights organizations consider both charges levelled against colleagues at the Coordination to be at the heart of legitimate defense of human rights, both a right and a duty, and fall under the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression guaranteed under the Egyptian Constitution as well as international law. 





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


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

Afghanistan: Lawyer Latifa Sharifi from the Afghan women’s rights organisation Hawca rejected at Kabul airport



Afghan lawyer Latifa Sharifi, a member of the Hawca association, whose main aim is to protect women’s rights, has already received several open death threats in the past. On 15 August, she tried to leave Afghanistan but was turned away at Kabul airport.

Latifa Sharifi is an Afghan lawyer who has specialised in women’s rights since 2009. She is a lawyer for Hawca, a historic Afghan women’s association. In particular, she assists women victims of domestic violence in divorce proceedings and for this reason she has received many threats and intimidations.

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera published on 19 August 2021 the news of the lawyer’s refoulement at Kabul airport, where she had gone on Sunday 15 August, with her husband and children, in an attempt to flee abroad. The article also reveals the content of a letter she had written to her sister who lives in America, which is a real call for help. The lawyer was reportedly harassed while taking her children to school, stones were thrown at the windows of her house and in 2017 she received a blood-stained letter stating “the next one will be written in your son’s blood”. Latifa Sharifi then had to move and work in hiding. A few years ago, in an interview, she denounced the fact that after the fall of the Taliban, it was difficult for women to denounce the violence suffered by their husbands in a country where sons after the age of 7 and daughters from the age of 9 are legally entrusted to their father. Extreme forms of rebellion by women, such as immolation, were recorded in Afghanistan.

The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger follows with great concern the evolution of the situation in Afghanistan, and calls for the guarantee of humanitarian corridors, in particular for women and minors and for those, including lawyers, who have fought for the respect of human rights. The IADO demands that the lawyer Latifa Sharifi be immediately allowed to leave Afghanistan with her family and seek political asylum.










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Tajikistan: Court rejects cassation appeal for Abdulmajid Rizoev



On 11 August 2021, the Dushanbe City Court rejected the cassation appeal to review Abdulmajid Rizoev’s case, which the human rights defender’s lawyer applied for on 16 July 2021. On 14 June 2021, human rights defender Abdulmajid Rizoev was sentenced to 5 years and 6 months’ imprisonment for “public calls for performance of an extremist activity made using the mass media or the Internet” under Part 2, Article 307.1 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan. The human rights defender has been detained in centre No.1 in Dushanbe since his arrest on 18 November 2020.

On 14 June 2021, the Shokhmansur District Court of Dushanbe sentenced human rights defender Abdulmajid Rizoev to 5 years and 6 months’ imprisonment for “public calls for performance of an extremist activity made using the mass media or the Internet” under Part 2, Article 307.1 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan.

Human rights defender Abdulmajid Rizoev is currently facing trial on accusations of “public calls for performance of an extremist activity made using the mass media or the Internet” in relation to his work providing legal defense for residents in Dushanbe who have been evicted from their homes due to a new construction project taking place in the city. If convicted, the human rights defender could face up to 5 years’ imprisonment. Abdulmajid Rizoev is currently being held at the detention centre #1 in Dushanbe.

Abdulmajid Rizoev is a human rights defender and a lawyer, and was formerly a member of the Association of Young Lawyers “Amparo”, which was forcibly dissolved in 2012. As part of his human rights work, Abdulmajid Rizoev has been monitoring human rights violations occurring within the Tajikistan military during conscription and military service, and providing legal consultation to conscripts and soldiers, including those who have been subjected to physical and psychological abuse as new recruits in the army. In recent years, he has also been actively involved in defending the rights of residents in Dushanbe whose homes are to be demolished due to new construction projects underway. The defender provides the residents with legal representation, lodges complaints on their behalf and informs them of their rights to compensation and resettlement.



Lawyers detained in China over courtroom video of prosecutor admitting errors


Zhou Xiaoyun. Photo: Weibo

Known for his signature look of dark glasses and a surgical mask, investigative journalist-turned-lawyer Zhou Xiaoyun appears to have been detained over a courtroom video posted online more than a year ago.

The public security bureau of the city of Panjin in the northeastern province of Liaoning, said on Thursday it had detained Zhou, as well as Chengdu-based lawyer Nie Min, on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, a catch-all offence often used by authorities to muzzle dissent.

“The lawyers Nie and Zhou were jointly planning, Nie provided materials, [their client] provided remuneration to Zhou … and [he] published and spread fabricated false information on the internet at home and abroad,” the bureau said in a statement published on its official account on Weibo, an online microblogging platform.

Zhou’s detention in Panjin is connected to his role as a defence lawyer for a group of men accused by the bureau of being loan sharks.

The case opened in June 2020 and the trial drew public attention because of a prosecutor’s statements in court, which were recorded and uploaded to the Chinese courts’ official website for live-streaming trials.

In clips posted online in June 2020, the prosecutor admitted to several procedural errors during the trial and said “the ability and level of our investigators may not have reached the level required by [the] defendants”.

“We are Panjin, we are not a first- or second-tier city,” the prosecutor said.

In the video, prosecutor Sun Wang says: “Among judicial organs, accepting bribes and not getting work done precisely shows that the judicial staff have guaranteed their moral bottom line.”

Beijing-based lawyer Wei Rujiu wrote on WeChat that Zhou posted the clip online and this was the reason for Zhou’s detention, as well as that of Nie.

Wei’s post has since been circulated by many lawyers in China and abroad.














China: Lawyer’s Account of Meeting With Detained Civil Rights Activist Ding Jiaxi


July 13, 2021, a summer day in Beijing. The sun was emerging after a rain shower. I waded through puddles on the road heading for Beijing South Railway Station.

It was getting pretty late when the high-speed train arrived in Linyi. Getting off the train, I ran into a former colleague whom I hadn’t seen for years but had long wanted to meet. Whether by a heartfelt wish or divine coincidence, it is such crossing of paths, accidental or planned, that fill life with richness. On this trip, I was to go to Linshu County Detention Center in Linyi City to meet Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜). Having been accused of subverting state power, he has been detained for more than a year and six months. I know Linyi because of a blind citizen who years ago was imprisoned, and placed under house arrest after being released from prison, for helping victims of China’s violent birth control policy.

On the morning of July 14, I came to the Linshu County Detention Center and was told by the police at reception to “wait for notice” after submitting a request form for interviewing my client.

In the afternoon, I went to the Linyi City Procuratorate, which was responsible for the case, and contacted the prosecutor of the case asking for continuing to review the case file. Ding Jiaxi was placed under residential surveillance at a designated location (RSDL) from December 26 2019 until June 19 2020, when his arrest was approved. After the end of the two-month investigation period, the Shandong Provincial Procuratorate three times approved the extension of the investigation period for five months. On January 18, 2021, after the completion of the public security investigation, the case was transferred to the Linyi City Procuratorate for review and prosecution, and the latter twice returned the case to the Public SecurityBureau for supplementary investigation. Currently, the case is under a third review by the Linyi City Procuratorate.

Up until then, the Procuratorate had informed the defense lawyers that because the case “involved state secrets,” they were not allowed to take photos or make copies of the case files and were only allowed to review them under the prosecutors’ supervision. The defense lawyers believe that this restriction on copying case files violates Criminal Procedure Law and restricts lawyers’ defense rights. They filed objections requesting to correct errors and to allow lawyers to take photos or copy case files, but the requests were denied. There are more than 40 volumes of files with information on many people, time, places, procedures, and evidence. Not being allowed to copy files has impeded the lawyers from getting all the facts of the case and preparing for the defense.

Just as I finished reviewing the case files in the evening and was walking out of the Linyi Municipality Procuratorate building, the Linshu County Detention Center called and informed me that I was allowed to meet Ding Jiaxi in the afternoon of July 15.

On the morning of July 15, with the half-day spare time before the meeting, I went to the Linyi Municipality Procuratorate again and reviewed some key procedures and evidence, the two supplementary investigation case files submitted by the Public Security Bureau, and other related files.






Russia: Ongoing pressure against human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov and Team 29 led to suspension of organisation’s work


On 19 July 2021, the Moscow City Court rejected Ivan Pavlov’s lawyer’s appeal and left the restriction measures against the human rights lawyer unchanged. Ivan Pavlov has been under criminal investigation since April 2021, when he was accused of “disclosure of the data of a preliminary investigation” relating to one of his clients, former journalist Ivan Safronov. On 16 July 2021 Roskomnadzor blocked the website of the human rights lawyer’s organisation, Team 29, based on a request from the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation. According to the notification of the Prosecutor General’s Office, they identified Team 29 with an NGO called Společnost Svobody Informace registered in the Czech Republic, which is included in the list of undesirable organizations. Based on this, the Team 29 members were forced to suspend the work of the organisation in order to protect its team who may be targeted because of the connection with the  “undesirable” organization.

On 19 July 2021, the Moscow City Court rejected Ivan Pavlov’s lawyer’s appeals against the decision of the Basmanny District Court of Moscow and left the restriction measures against Ivan Pavlov unchanged, even though more than 40 lawyers filed complaints against the previous decision of the Court and 18 lawyers were in the Court hearings on 19 July. Pavlov’s lawyers provided the Court with more than 500 sureties/guarantees for Ivan Pavlov from Russian writers, professors, media workers, politicians and human rights defenders. More than 35 lawyers signed a petition demanding to stop the prosecution of Ivan Pavlov.

Ivan Pavlov is a prominent human rights lawyer and director of Team 29, an association of lawyers and journalists. His legal work focuses on defending those wrongly accused by the security services of disclosing state secrets, high treason, or espionage. He has also been working to ensure public access to government information, and with this aim founded the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information which was designated as a “foreign agent” by the Russian authorities in 2014. In 2015, Team 29 was established to provide consultation and legal aid to individuals asserting their right to receive and distribute information, defend victims abused by law enforcement and security agencies, provide recommendations on how to respond to searches, interrogations, arrests, etc. Ivan Pavlov has also contributed to the development of Russian legislation on the right to freedom of information. He received the Moscow Helsinki Group Award for defending human rights in court in 2015 and the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism in 2018, awarded by Human Rights Watch to activists who put themselves at great risk to protect the dignity and rights of others.









https://www.tvanouvelles.ca/2021/07/18/russie-un-groupe-davocats-sauto-dissout-pour-eviter-des-poursuites (FRANCAIS)