April 13, 2017
Each year, the IBA present an award to an outstanding lawyer in the world of human rights law.
Established in 1947, the International Bar Association (IBA) is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. The IBA influences the development of international law and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world. It has a membership of over 55,000 individual lawyers and 195 bar associations and law societies spanning all continents. Grouped into two divisions – the Legal Practice Division (LPD) and the Public and Professional Interest Division (PPID) – the IBA covers all practice areas and professional interests, providing members with access to leading experts and up-to-date information.
The IBA has always been dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights and the independence of the legal profession under a just rule of law. The IBA’s Human Rights Institute was established in 1995 under the honorary presidency of Nelson Mandela. The IBAHRI is an independent entity within the Public and Professional Interest Division (PPID) of the IBA. The Section on Public and Professional Interest (SPPI) sits within the PPID and within that entity, there is also a Human Rights Committee.
The award will be made to a legal practitioner (whether in private practice, public interest, employment as a legal adviser, academia, bar leadership or other regulation of the profession) who, through personal endeavour in the course of such practice, is deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to the promotion, protection and advancement of the human rights of all, or any group of, people, particularly with respect to their right to live in a fair and just society under the rule of law.
January 24, 2017
Today, on the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, the IBAHRI stands in solidarity with the international community and calls to attention the threats that many lawyers around the world continue to face when carrying out their work.
The IBAHRI regularly advocates for the protection and independence of legal professionals, in order that they may perform their professional duties and have their human rights respected and defended.
Throughout 2016, the IBAHRI has urged national authorities to address various instances of harassment and maltreatment aimed at lawyers involved with defending human rights, including:
- Azerbaijan (April 2016): Charges remain against human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev in Azerbaijan after his release from imprisonment.
- China (June 2016): Lawyer Wu Liangshu was assaulted in a Chinese courtroom while attempting to file a case.
July 28, 2016
Shakespeare is often quoted by those seeking to undermine lawyers: ‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers’, says Dick the Butcher in Henry VI, Part II. But this rebel was in fact recognising that, in order to carry out his rebellion, the lawyers and judges who defend the rule of law and order in society would have to be eliminated. Today, authoritarian regimes are unfortunately following that same game plan.
Lawyers are under attack in multiple countries whose leaders wish to impose their own version of law. In Malaysia, the government seeks to adopt amendments to the Legal Profession Act 1976 that would effectively impose government control over the Bar by, among other things, appointing government representatives to sit on the Bar Council, and empowering the minister in charge of legal affairs to determine the electoral rules and regulations of the Bar. Government members of the Bar Council would be required to report on Bar Council meetings, which would make it impossible for Council members to speak confidentially. It would inevitably limit the Council’s ability to speak out or take action against the Government when necessary. Other proposed amendments would create unmanageable and unnecessary quorum requirements and other measures designed to restrain the Bar Council’s ability to protect the rule of law and the independence of lawyers.
In Turkey, following the unsuccessful coup attempt, President Erdogan quickly removed more than 2,500 judges from their positions, as well as substantial numbers of prosecutors, and many of them have been arrested and detained.