A lawyer and a process server were shot and wounded while serving a demolition order to a farmer in Barangay Cavite West, Palo, Leyte, on Wednesday morning, Jan. 25.
The victims were identified as Alexander Lacaba, 60, a private practitioner, and Adolfo Petilla, 59, the process server of Branch 43, Regional Trial Court here.
Initial police report disclosed that Sheriff Danilo Obediencia, together with the victims, and a representative from the Commission on Human Rights were implementing a writ of demolition against the property occupied by the suspect, Conrado Boren Sr., 67.
The suspect reportedly fired at the demolition team, wounding the victims who were brought to the nearest hospital.
Boren was arrested by police escorting the demolition team. Recovered from his possession was a caliber .45 with three empty shells and a misfired cartridge.
Charges for two counts of frustrated murder and violation of Republic Act 10591 (Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition) are now being prepared against the suspect.
The Observatory has been informed about the opening of the trial against Mr Dauletmurat Tajimuratov, who was abducted in June 2022 along with his relatives and has been arbitrarily detained ever since. Mr Tajimuratov is a lawyer, independent journalist, and defender of the rights of the Karakalpak national minority in Uzbekistan.
On November 28, 2022, Dauletmurat Tajimuratov appeared before the Bukhara Regional Criminal Court for the first hearing in his criminal trial on the following charges:
“Intentional grievous bodily harm” (Article 104, paragraph 3(a) of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan);
“Conspiracy to seize power or overthrow the constitutional order” (Article 159 paragraph 4 of the same Code);
“Theft by embezzlement or misappropriation at a large scale” (Article 167, paragraph 3(a) of the same Code);
“Legalisation of proceeds of criminal activity” (Article 243 of the same Code);
“Organisation of mass riots accompanied by violence” (Article 244, paragraph 3 of the same Code);
“Preparation and dissemination of materials containing threat to public security and public order” (Article 244-1, paragraph 1(a, b, g) of the same Code).
The articles under which Mr Tajimuratov is accused carry penalties of up to 8, 10 and 15 years in prison. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, he remained detained in pre-trial detention centre No. 11 in the city of Urgench, Khorezm region.
The Observatory notes that the judge hearing the case, Mr Yelubay Abibullayev, was criticised by Mr Tajimuratov in a video the latter published on his YouTube channel in November 2021 denouncing the judge’s alleged involvement in a corruption case. This creates a conflict of interest and raises concerns over the fairness and impartiality of the trial.
Mr Tajimuratov is being tried along with 21 individuals who participated or allegedly intended to participate in the July 2022 Karakalpak massive protests over the Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s proposed amendments to the Constitution of Uzbekistan, including the removal of the autonomous status of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. The protests were met with a brutal crackdown on civil society in the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, as well as the imposition of a one-month regional state of emergency and an Internet shutdown in the above-mentioned autonomous Republic.
The Observatory recalls that Mr Tajimuratov was abducted on June 30, 2022 by alleged officers of the Uzbekistan National Security Service from his home in the city of Nukus, along with his wife, two brothers and 8-year-old daughter.
On the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, The 29 Principles, Lawyers for Lawyers, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), the International Bar Association’s Human Rights’ Institute (IBAHRI), the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), Front Line Defenders, the Law Society of England and Wales, the Institute for the Rule of Law of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA-IROL), the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, the American Association of the International Commission of Jurists, the Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers, the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, Avocats sans Frontières, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, The Rights Practice, Ordre des Barreaux Francophones et Germanophones de Belgique express their concern about the ongoing detention of Chinese human rights lawyers Li Yuhan. Li Yuhan has been detained in Shenyang City, the capital of the Northeastern province of Liaoning since October 2017. She was charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. Although her case was tried last year, there is still no verdict and her release date remains unknown.
Li Yuhan is a veteran lawyer who started practising in the 1990s, taking on numerous human rights cases such as Falon Gong and Christian underground churches. She also represented Wang Yu, one of the most prominent lawyers arrested in the “709 crackdown” – a mass arrest of human rights lawyers and other activists in 2015. The arrest of Li was regarded as retaliation for her involvement in Wang Yu’s case and other sensitive cases.
It is reported that she has been subjected to torture and ill-treatment while in detention, including insufficient food and being denied to receive adequate and appropriate medical treatment. Also, the authorities tried to force her to plead guilty and postponed her trial a few times until October 2021.
Having been detained for more than five years, her health deteriorated rapidly and she suffers from arrhythmia, fluttering in chest and tremors, coronary heart disease, unstable angina, hyperthyroidism, acute erosive gastritis, cerebral concussion, and cerebral ischemia.
Gunmen have killed a lawyer, Nathan Akatakpo and his client, Lazarus Jerome in Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Jerome from Ihugbogo Community in the LGA was shot dead at Akoh center on Sunday while Akatakpo who is from the same Akoh Kingdom with Jerome was shot dead at about 7:38pm on Monday in front of his house.
The reason for their killing has was not immediately. Spokesperson of the Rivers State Police Command, Grace Iringe-Koko did not respond to text messages to her phone for comments.
But locals in Ahoada told our correspondent that the killings were carried out by cultists in the area.
A resident of the area who identified herself as Blessing said cult-related killings have increased in the area in the last three months.
According to her “People are dying like fowls here. Few weeks ago, more than eight persons were killed in a cult-related shooting.
“Killings in Ahoada East LGA and Akoh kingdom are getting out of hand if something is not done about the hideout of these hoodlums at Odiemude Community”
Akatakpo, a University of Portsmouth trained lawyer was a youth leader and activist.
John Aikpokpo-Martin, the immediate past Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 1st Vice President, had condemned the assassination.
Lawyer and rights activist Hassan Asadi Zeidabadi has been arrested amid Iran’s state crackdown on protests triggered by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reports. Zeidabadi’s wife, Atefeh Khalafi, said on social media that her husband was arrested on November 16 by the intelligence branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Several thousand have been arrested in past weeks, including many protesters, as well as journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, artists and others. The outspoken Zeidabadi was previously jailed for five years over his peaceful activism.
A complaint to hold the Philippine government accountable for the attacks and killings of lawyers, prosecutors and judges has been filed before the United Nations (UN).
The complaint was filed by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) before the office of UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges Margaret Satterthwaite in Geneva, Switzerland.
NUPL is a member of the of the Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Watch.
Incidentally, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla will leave for Geneva on Friday, Nov. 11, to lead the Philippine delegation for the 4th Cycle of the UPR of the Philippines, a preview mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The UPR is “a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States.”
In its complaint, the NUPL cited that it has “recorded 86 killings of lawyers, judges and prosecutors among a total of 262 work-related attacks in the past 15 years.”
“Five of the victims of killings were NUPL members whose clients include indigenous peoples, peasants, farmers, workers, environment advocates, political prisoners and human rights defenders,” it said.
Lawyers for Lawyers, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, The Law Society of England and Wales and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute are concerned about the arbitrary prosecution of Hayet Eljazer and Ayoub Ghedamsi. Mrs Eljazer and Mr. Ghedamsi have been charged with “insulting a public official from the justice system” in connection to their legitimate professional activities. We call on the Tunisian authorities to immediately halt the criminal prosecution of the lawyers.
Hayet Eljazer and Ayoub Ghedamsi are both members of the Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LTDH). They have represented many human rights defenders and worked on cases related to police violence and torture.
Hayet Eljazer and Ayoub Ghedamsi are charged with “insulting a public official from the justice system” according to articles 125 and 126 of the Penal Code. The charges against the lawyers are connected to their representation of a 67-year-old man and his son in a case concerning their ill-treatment, kidnapping and torture. According to the information received, the charges are based on a complaint filed by a Carthage District judge on 30 April 2020 against the two lawyers regarding their request to defer a case to another court due to a lack of impartiality, violation of due process and the concealment of violations of their clients’ rights. The reason for the Judge’s, complaint was that the lawyers presented evidence that their clients were forced to say that they had not been disappeared or tortured at a secret hearing without the presence of their lawyers.
On Wednesday 12 October 2022, the first hearing in the case against Hayet Eljazer and Ayoub Ghedamsi took place. 250 lawyers, including representatives from the Tunis Bar were present at court to show solidarity with the two lawyers. The next hearing is yet to be scheduled. If the lawyers are convicted and sentenced, they would face between two months and six years of imprisonment.
In its upcoming 136th session, the Human Rights Committee will review the fifth state report submitted by the Philippines and will adopt concluding observations that will assist the Philippines in the implementation of the ICCPR. Lawyers for Lawyers welcomed the opportunity to file a submission to inform the Human Rights Committee about the situation of lawyers in the Philippines.
In this submission, Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) reveals that the Philippines has failed to comply with its international human rights commitments to guarantee effective access to legal services provided by an independent legal profession as set out in the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, and subsequently, has failed to comply with article 14 of the ICCPR. The submission contains case examples from lawyers who have been persecuted, harassed and murdered due to their profession as a lawyer.
The submission addresses three key areas of concern: The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, the additional practice of red-tagging and the extrajudicial killings of lawyers. The Anti-Terrorism Act is misused by the Government to unlawfully label lawyers and human rights defenders as terrorists. The practice of red-tagging is a continuous and serious threat to the civil society since individuals or organizations are being publicly labelled as ‘communists’, ‘leftists’ and thus ‘enemies of the state’. The practice of red-tagging has proven to be a grave threat to civil society and freedom of expression. Furthermore, extrajudicial killings of lawyers due to their profession and the violence against them continues to increase. These cases are often not investigated, which creates a culture of impunity.
Given the vital role of lawyers in the protection of the rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights, L4L recommends the Committee to address the position of lawyers when reviewing the State Party’s implementation of the ICCPR. More specifically, L4L demands the Committee to include the following recommendations in its review to the Philippines:
The group urges the new government ‘to take all measures necessary to ensure that legal professionals are able to fulfill their professional obligations safely and without impediment’
The New York City Bar Association (NYCBA) has condemned the attempted assassination of Cebu Port Authority lawyer Karen Quiñanola-Gonzales.
“The New York City Bar Association joins the international community in condemning the attempted assassination of Karen Quiñanola-Gonzales and fears that it may be a harbinger of things to come,” the NYCBA said in a statement.
“As the CHR’s reference to ‘the continuing violence against legal professionals’ indicates, the recent attempt on the life of Quiñanola-Gonzales is by no means an isolated instance,” it added, noting the number of killings of members of the legal profession in the country during the administration of Rodrigo Duterte.
Gonzales and her son, Keith Gonzales, were driving near Hernan Cortes Street in Barangay Tipolo when they were ambushed by motorcycle-riding men.
Mandaue City police have identified the gunman behind the attack as 42-year-old swimming instructor Richard Basalo Delibo.
Lieutenant Colonel Franco Rudolf Oriol, deputy city director for operations of the Mandaue City Police Office, said they filed a complaint for two counts of frustrated murder against Delibo with the City Prosecutor’s Office on Friday, September 16.
A lawyer at the Cebu Port Authority and her son were rushed to a hospital after they were ambushed by unidentified gunmen Thursday evening in Mandaue City.
According to the Mandaue City Police Office, Karen Quiñanola-Gonzales was driving with her 19-year-old son along Hernan Cortes Avenue in Barangay Banilad when the incident happened.
Authorities said the suspects were riding in tandem.
Investigators are establishing the motive of the ambush.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Friday condemned the crime committed against the lawyer on the first day of the rule of law month.
“We call for the swift delivery of justice against all those who do harm and destroy the common good,” the IBP said in a statement.
“We enjoin everyone to work together with us to protect the rights of every person and secure the safety of our community,” it also said. “When we allow, by our inaction or apathy, for violence to flourish, we dim the future of our country.”
The IBP added that its Cebu City chapter will give a reward of ₱50,000 to anyone who can give information leading to the capture of the suspects and all those who may have a hand in the crime.