After two years of working at a distance, on 20 May 2022 the International Observatory for Lawyers at Risk finally convened in Rome for its annual General Assembly. Members of the Observatory were able to participate in person or online in the meeting as well as in an open conference organised the day before to make the work of the IADO more visible.
Conference on the role of lawyers in building the rule of law
On Thursday 19 May, the conference on the role of lawyers in the construction of the rule of law was held. Maria Masi, President of the Consiglio Nationale Forense, welcomed the participants and praised the work of the Observatory. Francesco Caia, President of the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger, introduced the conference by stating that “The best way to exert effective pressure on governments and authorities is to multiply debates and meetings, involving citizens; to publicise the facts and circumstances that lead to the erosion of the rule of law in many countries of the world, telling the stories, the intimidation, the unjust arrests, the arbitrary convictions and, unfortunately, in the most serious cases, the violence and murders of lawyers. “
David Ermini, vice-president of the Italian Superior Council of the Magistracy, underlined the existence of serious violations of the independence of justice and the freedom of lawyers. These occur not only in dictatorships but also in states like Hungary and Poland where the government does not respect the separation of powers. This is why rights and freedoms can never be taken for granted, even where democracy is strongest, and these values must always be defended.
Once again, Mr. Diego García Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, has honoured us by sharing a few words with us via video, pointing out that “there is currently in all regions of the world a persistent attitude aimed at hindering the exercise of the legal profession in various ways, which is a way of affecting the functioning of the judicial system and the rule of law”. The rapporteur will present his report on “Protection of lawyers against undue interference in the free and independent exercise of their profession” at the fifth session of the Human Rights Council from 13 June to 8 July.
Two lawyers shared their testimony on the essential work of the institutions in protecting threatened lawyers.