Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned about the recent disbarment of Sergey Sizintsev, a senior partner at the De Facto law firm in Kazakhstan and former Executive Director of the Republican Bar Association.
According to our information, Sergey Sizintsev served as the Executive Director of the Republican Bar Association from 2016 to 2018. In this capacity, he actively criticized the law ‘On the Professional Activities of Advocates and Legal Assistance’, adopted in July 2018, which could undermine the independence of the legal profession in Kazakhstan. Moreover, he made public statements in multiple international and national settings with respect to issues related to the independence of the legal profession and has been critical about the work and functioning of the Ministry of Justice.
On 23 October 2018, Sizintsev was unexpectedly dismissed from his position as Executive Director of the Republic Bar Association. In March 2019, disbarment proceedings against him were initiated by the Ministry of Justice, based on Article 44 of the 2018 law ‘On the Professional Activities of Advocates and Legal Assistance’. The official ground for these proceedings was that Sizintsev from 2016 to 2018 occupied the function of Executive Director of the National Bar Association, while at the same time continuing his legal practice and received salary for both functions.
On 21 May 2019, Sergey Sizintsev was disbarred by the Petropavlovsk Court. The court stated that Mr Sizintsev violated the law ‘On the Professional Activities of Advocates and Legal Assistance’, which would prohibit legal practice alongside paid employment that is not related to educational, scientific or creative activities.
A prominent Kazakh human rights lawyer who aided a woman who helped expose “reeducation camps” for Muslims in neighboring China says she believes her dog was poisoned in a fatal attack meant to frighten her.
Aiman Omarova, who also represents victims of sexual abuse and was a recipient of the U.S. State Department’s International Women of Courage Award for 2018, said that she found her dog dead in the backyard of her home in Almaty early on June 5.
The dog was 5 years old and had been in good health, Omaraova said, adding that he was a friendly pet and that she had never had any trouble with neighbors over him.
“Most likely, my dog was poisoned. And I am confident that it is because of my professional activities,” said Omarova, who filed a complaint with the police.
She said that earlier this year somebody had hung a dead cat on the gate of her home in what she believes was meant as a warning.
Omarova specializes in seeking justice for victims of sexual abuse, mainly women and children, and also represents people who believe they are being prosecuted for political reasons or to stifle dissent in tightly controlled Kazakhstan.
Ранее Сергей Сизинцев неоднократно подчеркивал, что минюст решил отозвать его лицензию из-за его критики в адрес поправок в закон об адвокатской деятельности
Критиковавший поправки в законодательство известный адвокат Сергей Сизинцев лишился лицензии в Северо-Казахстанской области.
«Суд решил исковое ГУ «Министерство юстиции РК» о лишении лицензии на занятие адвокатской деятельностью Сизинцева Сергея Васильевича удовлетворить, лишить Сизинцева С.В. государственной лицензии на занятие адвокатской деятельностью, выданной МЮ РК 8 апреля 2011года. Взыскать с Сизинцева в доход местного бюджета госпошлину в размере Т1263», – огласила во вторник решение судья Петропавловского городского суда №2 Лариса Крюкова.
Иск к Сизинцеву о лишении лицензии на занятие адвокатской деятельностью минюст в лице департамента юстиции СКО подал в феврале. Основанием послужили результаты проведенной проверки на предмет наличия судимости и занятия предпринимательской и иной оплачиваемой деятельностью адвокатами Северо–Казахстанской коллегии адвокатов.
#Kazakhstan 6 mars 2019 : procédure de radiation du ministère de la Justice du Kazakhstan contre Sergey Sizintsev, ancien directeur exécutif du Conseil National du barreau du Kazakhstan et président élu du conseil consultatif scientifique du Conseil National des #avocats. pic.twitter.com/BDUjGEJOn6
N.B.: Rights lawyer Sergey Sizintsev has been disbarred. A complete court decision has not yet been released, but he stated that he will appeal the decision.
Last week a trial observer with the IBA’s Human Rights Institute attended a court hearing in Kazakhstan. The court heard a case filed by the Ministry of Justice requesting the removal of lawyer Sergey Sizintsev’s license to practice law. Mr Sizintsev was accused of practicing law while holding a paid position as Executive Director of the Republican Bar Association between 2016-2018.
In court, he was represented by 18 fellow lawyers. A day later, the court delivered its judgement for Mr Sizintsev to be disbarred. The court stated that Mr Sizintzev violated the Law on Lawyers’ Activity and Legal Aid prohibiting legal practice alongside paid employment that is not related to educational, scientific or creative activities.
However, the court failed to take into account Article 33 (11) of the same Law, which explicitly allows lawyers to take up paid elective or appointive office in a bar association, Republican Bar Association or international public bar associations.
Mr Sizintsev was unexpectedly dismissed from his position as the Executive Director of the Republican Bar Association in October 2018. While Executive Director of the Republic Bar, Mr Sizintsev was very vocal about the independence of the legal profession in Kazakhstan and actively criticized a highly restrictive draft law proposed by the Ministry of Justice in 2017.
The IBAHRI is concerned about the growing number of incidents of intimidation and harassment of lawyers in Kazakhstan. Following the adoption of the Law on Lawyers’ Activity and Legal Aid in July 2018, the government continues to strengthen its control over the legal profession in Kazakhstan, thus distancing itself from the standards of the international legal community.
In the report, Lawyers for Lawyers expressed concerns about the newly passed law ‘On the Professional Activities of Advocates and Legal Assistance’ for it could undermine the independence of the legal profession.
Lawyers for Lawyers also highlighted that the Kazakh authorities do not always uphold the necessary guarantees for the proper functioning of the legal profession in practice. Lawyers are regularly subjected to improper interference or attempts to put pressure on them by members of law enforcement agencies or investigative bodies. Furthermore, lawyers regularly sometimes do not have the opportunity to meet with their clients in full confidentiality.
Today, the ICJ expressed concern at the initiation of disbarment proceedings by the Ministry of Justice of Kazakhstan against Sergey Sizintsev, former Executive Director of the National Bar Association and the newly-elected head of the Scientific-Consultative Board of the National Bar Association.
The official ground for disbarment of Sizintsev is his work as the Director the National Bar Association in 2016-2018 while continuing his legal practice at the same time.
On his facebook public account, however, Sizintsev alleged that this initiative is not related to the officially stated grounds, and that in fact continuing to practice while working as Director of the Bar Association is clearly permitted by the Kazakhstan’s law. Rather, he alleges, he is being pursued for his criticism of the law “On lawyers’ activity and legal aid” as well as his public statements in different international and national fora in regard to issues related to the independence of the legal profession.
The ICJ recalls that freedom of expression and association, in particular, constitute essential requirements for the proper and independent functioning of the legal profession and must be guaranteed by law and in practice.
Police in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, detained several activists and journalists for the second day in a row on December 17.
Activists said on Facebook that police detained Bakhytzhan Toreghozhina, the head of the human rights foundation Ar.Rukh.Khaq (Dignity, Spirit, Truth), lawyer Gulnara Zhuaspaeva, the founder of the opposition DAT newspaper Ermurat Bapi, civic activists Rinat Rafkhat, Erlan Qaliev, Suiyindik Aldabergenov, Geroikhan Qystaubaev, and several others.
Police did not explain the reason for the detentions.
On December 16, police in Almaty briefly detained several human rights activists who attempted to celebrate the 27th anniversary of its independence from the former Soviet Union and to commemorate the victims of police crackdowns in 2011 and 1986.
The December 16 police crackdown came as activists attempted to gather near the Independence monument in central Almaty to commemorate people killed by police during oil worker protests in the western town of Zhanaozen on December 16, 2011 and during mass anti-Soviet demonstrations in Almaty in December 1986.