Tag Archives: Human Rights Watch

Russia: Mikhail Benyash fined 30,000 RUB

October 17, 2019

Mikhail Benyash

On 11 October 2019, Leninsky District Court of Krasnodar found Mikhail Benyash guilty of “exercising violence against a representative of authority” and fined him 30 000 RUB (almost 423 EUR).

On 23 September 2018, Mikhail Benyash was charged under article 318 of the Criminal Code of Russia, following his arrest on 9 September 2018 in Krasnodar where he had travelled to provide legal assistance to the participants of an unsanctioned protest against pension reform. The Investigative Committee claimed that Mikhail Benyash hit a police officer in the face three times and bit him on the arm. The human rights defender thoroughly rejects these accusations.

Mikhail Benyash is a defence lawyer who has been working on civil and criminal cases for the last ten years in Sochi and Krasnodar Region, Russia. In the context of authorities’ reluctance to sanction peaceful protests, the human rights defender has been providing legal assistance to the participants of rallies which were not officially approved. He has also attended a number of protests in order to monitor and prevent police brutality.





China/Hong Kong: Chinese lawyer Chen Qiushi, censured over Hong Kong social media posts, vows to keep speaking out

October 16, 2019

In his first online video for more than a month Chen Qiushi (left) expressed his thanks to MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong (right) for his support. Photo: Handout

A Chinese rights lawyer who says he was harassed and silenced by mainland authorities after reporting on the Hong Kong protests in August made his social media return at the weekend in a video in which he vowed to continue to speak out on the issue.
Chen Qiushi

–– who had 740,000 followers on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, before his account was deleted – had been out of the public eye since making the broadcasts in which he challenged state media reports that the people leading the protests in the city were rioters and separatists.

Most of those involved were peaceful, the 34 year old said. “Not all of them are rioters.”

Days later, he was called back to Beijing under pressure from mainland authorities. All of his social media accounts were deleted and his video broadcasts disappeared along with them.

But the Beijing-based lawyer and online commentator made his comeback on Sunday when a video he said was made in the northern coastal city of Qingdao on October 2 was shared on Weibo.

“Since coming back from Hong Kong, I’ve been taken to meetings with officials from many departments,” he said, adding that the film was the first he had made since returning to the mainland.









Russia: Russian Lawyer Who Defended Detainees Fined For ‘Attack’ On Police

October 11, 2019

Michail Benyash appears in court during his trial in Krasnodar.

A Russian lawyer and human rights activist has been found guilty of attacking police and fined 30,000 rubles ($468) by a Krasnodar court in connection with his detention while he was trying to provide legal advice to protesters being taken into police custody at an anti-government rally a year ago.

Mikhail Benyash had faced up to five years in prison, and investigators were reportedly seeking a larger fine.

International rights group Amnesty International has called the charges against Benyash “politically motivated.”

He has spent the past decade working on civil and criminal cases and “has been providing legal assistance to the participants of rallies which were not officially approved,” according to Frontline Defenders, a Dublin-based group that seeks to protect “at-risk” human rights defenders.

Benyash was arrested on September 9, 2018, in Krasnodar, where he went to provide legal assistance to participants in an unsanctioned protest during a wave of public rallies against Russian pension reform.

He was initially ordered to spend two weeks in jail in September 2018 for allegedly disobeying police.

Later, he was charged with “using violence against a government official,” leading to this latest conviction.








Indonesia: Investigate Environmental Lawyer’s Death

October 10, 2019

Golfrid Siregar Helped to Protect Sumatra’s Rainforests, Villagers

Golfrid Siregar (left),  an environmental lawyer, died on October 6, 2019 three days after his unconscious body was found in Medan, North Sumatra.

Indonesian authorities should immediately and impartially investigate the death of an environmental lawyer, Golfrid Siregar, in Medan, North Sumatra, Human Rights Watch said today.

After midnight on October 3, 2019, a pedicab driver found Siregar unconscious and seriously injured on a street in Medan, the provincial capital, and took him to a local hospital. He never regained consciousness and died on October 6. He had suffered multiple injuries and his wallet and other personal effects were missing.

“Golfrid Siregar was an environmental lawyer and grassroots activist who had dedicated his life to protecting Sumatra’s rainforests and helping villagers protect their land,” said Andreas Harsono, senior Indonesia researcher. “His death under suspicious circumstances demands a prompt, thorough investigation of all those implicated.”

Siregar, 34, represented the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia, or Walhi), Indonesia’s largest environmental group, in a lawsuit against North Sumatra’s governor over his 2017 approval for the construction of the US$1.5 billion Batang Toru hydroelectric dam. Walhi had argued that the permit issuance process was problematic and was appealing two earlier court verdicts they had lost. He had also sought legal action against the police in a related matter for their alleged failure to adequately respond to a complaint.


Suspicions of murder in death of Indonesian environmental activist




The death of a fiercely contested Indonesian lawyer asks colleagues questions

https://www.tribunnews.com/regional/2019/10/11/kasus-kematian-golfrid-siregar-tukang-becak-yang-bawa-pengacara-walhi-itu-ke-rs-jadi-tersangka (INDONESIAN)

https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2019/10/10/indonesie-enqueter-sur-la-mort-dun-avocat-defenseur-des-droits-environnementaux (FRANCAIS)

https://www.courrierinternational.com/une/climat-en-indonesie-soupcons-dassassinat-apres-la-mort-dun-activiste-environnemental (FRANCAIS)

Cameroon: Political Opponent Freed

October 7, 2019

Scores Still Held for Political Activism

Maurice Kamto holds a news conference at his headquarter in Yaounde, Cameroon October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Cameroon President Paul Biya ordered the release on October 4, 2019 of a prominent opposition leader, Maurice Kamto. The president also ordered the release of other members and supporters of Kamto’s party, the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC). Kamto and the other detainees were released on October 5.

Kamto, along with over 200 MRC members and supporters, was arrested between January 26 and 28 after countrywide peaceful protests. At least 350 more party members and supporters, including its vice president Mamadou Mota, were arrested between June 1 and 2 after they tried to hold demonstrations across the country.

“The release of Kamto and other opponents is excellent news,” said Lewis Mudge, central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “But Kamto, his allies, and supporters should never have been arrested and prosecuted in the first place for simply organizing peaceful protests.”

Kamto denounced the results of presidential elections in October 2018 and was facing trial before the Yaoundé Military Court on charges of insurrection, hostility against the homeland, criminal association, threats to public order, rebellion, and inciting insurrection, crimes that could carry the death penalty. The next hearing was scheduled for October 8. All charges against Kamto have been dropped.

Menkem Sother, a lawyer for Kamto, told Human Rights Watch that while he welcomed the news of Kamto’s release, 60 other party leaders, members, and supporters were still awaiting trial.





Cameroon: Maurice Kamto and other opposition activists are released, but rule of law reforms still urgently needed


https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2019/10/07/cameroun-liberation-dun-opposant-politique (FRANCAIS)

https://www.jeuneafrique.com/839282/politique/cameroun-scenes-de-liesse-a-yaounde-apres-la-liberation-de-maurice-kamto/ (FRANCAIS)

https://www.france24.com/fr/20191005-opposant-camerounais-maurice-kamto-libere-apres-neuf-mois-prison (FRANCAIS)

https://www.liberation.fr/planete/2019/10/06/au-cameroun-la-liesse-combative-des-opposants-liberes_1755894 (FRANCAIS)

https://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2019/10/05/cameroun-le-tribunal-militaire-ordonne-la-remise-en-liberte-du-principal-opposant-maurice-kamto_6014368_3212.html (FRANCAIS)

https://agencecamerounpresse.com/politique/institutionnel/lib%C3%A9ration-de-kamto-%C2%ABune-volont%C3%A9-de-paul-biya-de-ramener-la-pays%C2%BB,-selon-ren%C3%A9-sadi.html (FRANCAIS)

https://actucameroun.com/2019/10/07/liberation-de-maurice-kamto-lue-applaudit-ce-geste-dapaisement-important/ (FRANCAIS)

https://www.cameroonnewsonline.com/apres-sa-liberation-michel-ndoki-est-prete-a-continuer-la-lutte/ (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Kamto (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelle_Ndoki (FRANCAIS)

http://www.ansa.it/sito/notizie/mondo/2019/10/07/camerun-liberato-leader-opposizione_47e3f848-a465-4f60-95d8-a8b5a1210285.html (ITALIANO)

http://jornaldeangola.sapo.ao/mundo/africa/onu-encoraja-camaroes-a-continuar-com-abertura (PORTUGUES)

The Philippines: Murder attempt against Filipina human rights lawyer

October 5, 2019

Human Rights Group decries murder attempt against Filipina human rights lawyer


The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) decries the ambush on Atty. Criselda Heredia while she was with her daughter and client last September 23, 2019. Fortunately, the three were physically uninjured as shots were fired into Heredia’s car by unidentified gunman on board a motorcycle. The incident happened in the municipality of Panit-an on the island of Panay, Central Philippines, around 11:30 am.

Heredia is a human rights lawyer and active in anti-mining campaigns on the island. As a member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) she handles pro bono cases for farmers, human rights defenders and political prisoners.

According to NUPL, before the shooting, Heredia was red-tagged in posters and had been receiving death threats from unidentified men visiting her office. Human rights lawyer Atty. Benjamin Ramos was murdered on the nearby island of Negros last November 7, 2018. Before Ramos’ death, he was also red-tagged with name and face included in posters rolled out across the island.

“ICHRP condemns this outright attack against Filipino human rights lawyers. There is a clear pattern of vilification and harassments which then lead to political killings,” said Mr. Peter Murphy, chair of ICHRP’s Global Council. “This only shows the continuing climate of impunity and the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines under President Duterte”.

The attack on Atty Heredia brings to total for attacks on lawyers since President Duterte came to office in July 2016 to 61, with 49 killed and 12 survivors.


Roxas-based rights lawyer survives slay try


Human right group files motion at ICC



Drug-war victims’ kin file 2nd ICC pleading




Filipino human rights lawyer uninjured after gunmen ambush car

Filipino lawyers attacksed Sept 2019 (IAPL MONITORING COMMITTEE REPORT)

https://www.abogacia.es/2019/09/18/filipinas-aumentan-los-ataques-contra-los-abogados/ (ESPANOL)

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(L’Observatoire des Avocats Facebook, 05/10/19)

Saudi Arabia: One year after Khashoggi killing, activists honour his legacy by continuing to fight for freedom of expression.

October 2, 2019


One year since the extrajudicial execution of Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi citizens are honouring Khashoggi’s legacy by pursuing the fight for their inalienable right to freely express themselves, despite the authorities’ continuing crackdown and the absence of any meaningful signal to hold accountable those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, Amnesty International said today.

“Any talk of assuming responsibility for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing is meaningless if not met with the immediate and unconditional release of dozens of individuals who continue to languish in prison, and who continue to be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment, solely for having expressed their opinion in a peaceful manner,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.

To date, Amnesty International has documented the cases of at least 30 prisoners of conscience who are behind bars serving prison sentences of between five and 30 years solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Amongst those currently detained are Mohammad al-Qahtani, a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association who called for the protection and promotion of human rights and provided legal support to families of detainees, and Waleed Abu al-Khair, a lawyer who defended human rights defenders before his imprisonment. Mohammad al-Qahtani and Waleed Abu al-Khair were tried and sentenced before the counter-terror court to 10 and 15 years in prison, respectively, for their peaceful human rights work.

Marking the first anniversary since Jamal Khashoggi’s extrajudicial execution, Saudi Arabian activists abroad – supported by Amnesty International – are launching a podcast series called “The Great Saudi Arabia”, focusing on different human rights issues affecting the country. The first series focuses on the story of Jamal Khashoggi. At the heart of this initiative is the activists’ desire to demonstrate to everyone in Saudi Arabia and the world at large that extreme measures of repression will not stop them from expressing their views, tell their own stories and continue their fight for the release of other human rights defenders who are paying a hefty price for speaking out.






https://www.amnesty.org/fr/latest/news/2019/10/saudi-arabia-one-year-after-khashoggi-killing-activists-honour-his-legacy-by-continuing-to-fight-for-freedom-of-expression/ (FRANCAIS)

https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2019/04/15/arabie-saoudite-cinquieme-annee-de-prison-pour-lactiviste-waleed-abu-al-khair (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abu_al-Khair (FRANCAIS)

Image result for waleed abu al-khair

Egypt: Egyptian authorities threaten to ‘decisively confront’ protesters

September 26, 2019

Over 1,900 arrested as Egypt braces for more demonstrations planned for Friday against rule of Abdel Fatah al-Sisi

Egyptian authorities have made it clear that they intend to use force to quell Friday’s planned demonstrations against the rule of the president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

Public dissent has been all but extinguished under the former army general, who swept to power in a military coup in 2013, making any form of protest extremely dangerous.

More than 1,900 people have been arrested since rare protests broke out last weekend, and on Thursday the ministry of the interior “affirmed that it will confront any attempt to destabilise the country with decisiveness”, according to local media.

Central Cairo was heavily guarded as riot police, vans of security officials and plainclothes police spread out along the network of streets surrounding Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egypt’s 2011 revolution.

The figures for the arrests were compiled by the Cairo-based NGO the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights. Bystanders and others who had little to do with the protests were reportedly detained along with the demonstrators, and those arrested were being held across the country.

Several prominent opposition figures have been detained, despite no indication that any were involved with the new wave of dissent.

The award-winning human rights lawyer Mahienour el-Massry was seized outside a Cairo courthouse where she was defending protesters. Days later, journalist and opposition politician Khaled Dawoud was arrested, as well as the political scientist Hassan Nafea and Hazem Hosny, a former spokesperson for the former military chief of staff Sami Anan, who remains in detention after attempting to run for president last year.



1,909 detained in Egypt as crackdown continues



Mahinour el-Masry


Egypt – authorities must release hundreds of persons detained for exercising their fundamental freedoms





https://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/entry/pres-de-1500-egyptiens-arretes-depuis-vendredi-le-regime-siss-traite-les-manifestants-pacifiques-comme-des-terroristes_mg_5d8cbdabe4b0ac3cdda46bf1 (FRANCAIS)

https://www.voaafrique.com/a/bachelet-appelle-l-egypte-%C3%A0-changer-radicalement-d-approche-face-aux-manifestations-(onu)/5101356.html (FRANCAIS)

https://www.liberation.fr/planete/2019/09/26/en-egypte-une-pluie-d-arrestations-pour-doucher-la-contestation_1753828 (FRANCAIS)

https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2019/09/27/egypte-vague-darrestations-travers-le-pays (FRANCAIS)

https://www.rtp.pt/noticias/mundo/egito-novo-protesto-planeado-depois-de-quase-dois-mil-manifestantes-terem-sido-presos_n1175078 (ITALIANO)

https://internasional.republika.co.id/berita/pyfv51382/mesir-tangkap-1900-orang-termasuk-pengacara-ham (INDONESIAN)

https://mgronline.com/around/detail/9620000093056 (THAI)


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Cameroon: Cameroonian Lawyers Say ‘Enough is Enough’

September 18, 2019

Douala Court of Justice, Cameroon.

Cameroonian lawyers are on strike this week, protesting law enforcement agencies’ interference in their work and violations of defendants’ rights.

In a communique issued on August 31, the Cameroon Bar Council explained that the lawyers decided to stage the five-day strike because of what they describe as systematic denial of access to their clients in detention facilities across the country, including the State Defense Secretariat (SED) detention facility in Yaoundé. The lawyers are also protesting authorities’ alleged refusal to acknowledge or respond to their various written requests, the prolonged and unlawful detention of their clients, and the extraction of confessions under torture. The lawyers further claim in the letter that they are “continuously being threatened, arrested and detained” while trying to do their work.

Human Rights Watch has extensively documented the widespread use of incommunicado detention and torture at SED, as well other violations of due process rights. A military court recently handed down a life sentence to the leaders of a separatist group following a trial in which the defendants were not able to exercise their right to effectively defend themselves.

The strike occurs about a month after inmates in Yaoundé’s Central Prison rioted in protest against abysmal living conditions and trial delays. Following the riot, Cameroonian authorities held over 100 detainees incommunicado for almost 2 weeks at SED. Many of them were tortured.



Lawyers in Cameroon begin nationwide strike for better working conditions



Droit de l’homme : Lawyers Rights Watch Canada vole au secours de Me Ndoki

Arbitrary Detention of Lawyers and Defenders in China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Cameroon | Oral Statement to the 42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

https://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2019/09/20/au-cameroun-vaste-mouvement-de-greve-des-avocats_6012402_3212.html (FRANCAIS)

https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2019/09/18/au-cameroun-les-avocats-disent-ca-suffit (FRANCAIS)

http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20190918-cameroun-justice-greve-avocat-barreau?ref=wa_i (FRANCAIS)

https://www.lebledparle.com/societe/1109363-barreau-du-cameroun-cabral-libii-propose-des-solutions-aux-multiples-revendications (FRANCAIS)

https://cameroun24.net/actualite-cameroun-info-Greve_des_avocats___cours_dappel_et_tribunaux_sans-51835.html (FRANCAIS)

https://aip.ci/cote-divoire-inter-aip-les-avocats-camerounais-en-greve-pour-protester-contre-les-entraves-a-leur-metier/ (FRANCAIS)

https://actucameroun.com/2019/09/17/greve-des-avocats-un-soutien-aux-leaders-du-mrc-detenus/ (FRANCAIS)

https://actucameroun.com/2019/09/17/greve-des-avocats-vers-une-desolidarisation/ (FRANCAIS)

http://www.avocatparis.org/mon-metier-davocat/publications-du-conseil/soutien-du-conseil-de-lordre-au-barreau-du-cameroun-dans (FRANCAIS)

https://www.lebledparle.com/actu/politique/1109373-greve-des-avocats-jean-de-dieu-momo-accuse-ouvertement-le-mrc-de-manipulation (FRANCAIS)

https://www.bbc.com/pidgin/tori-49773682 (PIDGIN)

Turkey: Report: There still 143 lawyers in Turkish prisons

September 17, 2019

In response to a parliamentary question of Mr Sezgin Tanrikulu, the Turkish Ministry of Justice announced the number of lawyers held in prison by years. According to the Ministry of Justice the number of lawyers remanded in pretrial detention by years as following: 354, 487, 169 and 143, respectively in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.


Since 2016’s coup attempt, there has been a relentless campaign of arrests which has targeted lawyers across Turkey. In 77 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, lawyers have beendetained, prosecuted and convicted due to alleged terror-linked offenses. As of today, more than 1500 lawyers have been prosecuted and 599 lawyers arrested. So far, 321 lawyers have been sentenced to 2022 years in prison on the grounds of membership of an armed terrorism organization or of spreading terrorist propaganda.

Lawyers who were released after a certain time of pretrial detention will return to prison if their pending appeals dismissed.

Report: There still 143 lawyers in Turkish prisons

Abuse of the Anti-Terrorism Provision by Turkey is steadily increasing



18 Lawyers sentenced to long prison terms




Arbitrary Detention of Lawyers and Defenders in China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Cameroon | Oral Statement to the 42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

http://www.milliyet.com.tr/gundem/bylock-kullanan-avukata-hapis-6041404 (TURKCE)