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.