Tag Archives: Kazakhstan

The Systematic Repression of Lawyers in Central Asia and Eastern Europe

September 12, 2018

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OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2018
Warsaw, Poland
September 12, 2018
Working Session 4

The Systematic Repression of Lawyers in Central Asia and Eastern Europe

Freedom House is gravely concerned by an apparent systematic crackdown on the legal profession by a number of OSCE participating States. Since 2017, restrictive legislative changes and punitive measures targeting individual lawyers were especially egregious in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Crimea. The intense persecution of the legal profession undermines individuals’ essential right of equal access to justice, especially those who openly call for government accountability, such as human rights defenders, journalists, social and political activists. Often, legal action is the only available recourse for individuals and associations to seek redress for violations of their fundamental rights and freedoms.

Due to governments’ threats both to lawyers and their would-be clients, the number of lawyers able to take on human rights cases is dwindling. Without a strong, independent judiciary and lawyers free from harassment, however, governments cannot claim to be fulling their obligations to protect the fundamental human rights of their citizens. Attacking the legal profession appears to be the final step in dismantling a system in which citizens can find recourse against unjust treatment by their own governments within the existing legal framework.

In Azerbaijan, the national parliament amended the ‘Code of Civil and Administrative Procedure’ and the ‘Bar Act’ in October 2017 to state that only members of the Azerbaijan Collegium of Advocates can represent clients in court, substantially cutting the proportion of lawyers to the population to one of the lowest rates in the region.[1]Furthermore, authorities summarily disbar prominent human rights lawyers and deny accreditation to junior advocates. Lawyers including Khalid Baghirov, Aslan Ismayilov, Alaif Hasanov, Elchin Namazov, Yalchin Imanov, Farhad Mehdiyev, Muzaffar Bakhshaliyev, Annaghi Hajibeyli, Aliabbas Rustomov, and Intigam Aliyev have all had their bar membership suspended or revoked shortly after raising human rights concerns on behalf of clients or criticizing the government.[2] Junior lawyers are unable to join the Collegium of Advocates due to its bias against lawyers connected to human rights cases. Samed Rahimli, known for taking on political contentious cases, describes his interviewers from the Collegium of Advocates as being openly hostile towards him and accusing him of trying to destroy the collegium. This systematic persecution of human rights lawyers has left the country with only six practicing human rights lawyers, according to Intigam Aliyev, a human rights lawyer previously jailed for his work.[3]

https://freedomhouse.org/article/systematic-repression-lawyers-central-asia-and-eastern-europe

https://freedomhouse.org/

https://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/Work_by_regions/Europe/Tajikistan-film.aspx

https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Azerbaijan/Azerbaijan-journalists-and-human-rights-activists-left-defenceless-190307

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Kazakhstan: The Legend of Batyrs

September 18, 2018

“Do heroes exist today?”

📢 [Story] – Discover the story of #HRDs Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayanov, two Kazakh lawyers and activists sentenced to five years imprisonment following a trial that did not live up to the internationally accepted standards of #justice.

In May, 2016, Max et Talgat participated in public demonstrations and published posts on their FB accounts criticizing the reforms of the #landcode and were sentenced to five years in prison. In February 2017, Max and Talgat were put on the list of people linked to #terrorist and extremist activities in Kazakhstan.

OMCT with Kadyr Kassiyet (Dignity) and the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law is submitting an Individual Communication to the Human Rights Committee on behalf of Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayanov.

The video-campaign has been organized by the Coalition for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Pana Defenders, supported by the @Netherlands Helsinki Committee

(OMCT Facebook, 18/09/18)

 

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/kazakhstan-un-body-declares-the-detention-of-max-bokayev-and-talgat

 

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/kazakhstan-ongoing-arbitrary-detention-of-max-bokayev-and-talgat

Ukraine/Kazakhstan/Russia/Moldova: Defence for the defenders: Lawyers and attorneys under attack for participation in politically motivated cases

June 29, 2018

The right to defence is one of the fundamental human rights that is enshrined in a number of international agreements. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims the principle of equality of all before the law, the presumption of innocence, and the right to be examined openly and with all the requirements of justice by an independent and impartial court.

In order to exercise their right to defence, prosecuted persons must have full access to legal services provided by independent lawyers and attorneys. According to the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, everyone has the right to ask any lawyer for help in defending their rights and protecting them at all stages of criminal proceedings.

According to the opinion of the European Court of Human Rightslawyers play a key role in maintaining public confidence in the judicial system and act as intermediaries between the public and courts. Thus, they are an important element of the rule of law.

As noted in paragraph 16 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions in an environment free from intimidation and improper interference. Also, lawyers shall not be prosecuted or sanctioned for any acts committed as part of their professional duties.

Unfortunately, in countries where democratic institutions are poorly developed and the rule of law does not work, lawyers and attorneys often become victims of persecution as well as various kinds of pressure and restrictions. This especially concerns those who participate in politically motivated cases.

Lawyers and attorneys are attacked both by state institutions and authorities and by various criminals, against which the state is unable to protect them. This prosecution also involves professional associations that proclaim their aim to protect the rights and interests of lawyers, but are not independent of state bodies.

At the moment, there are no effective mechanisms for monitoring the interference of the state and other entities in the activities of lawyers and attorneys. The solution could consist of adopting a special document that would protect lawyers and attorneys at the international level.

The statutory goals of the Open Dialog Foundation provide for the protection of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the post-Soviet space. This report examines cases of harassment and attacks on lawyers and attorneys in countries such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine,and Turkey. The latter is not a post-Soviet state, but it is a member of the Council of Europe and therefore has international obligations in the field of standards of law, democratic development, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.

https://en.odfoundation.eu/a/8707,defence-for-the-defenders-lawyers-and-attorneys-under-attack-for-participation-in-politically-motivated-cases

#DayoftheEndangeredLawyer

Poland/Tajikistan/Azerbaijan/Kazakhstan/ Russia/Belarus: Next target: legal profession, HDIM side event, Warsaw

September 10, 2018

The legal profession plays a crucial role in ensuring access to justice for all, transparency and accountability of the state, Rule of law and the respect for human rights.

 

Yet, instead of being perceived as a vital player to the justice sector, today lawyers are often targeted by the governments in many OSCE countries for seeking truth and justice. As a result, lawyers often face high risks of persecution, harassment as well as severe sanctions for doing their job.

This side-event aims to specifically discuss the situation of lawyers in Belarus, Russia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. The discussion will extend to consider the latest developments related to the rights of lawyers and their independence in the respective countries, and what impact this has on the overall rule of law and human rights situation.

This side event will take place on 12 September 2018, from 13.00 -15.00 at Hotel Bristol, Warsaw

Moderator: Jurate Guzeviciute, Programme Lawyer, International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute

Presentations and Discussions:

Independence of the legal profession and harassment of lawyers in Eastern Europe and Central Asia:

https://www.icj.org/next-target-legal-profession-hdim-side-event-warsaw/

Kazakhstan: Prominent Kazakh Rights Defender Granted Parole After Six Years In Prison

August 1, 2018

Vadim Kuramshin in 2012

Prominent Kazakh human rights activist Vadim Kuramshin has been granted early release on parole after serving more than 6 1/2 years in prison on extortion charges that his supporters said were politically motivated.

A lawyer for Kuramshin, Muratbek Irge, told RFE/RL that a court in the northeastern city of Oskemen agreed on August 1 to parole Kuramshin.

He will be released in 15 days if the ruling is not appealed and overturned, Irge said.

Kuramshin has become known for his efforts to raise awareness of violations of inmates’ rights in Kazakh penitentiaries, including the one where he served his term.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2012 on an extortion conviction. He denies wrongdoing.

In December 2013, while behind bars, Kuramshin was awarded the prestigious Ludovic-Trarieux international human rights prize.

https://www.rferl.org/a/prominent-kazakh-rights-defender-granted-parole-after-six-years-in-prison/29404713.html

Kazakh human rights defender Vadim Kuramshin will probably be granted early release

https://www.uianet.org/en/news/ludovic-trarieux-international-human-rights-prize-2013-vadim-kuramshin

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/vadim-kuramshin

https://arrestedlawyers.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/defence-for-defenders.pdf

http://www.avocatparis.org/avocats-jusquau-bout-vadim-kuramshin (FRANCAIS)

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(Ludovic Trarieux Facebook, 8/9/18)

Azerbaijan/Kazakhstan/Ukraine: Side Event: Defenceless defenders: addressing the attacks on lawyers in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine

June 22, 2018

This side event at the Human Rights Council takes place on Tuesday, 26 June, 14:00-15:00, room XXVII of the Palais des Nations.  It is organized by the ICJ and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI).

In recent years, lawyers have increasingly been targeted across the world including Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Attempts to impede the work of lawyers through arbitrary disbarments and other disciplinary procedures, criminal or administrative proceedings, physical attacks or intimidation have become an unfortunate new normality in many lawyers’ work.

Lawyers are too often identified with their clients’ cause or specifically targeted in violation of their right to freedom of expression. This side event will discuss challenges faced by lawyers in defending human rights in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

Moderator: Róisín Pillay, ICJ Europe and CIS Programme Director

Speakers:

  • Helene Santos, Senior Fellow–UN Liaison Officer in Geneva for the IBAHRI
  • Fariz Namazov, Lawyer, Member of the Azerbaijan Bar Association
  • Hanna Boryak, Lawyer, Chair of the Committee for the Protection of Advocates’ Rights and advocacy at the Ukrainian National Bar Association
  • Iurii Grygorenko, Lawyer, member of the Committee for the Protection of Advocates’ Rights and Advocacy at the Ukrainian National Bar Association
  • Temur Shakirov, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser Europe and CIS Programme

https://www.icj.org/side-event-defenceless-defenders-addressing-the-attacks-on-lawyers-in-azerbaijan-kazakhstan-and-ukraine/

#HRC38 | Side Event at UN Geneva on « Defenceless #defenders: addressing the attacks on #lawyers in #Azerbaijan#Kazakhstan and #Ukraine » organised by the International Commission of Jurists and International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute

(Red Internacional de Derechos Humanos 26/6/18)

International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2017

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The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has launched its 2017 Annual Review, providing an overview of the IBAHRI’s major activities over the year.

2017 was a difficult year for human rights: since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted 70 years ago, it appears that we are now reaching a point where the universal acceptance of human rights is being eroded. Increasingly polarised political spheres and growing support for populist governments are resulting in policies that scapegoat minorities, attack the under-represented and persecute those who oppose these governments.

In this atmosphere, protection of human rights, the rule of law and an independent legal profession are more important than ever. This makes the work of the IBAHRI more important than ever. Since its establishment in 1995, the IBAHRI has endeavoured to defend fundamental human rights through the promotion and protection of the independence of the legal profession, and by providing members of the global legal community with the tools needed to do the same.

 

As part of its ongoing projects in the Americas, the IBAHRI provided torture-prevention training to legal professionals, including judges and public defenders, across Brazil and Mexico. In El Salvador, the IBAHRI brought a high-level delegation of experts on the rights to justice, truth and historical memory to meet with legal professionals, the executive, armed forces, CSOs and academia with a view to achieving justice effectively and realising the rights of those who suffered human rights abuses as a result of the 12-year civil war. Additionally, the IBAHRI continued to monitor the emblematic trial of Venezuelan Judge María Lourdes Afiuni, and sent open letters to President Donald Trump of the United States, which criticised the President and his administration for actions the IBAHRI felt were ‘diametrically opposed to the defence of human rights’.

In Asia Pacific, the IBAHRI worked with the newly established Independent Lawyers’ Association of Myanmar to continue its work in the country, and has been running a trial observation programme to ensure those responsible for the death of prominent lawyer U Ko Ni are brought to justice. In Timor-Leste, the IBAHRI has consolidated its presence in the country by seeking to strengthen the legal profession and supporting the creation of its first national bar association.

The IBAHRI launched a mentorship programme for junior Azerbaijani lawyers that linked them with more experienced senior lawyers, and held a Law Student Conference in Baku, among other activities intended to advocate for the rights of legal professionals in the country. We also facilitated attendance at various OSCE Meetings for lawyers in GeorgiaKazakhstan and Tajikistan as part of the IBAHRI’s ongoing work in Europe and Central Asia.

https://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/Human-Rights-Institute-Annual-Review-2017.aspx

https://www.protect-lawyers.com/fr/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/07/23/joint-letter-eu-regarding-human-rights-situation-tajikistan

In Tajikistan, reforms undertaken by the Qualifications Committee set up by the Ministry of Justice drastically decreased the number of practising lawyers.

Read more about the situation of Tajik lawyers and the work the IBAHRI has done in partnership with the Tajikistan Barristers’ Union here:https://tinyurl.com/y7rhftx4

(International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute Facebook, 9/5/18)