Tag Archives: IBA

Noted Lawyer Charged Over His Stance On Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine


The chairman of the Attorneys’ Chamber in Russia’s Udmurtia region, Dmitry Talantov, has been accused of committing five crimes and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Pervy Otdel (The First Unit), a group that unites lawyers and right defenders, wrote on Telegram on September 14 that Talantov has been charged with the distribution of fake materials inciting political hatred and discord, and two counts of inciting hatred and discord using an official position.

Talantov was arrested in the Udmurt capital, Izhevsk, and sent to pretrial detention in Moscow in late June after he criticized the Russian government and military forces over a deadly strike on a shopping mall in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk.

He was initially charged with distributing false information about the Russian armed forces.

Earlier in April, Talantov, who has openly condemned Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, also harshly criticized Russia’s military for killing civilians in the Ukrainian towns and cities of Irpin, Bucha, and Mariupol.

Talantov was the lawyer for Ivan Safronov, a prominent former Russian journalist who was sentenced to 22 years in prison last week on a treason charge widely considered to be politically motivated.










https://desk-russie.eu/2022/08/17/fausse-informations.html (FRANCAIS)

USA: Condemning the Murder of Mumtaz Sherhai in Afghanistan and Calling on the International Community to Demand Taliban Compliance with International Law


The New York City Bar Association (“City Bar”) condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent brutal murder of Afghan professor and former prosecutor Mumtaz Sherzai.[1]

Mumtaz Sherzai’s Murder

On July 15, 2022, Mumtaz Sherzai went missing from his home in the Matun district of the city of Khost, in Khost province in southeast Afghanistan.[2] Sherzai was a former National Directorate of Security (“NDS”) prosecutor and a professor at Khost University.[3] The following day, on July 16, Sherzai’s remains were found in the Tani district, near the Khost province airport.[4] His bruised and bloodied body bore obvious signs of beatings and severe torture, which are presumed to be his cause of death.[5] Sherzai is survived by his wife and their three-year-old daughter.[6] He was the sole breadwinner for his extended family.[7]

Sherzai’s Targeting as a Former Prosecutor and as a Professor

Regrettably, Sherzai’s murder is by no means an isolated instance. Both his service as a former prosecutor and his employment as a law professor at the time of his death rendered him highly vulnerable as a target of the Taliban. As a federal prosecutor with the NDS in the Afghan government before the mid-August 2021 Taliban takeover, Sherzai was responsible for investigating and prosecuting cases involving domestic and international terrorism, as well as other national security-related crimes.[8] Like hundreds of other former prosecutors across the country, Sherzai feared Taliban retribution[9] and was seeking to be evacuated to safety.[10] Most of the former prosecutors who have not escaped Afghanistan are in hiding.[11] Moreover, even before mid-August 2021, federal prosecutors regularly fell victim to the Taliban and other insurgent forces.[12]

Sherzai’s post-August 2021 work as a law professor also made him a target. For example, in one of the most recent high-profile cases involving the persecution of an Afghan legal professional, the Taliban arrested Faizullah Jalal, a prominent professor of law and political science at Kabul University. When Jalal was snatched from his Kabul home on January 8, 2022, the international community was seized with fear for the professor’s life. His release by the Taliban, unharmed, mere days later has been attributed to the swift and vocal worldwide condemnation of the Taliban’s action. But for that global outcry, the professor likely may have met a very different fate.[13]

Protections for Sherzai Under International Law

Sherzai’s murder highlights the Taliban’s grave violations of basic principles and precepts of international law in Afghanistan. These principles and precepts are designed to protect all members of the legal profession.[14]






Afghanistan: Taliban’s new bar exam procedures & notable absence of new women attorneys


Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation on the ground since the Taliban takeover. Here, a young lawyer in Kabul reports on the complications Taliban governance has wrought for young lawyers wishing to regain their rights to practice in the country. For privacy and security reasons, we are withholding our correspondent’s name. The text has only been lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.

The Afghanistan Independent Bar Association was merged with the Taliban’s Ministry of Justice right after they seized power in August last year. The Taliban merged the bar association into the Ministry of Justice’s organizational framework as a general directorate, despite efforts by several advocacy groups to protect the bar association’s independence.

The organization of the ministry has been expanded to include the bar directorate, and a procedure was later created to govern its daily operations. In accordance to this procedure, in order to practice law in Afghanistan, every licensed attorney is required to pass a new evaluation exam.

To assess the legal and Islamic knowledge of attorneys who are interested in taking the test and obtaining a new license, a new testing mechanism was established.

The exam was divided into two main components that tested applicants’ legal and Islamic knowledge, respectively. Although the major purpose of the exam was to assess applicants’ understanding of Islam, the testing committee also posed questions about business laws, the penal code, arbitration, inheritance law, and other topics.

In accordance with the new procedure, a committee comprising five members — mainly appointed on the basis of their knowledge of Islamic law — is appointed to evaluate an attorney who shows interest in obtaining a new license to practice law. The procedure does not limit gender diversity for obtaining a legal license but unfortunately, no female attorneys have yet been given a license. In addition, the Ministry of Justice has not made any apparent effort to inspire female lawyers to obtain new licenses.

The result of the second round of the evaluation test can be accessed here.

I have interviewed two attorneys who succeeded in the last two exams under the new Taliban protocol, and below are the details they provided regarding the new testing procedures:


Question: Why do you think no female lawyers were in attendance?

Answer: There are a number of significant reasons why female lawyers are unable to attend the test. In particular, most women fear participating and practicing within the Taliban’s judicial and prosecution agencies and many are discouraged from working as lawyers in the country. Generally speaking, the Taliban’s mentality toward gender roles in education and professional life has caused women not to attend the evaluation test.

Question: What sorts of religious questions you were asked?

Answer: The test was on basic Islamic issues such as specific procedures as related court hearings, and issues like praying five times a day. Those with the greatest awareness of Islamic rules and principles seemed to have better opportunities to obtain their new law licenses.











https://www.change.org/p/female-afghan-judges-are-at-extreme-risk-of-violence-and-need-emergency-visas-urgently (SIGN THE PETITION!)


https://news.un.org/fr/story/2022/07/1123012 (FRANCAIS)


Egypt: 20 human rights groups demand the release of Mohamed El-Baqer


On Thursday, 20 human rights groups issued a statement calling for the immediate and unconditional release of human rights lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer, director of Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms.

They said that El-Baqer’s detention was arbitrary and was intended to punish him for his legitimate work. They added that his detention puts his psychological well-being and life in grave danger.

On June 25, 2022, El-Baqer completed 1,000 days of arbitrary detention in Tora High Security 2, a prison known for its harsh and inhuman conditions. He is banned from leaving his cell, denied access to decent health care, and allowed to see his family only once a month.

El-Baqer was arrested on September 29, 2019, while performing his duties as a human rights lawyer when attending the interrogation of blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who was arrested the same morning.

Rights groups said that the Egyptian authorities had ignored the numerous appeals issued for the release of arbitrarily detained human rights defenders, such as the statements published by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, as well as the two resolutions issued by the European Parliament on the situation of human rights defenders in Egypt. They asserted that the Egyptian authorities routinely resort to repressive tactics such as prolonged pretrial detention, enforced disappearances, torture, unfair trials, and judicial harassment to silence dissenting voices. They called on the United States and the European Union to condemn the repressive actions against human rights defenders, journalists and political activists in Egypt. They also called on them to use all possible tools to address the human rights crisis in Egypt.






https://www.amnesty.be/infos/actualites/article/egypte-militants-plan-injustement-emprisonnes-jours-liberes (FRANCAIS)



Libertà per Alaa Abdel Fattah e altri prigionieri politici in Egitto

The Russian invasion of Ukraine: what the international legal community can do to help


The webinar titled ‘The Russian invasion of Ukraine: How can the legal profession provide support to Ukraine?’ took place on 6 April 2022 and was expertly moderated by Joanna Weller of LexisNexis, who is also the Co-Chair of the IBA Rule of Law Forum.

The IBA Law Firm Management Committee spearheaded the creation of this webinar as part two of the Russian invasion of Ukraine series and the recording is available here. Part one can be viewed here.

Wayne Jordash QC, Managing Partner at Global Rights Compliance, said that in the future, there will be a need for people who can provide on-the-ground support. ‘People who know their way around the battlefield and search for the ugly truth whenever possible will be needed.’ It will be essential for them to study the local laws. He warned audience members not to go at this alone, but to coordinate with local agencies. ‘You don’t want multiple people interviewing multiple witnesses,’ said Jordash. He stressed that this was not a short-term project and that the international community will need to focus on this for the long term.

‘Even in war, international law has its own rules, but not for Russia. They have even managed to create new kinds of crimes,’ said Anna Ogrenchuk, President of the Ukrainian Bar Association, based in Kyiv. She pointed out, ‘this is one of the challenges we as international lawyers have to face.’ Ogrenchuk remarked how grateful her group was for the support of the various bar associations and lawyers worldwide. However, she pointed out the difficulty and intricacies that will still need to be sorted out from a legal standpoint.

Wendy Betts is Director of eyeWitness to Atrocities, an initiative of the IBA. The organisation works with human rights defenders worldwide and has been working in Ukraine since 2017. Their efforts have been made possible through advances in technology, particularly cell phone usage, to record crimes and related volatile situations. As footage and metadata of this type needs to be verified in order to be used for legal purposes, they have developed an app that helps create footage that cannot be edited or deleted, keeping the integrity of the data and saving it in a closed system. The validity is closely maintained through a chain of custody backed by technology donated by LexisNexis.

Jörg Menzer of Noerr leads the firm’s Bucharest office and is Chair of the IBA Section on Public and Professional Interest (SPPI). He asked the group specifically what could be done by private practice lawyers and what they should consider as the next steps.








https://fr.zone-secure.net/109394/1553047/?fbclid=IwAR1oWhsLx8eH0i-_wa69MOkDv_KPk55RBVZgl8Ci0KNBDjBiZ_heHyc4i8c#page=3 (FRANCAIS)




Statement of the New York City Bar Association re: the Taliban Takeover of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association


The New York City Bar Association[1] joins the international community in condemning in the strongest possible terms the Taliban’s recent takeover of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association and related ongoing developments.[2]

The Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (“AIBA”) was established in 2008 under Afghanistan’s Advocates Law as a statutory body to oversee the licensing and regulation of lawyers independent of the executive branch, to promote professional excellence and equal opportunity in the legal profession, and to champion the rule of law and social justice.[3] The AIBA’s by-laws are among the most progressive of any bar association in the world. For example, the AIBA is believed to be the only bar association worldwide to have self-imposed gender quotas for bar leadership, including a quota for women on all executive committees, as well as a requirement of at least one woman vice-president.[4] Similarly, the AIBA by-laws require all AIBA members to take on at least three pro bono cases a year.[5] From its inception, the AIBA has been independent, non-governmental, and non-political.[6]

In the wake of Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban in mid-August 2021, the AIBA had been viewed as the country’s sole remaining bulwark of fundamental human rights, due process, judicial independence, the rule of law, and democratic values.[7]

However, on November 22, 2021, the Taliban Ministry of Justice published a decree stripping the AIBA of its independence, including its authority to license lawyers, and merging it into the Ministry.[8] The same decree states that only Taliban-approved lawyers will be permitted to appear in the courts and declares that lawyers must be “honest and loyal to the Islamic Emirate” (the Taliban), must have not worked with the prior government (i.e., the internationally-recognized government), and must have taken part in the “jihad” of the past 20 years – criteria that, in effect, would appear to exclude all non-Taliban figures.[9]

On November 23, 2021, the day after the decree issued, an estimated 50 armed Taliban stormed the AIBA’s offices in Kabul, threatening the lawyers and staff with violence before ordering them off the premises[10] and installing a new president who has ties to the Taliban Ministry of Justice but no relevant experience.[11] Days later, on December 5, 2021, armed Taliban raided an AIBA news conference planned to protest the Taliban takeover and to highlight the importance of the AIBA’s independence, forcing AIBA members to flee for their lives.[12] The situation has continued to deteriorate since then.[13]

Particularly alarming is the fact that, as a result of its takeover of the AIBA, the Taliban now have access to the AIBA’s database of the personal and professional records of more than 2500 lawyers and judicial system employees.[14] These records include detailed, highly-sensitive information on matters such as individuals’ home addresses, family members, and client files – leaving lawyers, prosecutors, and judges (particularly women) even more exposed to the very real possibility of reprisals at the hands of convicted prisoners who were freed by the Taliban and at the hands of the Taliban itself.[15] The Taliban have similarly seized control of the AIBA’s bank accounts and funds.[16]

More recently, the Taliban Ministry of Justice has announced that Afghan lawyers will be required to re-certify under a new qualification process established by the Ministry.[17] Male lawyers who have applied to renew their licenses under the new process report that they have been required to take an oral examination in which the questions are drawn from religious subjects and have nothing to do with the law.[18] To date, the Taliban have failed to issue even a single law license to any woman lawyer.[19]  Although, like their male colleagues, women lawyers have applied to renew their licenses, their requests are not being processed and they have been told to wait until a decision is made as to whether they will be permitted to continue to practice.[20]




https://www.helloasso.com/associations/fonds-de-dotation-du-conseil-national-des-barreaux/formulaires/2 (FRANCAIS)


The Netherlands: International statement of solidarity

October 7, 2019

On 4 October 2019, a memorial service was organized for Dutch lawyer Derk Wiersum. On this day, a international solidarity statement signed by 34 organizations including Lawyers for Lawyers was published.

International statement of solidarity

Mr. Wiersum, a well-respected lawyer and deputy judge, was shot in broad daylight right outside his house in Amsterdam in the early morning of 18 September 2019. He was representing a crown witness in the so-called Marengo-trial, a high-profile criminal case against members of an organization accused of several murders and attempted murders in the last couple of years. Although the events are still being investigated, it is assumed and highly likely that the death of Mr. Wiersum is related to his work as a lawyer.

This killing of a lawyer, apparently in connection with his work, raises serious concerns for the safety of lawyers and poses a threat to the proper functioning of the rule of law and the adequate protection of rights, including the right to remedies and fair trial.

The organizations welcome the prompt and public condemnation of this crime and the immediate measures taken by the Dutch authorities to initiate an investigation, which should lead to the identification and prosecution of the perpetrators. The organizations also welcome that measures were taken promptly and immediately to protect lawyers and all others who need protection in the Marengo-case. We expect that the Dutch authorities will do everything in their power to ensure that lawyers can do their work safely, freely, and independently in all circumstances.

International statement of solidarity


International Statement of Solidarity



International Bar Association: IBA 2019: ‘Enthusiastic amateurs’ wanted to protect lawyers at risk

September 27, 2019

Simon Davis IBA

Commercial lawyers can do their bit as ‘enthusiastic amateurs’ to help protect colleagues at risk and the rule of law in general around the world, the president of the Law Society told the global legal profession today.

‘We need to ensure we are capturing the imagination and influence of the enthusiastic amateur,’ Davis told a packed closing session of the International Bar Association’s annual conference discussing ways to address the persecution of lawyers and judges.

By uniting in solidarity the profession can show that human rights lawyers are not just some isolated group to be picked off by hostile authorities, Davis said.

‘You can be a human rights lawyer in any organisation – we are all human rights lawyers,’ the Clifford Chance partner said.

The conference heard accounts of lawyers being threatened, imprisoned and murdered in countries as diverse as Turkey, Thailand and Venezuela. In the Philippines alone, 44 lawyers have been killed over the past three years, Erik Hammerstein, a commercial litigator who sites on the board of Netherlands group Lawyers for Lawyers said.

Noting this year’s furore over the granting of legal aid to a solicitor acting for a fugitive from justice, Davis said that the battle to protect the independence of the legal profession also had to be fought at home.





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International Bar Association/South Korea: Sessions on persecution of lawyers, Annual Conference, September 22-27, 2019

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Azerbaijan: IBAHRI calls for Azerbaijan Bar Association to revoke suspension of human rights lawyer’s licence

March 22, 2018

In support of lawyer Fakhraddin Mehdiyev’s 16 March 2018 appeal for the decision suspending him from practise to be overturned, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) also calls on the Azerbaijan Bar Association to revoke its judgment. The ruling followed a complaint by the Deputy Prosecutor-General of Azerbaijan Rustam Usubov that Mr Mehdiyev and other colleagues were ‘politicised’.

A prominent defender of the rights of political prisoners, Mr Mehdiyev’s licence to practice law was suspended for one year on 22 January 2018 by the Azerbaijan Bar Association for allegedly disclosing prosecution material when he handed an overview of his client, Jahangir Hajiyev former Chairman of the Board of the International Bank of Azerbaijan, to media representatives. Mr Mehdiyev argues that this was legal, as the case had already been decided at the time the interview was given.

IBAHRI Director, Phillip Tahmindjis, commented: ‘The decision to suspend Mr Mehdiyev’s licence appears as part of a deliberate attempt by the Azerbaijan Bar Association to discredit lawyers who take on cases deemed politically sensitive. It is not the role of the Bar Association to pass judgement on the clients of lawyers. Rather, the Azerbaijan Bar Association should seek to protect the independence of the lawyers it seems so intent on attacking.’

Mr Mehdiyev is among a number of lawyers suspended or disbarred after representing political prisoners or government critics, including dozens of activists and journalists arbitrarily charged since President Ilham Aliyev came to power in 2003. In a move seemingly to minimise the number of opposition politicians receiving legal representation, the Code of Civil and Administrative Procedure (the ‘Code’) and the Bar Act were amended by Parliament on 31 October 2017 to allow only members of the Bar Association to represent clients in court. The amendments were signed into law on 7 November by President Aliyev and entered into force on 1 January 2018.