Tag Archives: International Commission of Jurists

Egypt: Letter on the arrest and detention of Youssef Mansour

12/04/22

In a letter Lawyers for Lawyers expresses serious concern over the arbitrary arrest, subsequent disappearance and ongoing detention of Egyptian human rights lawyer Youssef Mansour.

According to the information we received, on 24 March 2022, Mr Mansour was arrested at his domicile by a group of officers from the National Security Forces, who reportedly failed to present an arrest warrant. The mobile phone and laptop of Mr Mansour were seized by the officers. We understand that, prior to his arrest, Mr Mansour wrote a post on social media denouncing the detention conditions in the Tora Maximum Security Prison.

Mr Mansour was disappeared in an undisclosed location for two days and was not presented before any investigative body until 26 March 2022, where he appeared before the Supreme State Security Persecution (SSSP) in Cairo. The SSSP ordered the pre-trial detention of Mr Mansour for a period of fifteen days in Albssaten Police station. Mr Mansour is detained in relation to case no. 330/2022 and accused of ‘joining an illegal group’, ‘inciting the commission of terrorist crimes’ and ‘publishing false news inside and outside Egypt’.

We call upon the Egyptian authorities to release Youssef Mansour and drop all charges against him unless credible evidence is presented in proceedings that respect fair trial guarantees, and put an end to all acts of harassment against Youssef Mansour, including at the judicial level.

[…]

https://practicesource.com/egypt-arbitrary-arrest-and-detention-of-rights-lawyer-youssef-mansour/

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/news/three-egyptian-activists-end-hunger-strike-tora-prison

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/egypt-sexual-violence-detainees-human-rights-report

Belarus: ICJ deplores the continuing reprisals against independent lawyers

01/02/22

Reprisals against independent lawyers in Belarus must end, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said today.

The ICJ calls on the Bar Association of Belarus, the Bar Association of Minsk, and the Ministry of Justice to cease the practice of the use of “re-certification” procedures, disciplinary proceedings, and disbarments as an effective means of reprisals against lawyers for defending the rights and interests of their clients.

“The multiple cases of disbarments or disqualifications of lawyers in Belarus, which have continued since the contested Presidential elections in 2020, are clearly intended to silence independent lawyers who act in accordance with their professional duties”, said Temur Shakirov, Senior Legal Adviser of the ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme. “Such attacks on the legal profession have a chilling effect and deprive the profession of those lawyers who defend their clients’ human rights guaranteed under international human rights law”, he added.

In the latest case of apparent reprisal, on 27 January 2022, the Ministry of Justice declared Alexander Filanovich to be “incapable” of performing his duties as a lawyer due to “insufficient qualifications.” This decision comes after Alexander Filanovich did not pass certification by the Qualification Commission on 26 January 2022. He later announced via his Facebook page that his license would be revoked within a month. Alexander Filanovich previously served as a lawyer for Sofia Sapega, a Russian citizen detained along with blogger Roman Protasevich in Minsk, after the Belarusian authorities forcibly landed a Ryanair plane flying from Greece to Lithuania.

The ICJ has previously expressed concern over the growing number of disciplinary cases in Belarus, including disbarments of lawyers, particularly those who have represented opposition members, activists, and political opposition. This included the decision to disbar lawyer Natalia Matskevich, who previously represented former presidential candidate Victor Babariko. The ICJ also spoke out regarding the disbarments of Dmitry Layevsky, Aleksey Telegin, Valery Zvyagintsev, Yekaterina Zheltonoga, Andrey Gashinsky, Andrey Mochalov, Mikhail Bondrachuk.

[…]

https://motolko.help/en-news/two-lawyers-did-not-pass-certification-in-the-ministry-of-justice/

https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/110195/belarus-statement-spokesperson-political-prisoners_en

Political Prisoners in Belarus

https://www.ibanet.org/Belarus-the-human-cost-of-the-crackdown-on-dissent

The Philippines: Cease dangerous practice of red-tagging human rights defenders

31/01/22

The Philippine authorities must refrain from ‘red-tagging’ human rights defenders and activists, and amend the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 to conform with international human rights law and standards, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said in a new legal briefing published today.

In the Philippines, State authorities have branded human rights defenders, labor leaders, public interest lawyers, journalists, political opposition, religious groups and other activists as “terrorists” and/or “communists” without substantial proof of any unlawful conduct, in a practice locally known as ‘red-tagging’.

The legal briefing, Danger in Dissent: Counterterrorism and Human Rights in the Philippines, underscores how this practice often has deadly consequences, with many of those red-tagged by State authorities being subsequently killed or injured by unidentified assailants. There is often no effective investigation and accountability for such killings or any accountability for the red-tagging by government officials.

The legal briefing highlights how the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which may be used to further extend the practice of red-tagging, is incompatible with international human rights law and standards.

For instance, the Act contains an overbroad definition of terrorism, permits potentially unwarranted government surveillance and requests for data, and allows the arrest and detention of any person suspected of committing terrorist acts for up to 24 days without a judicial warrant, among other problematic provisions. Despite these flawed provisions, in December 2021, the Supreme Court of the Philippines upheld the constitutionality of most of the Act, only striking down two provisions of the Act.

[…]

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/01/17/philippines-end-deadly-red-tagging-activists

https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/topstories/nation/816966/killing-of-cavite-prosecutor-reminder-of-country-s-horrible-state-of-law-de-lima/story/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/01/13/philippines-presidential-candidates-should-address-rights

https://www.karapatan.org/ntf+elcacs+red+tagging+underscores+urgency+of+passing+bill+on+protection+of+rights+defenders?tztc=1

Russia declares rights lawyer who defended Navalny’s group ‘foreign agent’

08/11/21

A top Russian human rights lawyer who defended the Anti-Corruption Foundation of jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny was added to the Justice Ministry’s list of “foreign agents” on Monday.

Ivan Pavlov and four other lawyers were placed on the list, now comprising 93 names, of rights activists, journalists, media outlets and others who the ministry says are receiving foreign funding to carry out political activity.

Those listed are subjected to stringent financial reporting requirements and obliged to preface anything they publish with a disclaimer stating they are foreign agents, a term with negative connotations suggestive of spying.

On his social media channel, Pavlov greeted it as a badge of honour.

“To become a ‘foreign agent’ today is almost like receiving a state prize for special services in the area of freedom of speech and information,” he said. “The long list of honorees includes so many brilliant journalists and rights defenders that it would even be kind of hurtful not to be one of them.”

Pavlov came under criminal investigation in April after he was accused of disclosing classified information in his defence of former journalist Ivan Safronov, who is being held on treason charges that he denies.

Earlier this year, Pavlov led the defence of Navalny’s political network at a series of hearings that were closed to the public, which resulted in the groups being banned as “extremist”.

Navalny himself is in jail for parole violations over an embezzlement case he says was trumped up. He was arrested in Moscow this year after flying back from Germany where he had been recovering from a nerve agent poisoning in Russia.

[…]

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/russia-declares-rights-lawyer-who-defended-navalny-s-group–foreign-agent-/47094256

https://meduza.io/en/news/2021/11/08/russia-declares-russian-lgbt-network-a-foreign-agent-along-with-exiled-lawyer-ivan-pavlov

https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/russia-declares-rights-lawyer-ivan-pavlov-who-defended-kremlin-critic-alexei-navalnys-group-foreign-agent-2603723

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Pavlov_(lawyer)#:~:text=Ivan%20Y.,regional%20freedom%20of%20information%20legislation.

https://www.kyivpost.com/article/opinion/op-ed/halya-coynash-lawyer-detained-in-russian-occupied-crimea-and-ordered-to-strip-naked.html

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/10/26/russian-authorities-arrest-crimean-tatar-lawyer-while-representing-his-clients

https://www.rbc.ru/politics/08/11/2021/618961d49a794763b8eea249 (RUSSIAN)

Belarusian authorities punish lawyers defending human rights

28/10/21

Four lawyers who represented jailed former presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka have been banned from the profession. At least 27 lawyers have already been barred from practising in reprisal for speaking out against the recent wave of repression in Belarus.

On October 25, the Minsk Bar Association disbarred prominent Belarusian defense lawyer Natalia Matskevich, the latest in a wide-raging and politically motivated crackdown on lawyers.

Matskevich is one of four lawyers who represented Viktar Babaryka, former presidential contender arrested on politically motivated charges in June 2020 in the run-up to the August 9 election. In July 2021, Supreme Court sentenced Babaryka to 14 years in prison for “grand bribery” and “laundering of illicit funds.”

On October 20, the Justice Ministry suspended the license of Evgeni Pylchenka, a lawyer who also represented Babaryka, pending the outcome of a disciplinary case against him. Matskevich’s disbarment and Pylchenka’s suspension came soon after they had filed an appeal in Babaryka’s case. Their colleagues said these sanctions were “absurd” and based on “ridiculous” allegations, including “some [supposedly] incorrectly worded questions to witnesses during trial.”

In July, days after Babaryka’s verdict, authorities stripped his then-lawyer Dmitry Layevsky of his attorney’s license, citing “inappropriate comments about the work of his colleagues.” Prior to his disbarment, Layevsky had faced pressure from the authorities and the Minsk Bar Association.

In October 2020, the Justice Ministry terminated the license of Aliaksandr Pylchenka, another prominent member of Babaryka’s defense team, over supposed “incompetent comments to mass media”

[…]

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/10/26/belarusian-authorities-retaliate-against-lawyers-defending-human-rights

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/10/07/belarus-authorities-purge-human-rights-defenders

Russia: ICJ denounces harassment of lawyer Ivan Pavlov

15/10/21

The Ministry of Justice demanded that the former head of Team 29, Ivan Pavlov, be deprived of his lawyer status

Russian authorities must immediately withdraw their motion to disbar lawyer Ivan Pavlov and stop their harassment of the lawyer as a result of his professional duties, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said.

“The multiple attempts to disbar Ivan Pavlov send a clear signal to lawyers in Russia that their independence is at serious risk” said Roisin Pillay, Director of the ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme.

“The pattern of harassment by authorities is designed to deter lawyers from representing clients in certain high-profile cases. But international standards protect the independence of lawyers and stipulate that lawyers should never be identified with their clients’ causes”.

The ICJ calls on the authorities of the Russian Federation to withdraw the motion against Pavlov to ensure that he does not face adverse consequences for diligently carrying out his professional duties and that he continues to freely exercise his profession.

On 20 September, the St Petersburg Department of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation submitted a motion to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Ivan Pavlov seeking his disbarment. No alternative measures were suggested by the Ministry.

The ICJ is concerned that the grounds of disbarment threaten Ivan Pavlov’s freedom of expression and seek to penalise him for the representation of his client.  By way of example, one of the grounds for disbarment cited by the Ministry of Justice is that by giving interviews to the media he carried out “an attempt to put pressure on the investigation and the court by unilaterally submitting information to the media and presenting the public with distorted data on the investigation of a criminal case”.

Among the other grounds for the disbarment sought by the Ministry of Justice are failure to attend investigative actions, an alleged unwarranted transcription of state secret information from a case file, and presidency of an NGO recognised by the authorities as “undesirable”.

Pavlov rejects these allegations as unsubstantiated or factually incorrect.

Previously, in 2020, the Ministry of Justice sought disbarment of Ivan Pavlov and appealed the refusal of the St Petersburg Bar Association to disbar him. On 30 September, the Kuibyshev District Court terminated the proceedings, as the Ministry of Justice withdrew the suit. Yet, the key points from these proceedings were used in the new motion seeking Pavlov’s disbarment submitted on 20 September.

[…]

http://rapsinews.com/judicial_news/20211013/307456538.html

https://remonews.com/russia/the-ministry-of-justice-explained-the-request-to-deprive-pavlov-of-the-status-of-lawyer-politics-rbc/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Pavlov_(lawyer)

(FRANCAIS)
(ESPANOL)

European Court of Human Rights: CASE OF DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS RESOURCE CENTRE AND MUSTAFAYEV v. AZERBAIJAN

14/10/21

[…]

INTRODUCTION

1.  The present two applications concern the restrictions imposed on the bank accounts of the applicants and on the freedom of movement of the applicant by the domestic authorities. The applicants raise various complaints under Articles 6, 11, 13, 18 and 34 of the Convention, Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention and Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention.

THE FACTS

2.  The applicants’ details and the names of their representatives are listed in the Appendix.

3.  The Government were represented by their Agent, Mr Ç. Əsgərov.

  1. BACKGROUND INFORMATION

4.  The applicant is a lawyer and a member of the Azerbaijani Bar Association. He specialised in protection of human rights and has represented applicants in a large number of cases before the Court.

5.  He is also the founder and chairman of the applicant association, a non-governmental organisation specialising in legal education and protection of human rights. The applicant association was registered by the Ministry of Justice on 30 June 2006 and acquired the status of a legal entity.

6.  On 22 April 2014 the Prosecutor General’s Office opened criminal case no. 142006023 under Articles 308.1 (abuse of power) and 313 (forgery by an official) of the Criminal Code in connection with alleged irregularities in the financial activities of a number of non-governmental organisations. The decision did not provide an exhaustive list of the non-governmental organisations against which criminal proceedings were instituted but referred to the activities of some non-governmental organisations, without citing the name of the applicants.

7.  Soon thereafter the bank accounts of numerous non-governmental organisations and civil society activists were frozen by the domestic authorities within the framework of criminal case no. 142006023. The domestic proceedings concerning the freezing of those bank accounts are the subject of the present two and other applications pending before the Court (see, for example the communicated cases, Imranova and Others v. Azerbaijan, nos. 59462/14 and 4 others; Economic Research Centre and Others v. Azerbaijan, nos. 74254/14 and 5 others; and Abdullayev and Others v. Azerbaijan, nos. 74363/14 and 7 others).

8.  Various human rights defenders and civil society activists were also arrested within the framework of the same criminal proceedings in connection with their activities within or with various non-governmental organisations. The domestic proceedings concerning the arrest and pre-trial detention of some of those human rights defenders and civil society activists have already been examined by the Court (see, for example, Rasul Jafarov v. Azerbaijan, no. 69981/14, 17 March 2016; Mammadli v. Azerbaijan, no. 47145/14, 19 April 2018; Aliyev v. Azerbaijan, nos. 68762/14 and 71200/14, 20 September 2018; and Yunusova and Yunusov v. Azerbaijan (no. 2), no. 68817/14, 16 July 2020).

9.  In July 2014 the applicant was invited to the Prosecutor General’s Office where he was questioned about the applicant association’s activities. Between July 2014 and 2016 he was again questioned, on several occasions, by the prosecuting authorities about the same activities.

  1. IMPOSITION OF THE RESTRICTIONS ON THE APPLICANTS’ BANK ACCOUNTS
    1. In respect of the applicant association’s bank accounts

10.  Following a request submitted by the Prosecutor General’s Office, on 19 May 2014 the Nasimi District Court, relying on Article 248 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (“the CCrP”), issued an attachment order in respect of all bank accounts of the applicant association hosted in the International Bank of Azerbaijan, pending the investigation (cinayət təqibinin davam etdiyi müddət ərzində), in criminal case no. 142006023. The order referred to the prosecuting authorities’ request according to which there was evidence that the amount of 11,993 US dollars, received on 14 May 2014 by the applicant association from the United States of America’s National Endowment for Democracy, constituted the object of a criminal offence and was used “as its instrument”. According to the order, it was amenable to appeal within three days after its announcement. It appears from the transcripts of the Nasimi District Court’s hearing of 19 May 2014 that it was not public and was held in the absence of the applicant association’s representative. The case file does not contain any document indicating that the applicant association was provided with a copy of the order.

11.  According to the applicant association, on an unspecified date in July 2014 its chairman, the applicant, went to the local branch of the International Bank of Azerbaijan where he was informed by a bank official of the attachment order.

12.  On 14 July 2014 the applicant association asked the Nasimi District Court for a copy of the attachment order and received it on the same day.

13.  On 16 July 2014 the applicant association appealed against the Nasimi District Court’s order of 19 May 2014, claiming a breach of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention. It submitted that an attachment order could not be taken in respect of its bank accounts within the meaning of Article 248 of the CCrP since neither the applicant association nor its members were accused in any criminal proceedings. It also noted that an attachment order could be taken within the meaning of Article 248.1 of the CCrP only for the purposes of ensuring the payment of a civil claim or the confiscation of property when provided for by criminal law. However, criminal case no. 142006023 was instituted under Articles 308.1 and 313 of the Criminal Code which did not provide for confiscation of property as a sanction. Lastly, it pointed out that the attachment order was disproportionate since, even assuming that there were doubts about the origin of the money received from the United States of America’s National Endowment for Democracy, the attachment order should have concerned only the impugned amount, and not all the bank accounts of the applicant association. Together with its appeal, the applicant association also lodged a request for restoration of the time-limit for lodging an appeal. In support of its restoration request, it submitted that it had never been informed of the Nasimi District Court’s hearing of 19 May 2014 and had obtained a copy of the impugned order only on 14 July 2014.

14.  On 18 July 2014 the Nasimi District Court dismissed the applicant association’s request for restoration of the time-limit for lodging an appeal. The court found that the applicant association had failed to submit any evidence showing that there was a valid reason for missing the three-day time-limit for lodging an appeal. The decision did not address the applicant association’s arguments concerning the court’s failure to inform it of its hearing of 19 May 2014 or to provide it with a copy of the impugned order of its own initiative.

15.  On 21 July 2014 the applicant association appealed against that decision, reiterating its previous arguments.

16.  On 24 July 2014 the Baku Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, without examining the applicant association’s arguments in respect of the restoration of the time-limit for lodging an appeal.

[…]

FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,

  1. Decides to join the applications;
  2. Declares the applications admissible;
  3. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention in respect of both applicants;
  4. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention in respect of both applicants;
  5. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention on account of the travel ban imposed on the applicant by the prosecuting authorities;
  6. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention on account of the travel ban imposed on the applicant by the domestic courts;
  7. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 18 of the Convention taken in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention in respect of both applicants and in conjunction with Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention in respect of the applicant;
  8. Holds

(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicants, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:

(i) EUR 8,000 (eight thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, to the applicant association in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage;

(ii) EUR 15,000 (fifteen thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, to the applicant in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage;

(iii) EUR 1,900 (one thousand and nine hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants, in respect of costs and expenses, to be paid directly into the bank account of their representative, Mr R. Mustafazade;

(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;

  1. Dismisses the remainder of the applicants’ claim for just satisfaction.

https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng#%22documentcollectionid2%22:%5B%22GRANDCHAMBER%22,%22CHAMBER%22%5D,%22itemid%22:%5B%22001-212139%22%5D

https://www.turan.az/ext/news/2021/10/free/politics_news/en/8592.htm/001

https://larochesuryon.maville.com/actu/actudet_-l-azerbaidjan-condamne-par-la-cedh-pour-avoir-paralyse-le-travail-d-une-ong-_54135-4876008_actu.Htm (FRANCAIS)

https://www.ouest-france.fr/europe/azerbaidjan/l-azerbaidjan-condamne-par-la-cedh-pour-avoir-paralyse-le-travail-d-une-ong-e873f226-2cd4-11ec-9285-f388b2ea32b0

Ukraine: ICJ expresses concern for attacks to judges and lawyers before UN Human Rights Council

05/10/21

The ICJ today urged the UN Human Rights Council to call on Ukrainian authorities to uphold judicial independence and protect lawyers under attack for their work during the interactive dialogue with the Deputy High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Ukraine.

The statement reads as follows:

“Madam President,

The International Commission of Jurists deplores the political interference with judicial independence in Ukraine.

Despite the annulment by the Supreme Court of the Presidential Decree removing the President of the Constitutional Court from his post, Justice Olexandr Tupytskyi has not been reinstated.

The ICJ considers that the presidential decrees that removed Constitutional Court Justices Oleksandr Tupytskyi and Oleksandr Kasminin, outside of the existing procedure, violate the obligation to uphold the independence of the judiciary.

The ICJ is concerned at cases of unwarranted interference with the work and independence of lawyers, in particular searches and arrests of lawyers. From April to June 2021 more than 110 such cases were reported. In 2020, the ICJ identified a pattern of threats, harassment and other attacks on lawyers in Ukraine, including those who defend human rights.

[…]

https://ccu.gov.ua/en/publikaciya/oleksandr-tupytskyi

Turkey: 48 bar associations condemn pro-government newspaper for targeting colleagues protesting hate crimes against Kurds

27/07/21

Forty-eight Turkish bar associations on Sunday condemned the pro-government Yeni Şafak daily for targeting 15 bar associations that have protested hate crimes against Kurdish citizens in Turkey.

The statement said bar associations had the duty to uphold democratic principles and stand against hate speech and crimes. It added that Yeni Şafak had not only targeted the bar associations in question but also used discriminatory and hateful language in its piece.

According to the statement the crimes against Kurds were not sporadic incidents but the result of mounting tension against minorities. Nihat Eren of the Diyarbakır Bar Association said the discriminatory language used by the media has also been adding fuel to the fire. “I condemn media outlets that are trying to downplay hate crimes and hate speech,” he added.

The 48 bar associations had recently condemned a series of hate crimes against Kurds in various Turkish cities. In its July 23 edition Yeni Şafak called the associations “Barons of Qandil,” implying that the associations were working for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Yeni Şafak said the attacks on Kurds were not hate crimes but “ordinary disputes and disagreements” and that the bar associations were causing ethnic clashes with their statements.

[…]

Burma: Mandalay University law student sentenced to 3 years in jail

13/07/21

Image

https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/father-says-he-is-worried-about-health-of-detained-daughter

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/stress-07082021183938.html

https://abaruleoflaw.blogspot.com/2021/07/aba-president-patricia-refo-released.html