Tag Archives: IBAHRI

Advocacy charter Hungary

07/10/21

Advocacy charter Hungary

Lawyers for Lawyers, together with the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), submitted an advocacy charter to several country delegations to draw attention to the situation of lawyers in Hungary with regard to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Hungary. In March 2021, Lawyers for Lawyers and the IBAHRI submitted a report for the UPR of Hungary.

In the report, Lawyers for Lawyers and the IBAHRI have expressed their concern about the independence of the legal profession, legislative initiatives by the Hungarian government, and the public rhetoric against lawyers and judges.

Lawyers for Lawyers and the IBAHRI have expressed their concern about the independence of the legal profession, legislation and legislative initiatives impacting the judicial independence, and the public rhetoric against lawyers and judges. With adoption of the so-called “Stop Soros” legislation of 2018, the Hungarian government has restricted the rights of lawyers to carry out their professional duties independently and curtained their freedom of association by criminalizing the legal assistance provided by the immigration lawyers and legal NGOs to undocumented migrants.

Moreover, the Hungarian government adopted a new law in 2019 that targets the independence of the judicial system by granting the possibility to public authorities to file a constitutional complaint with the Constitutional Court instead of passing through the ordinary court system. As the independence of the Constitutional Court has been seriously undermined by the governing majority, the Court has been reluctant to hold authorities accountable for their wrongful acts. Moreover, through this new law Constitutional Court judges after their retirement could almost automatically become judges of the Hungarian Supreme Court. This would allow the ruling majority, which currently needs two-third majority in Parliament to elect Constitutional Court justices, to indirectly select and have so-called ‘loyal judges’ at the Supreme Court as well. This might have a direct effect on further eroding impartiality principle.

Lastly, according to our information, media sources have been widely used in Hungary to target, discredit, and demonize lawyers and judges that criticize the government, and uphold human rights. Herewith, the public rhetoric portrays lawyers as the enemies of the Hungarian state as well as defenders of terrorists and criminals.

https://www.upr-info.org/en/review/Hungary

ATTACKS ON HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS IN ZIMBABWE

21/09/21

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The latest research report by the ZLHR highlights the current situation of lawyers in Zimbabwe. The report outlines the political situation in Zimbabwe, as well the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally the report demonstrates how lawyers in Zimbabwe have been barred from representing their clients, have become subjects to arbitrary arrests, and have even been attacked for practicing their profession. Read on for more on this.

Introduction

Lawyers play a vital role in upholding the rule of law and the protection of human rights, including the rights to effective remedy, due process of law, fair trial and the right of freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Their work is indispensable for public confidence in the administration of justice, and to ensure effective justice for all. All persons are entitled to call upon the assistance of a lawyer of their choice to provide legal services. It is the responsibility of lawyers to protect and establish the rights of citizens from whatever manner in which those rights may be threatened and defend them in all stages of legal proceedings. To fulfil their professional duties effectively, lawyers should be able to practice law independently in accordance with recognized laws, standards and ethics. They should be free from improper interferences, any fear of reprisals, or unreasonable restrictions.

[…]

Attacks against lawyers

The beginning of 2020 saw an increase in the number of arrests of Zimbabwean lawyers, and in the restrictions placed on lawyers in their freedoms to carry out their profession. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and government enforced restrictions, resulted in an increase in these numbers. Alec Muchadehama, a human rights lawyer from Zimbabwe, describes the situation of lawyers under the lockdown as follows:

“ [W]e had insurmountable difficulties moving to police stations and the Courts. We would be frisked at the check points. We would not be allowed to pass despite identifying ourselves as lawyers. Whilst we were prevented from reaching our clients, they were being over detained and being held incommunicado. The case of Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova makes sad reading. They were kidnapped by suspected State security agents. On 5 May 2020 they temporarily disappeared and were discovered 36 hours later, severely tortured. They are now facing allegations of breaking the COVID-19 regulations and spreading falsehoods prejudicial to the State.”

Recommendations

L4L and ZLHR call upon the Zimbabwean authorities to guarantee in all circumstances that lawyers in Zimbabwe are able to carry out their legitimate professional rights and duties without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment. In its task of promoting and ensuring the proper role of lawyers, the Government of Zimbabwe should respect, and take account of, the Basic Principles within the framework of its national legislation and practice. Adherence to the Basic Principles is considered a fundamental pre-condition to fulfilling the requirement that all persons have effective access to legal assistance and representation. Furthermore, as a member of the African Union and the UN, and as a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Zimbabwe has legal obligations to adopt measures that effectively ensure rights to liberty, freedom from arbitrary detention, freedom of expression, and fair trial.

You can access the full report here (783KB PDF)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimbabwe_Lawyers_for_Human_Rights#:~:text=Zimbabwe%20Lawyers%20for%20Human%20Rights%20(ZLHR)%20is%20a%20not%20for,of%20the%20rule%20of%20law.

Afghanistan: Lawyer Latifa Sharifi from the Afghan women’s rights organisation Hawca rejected at Kabul airport

20/08/21

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Afghan lawyer Latifa Sharifi, a member of the Hawca association, whose main aim is to protect women’s rights, has already received several open death threats in the past. On 15 August, she tried to leave Afghanistan but was turned away at Kabul airport.

Latifa Sharifi is an Afghan lawyer who has specialised in women’s rights since 2009. She is a lawyer for Hawca, a historic Afghan women’s association. In particular, she assists women victims of domestic violence in divorce proceedings and for this reason she has received many threats and intimidations.

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera published on 19 August 2021 the news of the lawyer’s refoulement at Kabul airport, where she had gone on Sunday 15 August, with her husband and children, in an attempt to flee abroad. The article also reveals the content of a letter she had written to her sister who lives in America, which is a real call for help. The lawyer was reportedly harassed while taking her children to school, stones were thrown at the windows of her house and in 2017 she received a blood-stained letter stating “the next one will be written in your son’s blood”. Latifa Sharifi then had to move and work in hiding. A few years ago, in an interview, she denounced the fact that after the fall of the Taliban, it was difficult for women to denounce the violence suffered by their husbands in a country where sons after the age of 7 and daughters from the age of 9 are legally entrusted to their father. Extreme forms of rebellion by women, such as immolation, were recorded in Afghanistan.

The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger follows with great concern the evolution of the situation in Afghanistan, and calls for the guarantee of humanitarian corridors, in particular for women and minors and for those, including lawyers, who have fought for the respect of human rights. The IADO demands that the lawyer Latifa Sharifi be immediately allowed to leave Afghanistan with her family and seek political asylum.

[…]

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/statement-report/appeal-urgent-action-protect-human-rights-defenders-risk

https://news.sky.com/story/afghanistans-judges-fear-for-their-lives-as-uk-is-urged-to-protect-them-the-situation-is-worse-than-we-could-imagine-12385956

https://www.ibanet.org/IBA-Judges-Forum-Statement-Afghanistan-Judges

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/international-legal-body-expresses-concern-for-afghan-judges-lawyers/2339288

https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/afghan-women-judges-fear-execution-1.6143010

https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/29051/afghan-judges-fearing-for-their-lives-following-taliban-takeover-

(FRANCAIS)

https://www.barreau-marseille.avocat.fr/fr/actualites/id-505-mobilisation-pour-la-defense-des-avocates-et-magistrates-afghanes

(ITALIANO)
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Report: Lawyers Under Threat – Increasing Suppression of the Legal Profession in Belarus

21/07/21

Report: Lawyers Under Threat - Increasing Suppression of the Legal Profession in Belarus

Lawyers for Lawyers, the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights (ABA CHR), and the International Car Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) have launched the joint report “Lawyers Under Threat: Increasing Suppression of the Legal Profession in Belarus.” The report analyzes 24 cases of retaliatory acts against lawyers who represent defendants in politically sensitive cases or publicly speak about human rights abuses in Belarus following the contested August 2020 presidential election.

The report finds that in seven cases, the government of Belarus arrested, detained, and prosecuted individual lawyers who appear to have been targeted for their work defending human rights, protestors, or opposition figures or for themselves being associated with the opposition or exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association.

In other cases, the report documents the disciplinary proceedings and the subsequent disbarments that have been used against lawyers who represent political opponents of the government or those who openly criticize the government on issues of public significance. The report also identifies cases where the Ministry of Justice’s Qualification Commission, in a series of arbitrary re-certification examinations, pressured and disqualified lawyers who appeared to be working on human rights cases.

“The ABA has repeatedly called on the government of Belarus to end the flagrant human rights abuses and adhere to its constitutional and treaty law obligations to ensure basic rights and the rule of law,” ABA President Patricia Lee Refo said. “Unfortunately, the government has only grown bolder in its attempts to silence critical voices.”

Lawyers must be able to carry out their professional obligations free from intimidation, hindrance, harassment, or improper interference.

[…]

Human rights lawyers in China say spaces for activism are shrinking as they mark the sixth anniversary of the 709 crackdown

09/07/21

Friday marks the sixth anniversary of the “709 crackdown,” but some of the human rights lawyers that were arrested back then were still serving jail sentences. Additionally, while many of them have been released, the government has revoked their licenses, which makes it hard for some of them to raise their families.

While many human rights lawyers arrested during the “709 crackdown” have been released six years after the mass arrest, Yu Wen-sheng, who was the defense lawyer for several of them in 2015, is still serving his jail sentence at the Nanjing prison.

According to his wife Xu Yan, he has multiple health problems, including trembling and powerlessness in his right arm, which causes him to lose the ability to write, brush his teeth or pick dishes with chopsticks with his right arm. Additionally, he also suffers from high blood pressure, spine issues and kidney stones.

“In fact, his health condition isn’t really good and usually, he would already qualify for compassionate release, but the prison hasn’t approved my application for almost a year,” she said.

Xu said even though she continues to demand the prison to take Yu Wen-sheng to doctors for treatment, authorities at the prison have only taken him to the doctor twice in more than three years.

“He’s only been to the doctors twice in more than three years and the authorities still haven’t allowed him to get dental implant surgeries for the four teeth that he has lost,” she said. “If he fails to get dental implants for too long, it will start affecting his ability to eat food and other teeth nearby might start to get looses too.”

When the Chinese government initiated the “709 crackdown” six years ago, they arrested and detained hundreds of human rights lawyers, activists and their family members across 23 provinces in China. Yu Wen-sheng became the first lawyer to openly sue the government for the mass arrest on July 30.

[…]

https://williamyang-35700.medium.com/human-rights-lawyers-in-china-say-spaces-for-activism-are-shrinking-as-they-mark-the-sixth-637201f1e026

https://www.chrlawyers.hk/zh-hans/node/1690

https://www.nycbar.org/media-listing/media/detail/709-crackdown-on-lawyers-and-human-rights-advocates-sixth-anniversary

https://www.lawsociety.ie/gazette/top-stories/lawyers-in-china-must-endorse-socialism-to-practise-law/

https://thediplomat.com/2021/07/chinas-709-crackdown-is-still-going-on/

http://www.jeromecohen.net/jerrys-blog/2021/7/10/remembering-709-confronting-today-and-tomorrow

https://www.ibanet.org/China-statement-on-the-sixth-anniversary-of-the-709-Crackdown

https://www.dw.com/zh/709%E5%A4%A7%E6%8A%93%E6%8D%95%E5%85%AD%E5%91%A8%E5%B9%B4-%E7%BB%B4%E6%9D%83%E5%BE%8B%E5%B8%88%E7%94%9F%E5%AD%98%E4%B9%8B%E8%B7%AF%E8%A2%AB%E5%A0%B5%E6%AD%BB/a-58212501 (CHINESE)

(FRANCAIS)
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Belarus/USA/Russia: U.S.-Belarusian Lawyer ‘Abducted’ In Moscow, Transferred To Minsk

14/04/21

Lawyer Yuras Zyankovich is currently in the detention center for the Belarusian Committee of State Security (KGB) in Minsk.

Yuras Zyankovich, a Belarusian lawyer who also has U.S. citizenship, has been detained in Moscow and transferred to a detention center in Minsk amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent in Belarus following a disputed presidential election last year.

Zyankovich’s wife, Alena Dzenisavets, told RFE/RL on April 13 that Russian security officers “abducted” her husband from the Nordic Rooms Hotel in Moscow on April 11 and brought him to the Belarusian capital.

“I learned about that only yesterday. I talked to a manager of the hotel. According to him, the hotel’s personnel saw how men in civilian clothes took Yuras away, saying that he was suspected of terrorism. They showed their documents saying that they are from security organs,” Dzenisavets said, adding that Zyankovich is currently in the detention center for the Belarusian Committee of State Security (KGB) in Minsk.

Yuras Zyankovich, who used to be a regional leader of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) party and once sought to be its presidential candidate, has been living in the United States since 2007.

He is a graduate of Fordham University’s School of Law in New York and is permanently based in Houston, Texas. Zyankovich frequently visits Belarus and actively takes part in the country’s political life.

On April 12, the day of Zyankovich’s detention in Moscow, a noted Belarusian political analyst, Alyaksandr Fyaduta, went incommunicado in the Russian capital, where he works as a media consultant.

Moscow police said at the time that they had started looking for him after his relatives raised concerns about his whereabouts.

On April 13, the Belarusian KGB said that Fyaduta is in custody in Minsk.

[…]

https://www.rferl.org/a/belarus-lawyer-united-states-citizen-detained-moscow/31203152.html

https://charter97.org/en/news/2021/4/14/418492/

Click to access EN_HRL_20210414_Belarus_Case-of-lawyer-Lyudmila-Kazak.pdf

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Belarus: stop politically motivated prosecution and disbarment of lawyers

13/04/21

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) | Page 2 | Prachatai English

Today, the ICJ called on the Belarus Ministry of Justice and other relevant authorities to end the recent practice of using legal proceedings against lawyers in retaliation for discharging their professional duties and to reinstate those already disbarred.

In recent months, in the context of widespread violations of the human rights of those protesting against the outcome of the disputed 2020 presidential election, there has been an unprecedented increase of cases of disbarment of lawyers especially those who comment on violations of the human rights of their clients. Among the most recently disbarred lawyers are Konstantin Mikhel, Maxim Konon, Mikhail Kirilyuk and Yulia Ivanchuk.

“This recent wave of criminal and disciplinary proceedings against lawyers is highly worrying and it constitutes an attack on the independence of the legal profession. These proceedings, be they of criminal, administrative or disciplinary nature, should be discontinued or reconsidered as being contrary to the international human rights law concerning the independence of the legal profession,” said Temur Shakirov, Senior Legal Adviser of the ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme.

There is a clear pattern of the misuse of disciplinary proceedings against lawyers who represent political opponents of the government or those who openly criticize the government on issues of public significance.

Disciplinary proceedings in Belarus are not independent of the executive, since they are conducted by the Qualification Commission which operates under the Ministry of Justice.

Notably, disciplinary proceedings are pending against lawyer Dmitry Layevski, allegedly following his public comments on a pending Draft Law on advocates’ activities.

Dmitry Layevski is a lawyer representing Victor Babaryko, an opposition leader in Belarus currently in detention, and Maxim Znak, former legal representative of Maria Kolesnikova, another detained opposition leader.

Earlier, a number of lawyers, including Aleksandr Pylchenko, former legal representative of Viktor Babaryko and Maria Kolesnikova, and Lyudmila Kazak, former legal representative of Maria Kolesnikova, faced disciplinary sanctions, and Lyudmila Kazak incurred an administrative fine, as a result of discharging their professional functions.

Several lawyers involved in human rights cases have been called by the Qualification Commission to undergo an examination to re-certify their qualification to practice law and have failed the exam. This procedure appears to target lawyers working to defend human rights, as a means of harassment or reprisal.

[…]

https://www.ibanet.org/Article/NewDetail.aspx?ArticleUid=09fa9c9f-1e27-4e55-983c-3f4e112a569f

https://www.belhelcom.org/en/news/communication-un-special-rapporteurs-defense-belarussian-lawyers-2021

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxim_Znak

https://ex-press.by/rubrics/obshhestvo/2021/02/15/nekorrektno-vyrazhalsya-o-predstavitelyax-gosorganov-advokata-mixaila-kirilyuka-xotyat-lishit-licenzii (BELARUSIAN)

Azerbaijan: U.S. Calls For Reversal Of Top Azerbaijani Human Rights Lawyer’s Disbarment

26/03/21

Shahla Humbatova receives the International Women of Courage Award at the State Department in Washington on March 4, 2020.

The United States is calling for Azerbaijani human rights lawyer Shahla Humbatova to be reinstated into the country’s bar association after she lost her membership earlier this month in what she claimed was a politically motivated act.

Humbatova’s “work, and the work of other human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, should be celebrated, not punished, and we call on those responsible to expedite her reinstatement to the Azerbaijani bar,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a March 26 statement.

The prominent lawyer was disbarred on March 5 for failing to pay membership fees of $260 to the Azerbaijani Bar Association.

The lawyer said at the time that the board did not inform her about the debt and she found about her disbarment from the media. She then paid her membership fee immediately.

Humbatova is one of several human rights lawyers to have been disbarred in recent years, leaving few advocates to take on cases in a country renown for cracking down on the media and critical voices.

“We encourage all steps toward systemic reforms in Azerbaijan, especially those regarding the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms — areas that will benefit the Azerbaijani people and create opportunities to deepen our cooperation,” Blinken said in the statement.

Last year, the United States honored Humbatova with the secretary of state’s International Women of Courage Award.

Earlier this month, Freedom House published its 2021 report on global democracy, saying Azerbaijan’s judiciary “is corrupt and subservient to the executive.”

“Although nominally independent, the Azerbaijani Bar Association acts on the orders of the Ministry of Justice and is complicit in the harassment of human rights lawyers,” the report said.

https://www.rferl.org/a/call-for-reversal-of-top-azerbaijani-human-rights-lawyer-s-disbarment-united-states/31171382.html

https://www.ibanet.org/Article/NewDetail.aspx?ArticleUid=97af6ad6-3505-4d1f-8369-669bcd5f3ba5

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shahla_Humbatova

Burma: Rights lawyer Ko Thant Zin Htike violently abducted from home

26/03/21

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https://www.france24.com/en/asia-pacific/20210326-despite-international-pressure-myanmar-s-ruling-junta-continues-to-crush-dissent

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/myanmar-junta-protesters-shot-head-state-tv-14500148

https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/After-50-days-in-power-Myanmar-s-junta-is-flailing-desperately

https://www.france24.com/en/video/20210325-myanmar-s-anti-coup-movement-protesters-continue-to-defy-junta

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UK: UK government ministers condemned for anti-lawyer rhetoric

04/02/21

UK government ministers face increasing condemnation for verbal attacks on the legal profession in the aftermath of an alleged terrorism incident at a London firm.

In early September 2020, a member of the public allegedly threatened to kill a lawyer at a law firm’s office in Harrow. He has been charged with preparing terrorist acts, among other charges that include actual bodily harm, making a threat to kill, and a racially-aggravated public order offence. At the charging hearing, prosecutors alleged the motivation was connected to ‘the firm’s involvement in preventing the government from deporting people’. The man charged has yet to enter a plea.

Days before the incident, Home Secretary Priti Patel had tweeted to complain that Home Office ‘removals continue to be frustrated by activist lawyers’, despite the Home Office being condemned for a video using the same language only days earlier. The Law Society of England and Wales had criticised the ‘dangerous and misleading’ video that claimed government attempts to remove ‘migrants with no right to remain in the UK’ were blocked by ‘activist lawyers’ delaying and disrupting returns by ‘abus[ing]’ return regulations.

The video was removed from circulation and replaced with one that does not reference ‘activist lawyers’, but the Home Secretary continues to use the phrase.

Philip Rodney, former Member of the IBA Senior Lawyers’ Committee Advisory Board, tells Global Insight that he finds it ‘breath-taking that a government channel should seek to disparage as “activists” lawyers who work within the limits of the law to uphold the rights of those whom they represent. The ability to scrutinise executive powers and protect the interests of our clients is an essential part of the rule of law’.

He suggests that government attacks on lawyers, though alarmingly common in autocratic countries around the world, are unprecedented in the United Kingdom: ‘I can’t recall in more than 40 years of practice seeing that sort of language being used by government in an attempt to discredit lawyers who are just doing their jobs’.

Although concerns were raised about the connection between ministers’ language and the incident in the aftermath of the alleged attack, ministers have continued to politicise the work of lawyers representing asylum seekers.

[…]

https://workpermit.com/news/uk-immigration-case-prosecutors-blasted-home-office-20210126

If the Tories cared about the rule of law, they’d overturn the dismantling of legal aid

https://www.activistlawyer.com/post/changing-the-world-one-case-at-a-time-young-activist-lawyers

https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/brexit-news/a-profile-of-priti-patel-6888838

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jan/27/government-lawyer-tells-court-m15-officers-could-authorise