Tag Archives: Law Society of England & Wales

Refugee lawyer describes harrowing invasion of Ukraine

14/04/22

A Ukrainian lawyer described the harrowing scenes she witnessed after the Russian invasion, telling an ABA panel on April 7 that she was forced to flee her country with her three young children and leave behind her husband.

Alesya Pavlynska, an employment lawyer at the Ukrainian firm Arzinger Law, described her shock as the first missiles shook Kyiv in the early hours of Feb. 24.

Her husband, Vitalii Shestak, told her and their three kids—Maria, Ivan and Oles—that they would need to take shelter. Pavlynska showed the panel a picture of her children bundled up in a frigid cellar and huddled around their phones.

“It seemed to be unreal and not possible in the modern world—in modern Europe,” Pavlynska said of the moment it dawned on her the invasion was happening.

More than 4.6 million Ukrainians have fled into Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldava and Romania. The ABA convened the webinar, “Ukraine’s Refugee Crisis: The Faces of War,” to discuss the ongoing crisis and how its members can help.

[…]

ABA President Reginald M. Turner Jr. echoed Pavlynska’s message about the rule of law in remarks prerecorded for the webinar audience, saying the war and crisis had to be viewed through the lens of the “fundamental premise to advance liberty and justice for all.”

“Lawyers believe not in the rule of force, but in the rule of law. We believe that human rights are the bedrock of life and liberty. Our stake in the rule of law compels us to denounce the Russian invasion and rededicate our support of international institutions that promote peace and security,” Turner said.

Advocates urge fast action

Speaking from London, Ukrainian Bar Association President Anna Ogrenchuk said she wants the international community to form a special tribunal to investigate war crimes after documented atrocities in Bucha. Ogrenchuk says it’s likely war crimes have been committed in other parts of the country where the Russian military is present. She urged the American legal community to use its clout to support the tribunal and gather evidence.

“We need your expertise. We need your help in investigating and documenting all war crimes —when the crimes are still been committed,” Ogrenchuk said.

More should also be done to cripple the Russian economy, she added. The UBA has released several open letters, including ones to international companies and businesses operating in Russia and international law firms, legal associations and regulators.

“Every day of war costs Russia about $20 billion, and this money comes from companies who pay taxes in Russia,” Ogrenchuk said. “A full economic embargo is the only alternative to a very long and damaging war in Ukraine.”

There are approximately 60,000 attorneys in Ukraine, and about half of them are women, Ogrenchuk added. She said her bar association estimates that two-thirds of female lawyers have left the country, but women are currently doing the bulk of legal work because many male lawyers have enlisted in the military.

[…]

https://www.abajournal.com/web/article/at-aba-panel-refugee-lawyer-describes-harrowing-invasion-of-ukraine

WEBINAR – Lawyers assist Ukraine – 20 April 2022 at 9.30 CET

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/ukrainian-human-rights-lawyer-on-what-constitutes-genocide/

https://www.facebook.com/UkrainianNationalBarAssociation

Outrage at Taliban takeover of Afghanistan bar association

02/12/21

Taliban fighters patrol in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan’s Independent Bar Association (AIBA) has attracted strong condemnation from the global legal profession. According to the association’s exiled president, Rohullah Qarizada, on 23 November ’50 armed Taliban’ stormed a meeting of AIBA officials in their office in Kabul. 

Meanwhile a Taliban cabinet directive has stripped the AIBA of powers to license lawyers and required licence holders to re-apply to the Ministry of Justice. The government has taken over the association’s bar account and now has access to the personnel and professional records of 2,500 lawyers, as well as AIBA staff members and committee members. 

In a letter to the secretary general of the United Nations, the International Bar Association said today that the move ‘has completely compromised the independence of the legal profession in Afghanistan’. 

The AIBA was established as an independent organisation in 2008. 

The IBA’s letter requests that the UN add its voice to a public statement denouncing the violation of the legal profession’s independence. It says that the ramifications of the takeover for the rule of law, the administration of justice and the further contraction of the rights of women and girls ‘cannot be overestimated’.  

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/outrage-at-taliban-takeover-of-afghanistan-bar-association/5110804.article

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/12/afghanistan-lawyers-ask-taliban-cabinet-to-restore-independence-of-national-bar-association/

https://sofrep.com/news/more-than-100-ex-afghan-soldiers-are-dead-or-missing-as-the-taliban-give-false-assurances-of-their-safety/

Romania: Robert Roșu released from prison

23/11/21

Robert Roșu released from prison

Lawyers for Lawyers welcomes the news that Robert Roșu, partner at the law firm Tuca Zbarcea & Asociatii in Bucharest, will be released from Rahova prison today after his appeal was admitted by the High Court of Cassation.

On 17 December 2020, the High Court of Justice and Cassation of Romania found lawyer Robert Roșu guilty of participating in the formation of an organized criminal group and of complicity to abuse of office, and sentenced him to 5 years in prison. According to the information received, the criminal case against Mr. Roșu was most likely related to his professional activities in the ‘Băneasa Farm Case’ regarding the restitution of large plots of land in northern Bucharest to the heir of King Carol II of Romania. Mr. Roșu, as the latter’s legal representative, secured the restitution, as well as the restitution of of other property to different clients through administrative procedures. On 7 April 2021, four months after the decision was rendered by the High Court Cassation and Justice, the judgment was finally published and served upon Mr Roșu.

In June 2021, Lawyers for Lawyers and the Law Society of England and Wales expressed concern about his conviction, imprisonment, and alleged procedural irregularities such as lawyers being asked to testify as witnesses in the case in a joint letter. Moreover, in August 2021, Lawyers for Lawyers collected greetings cards from Dutch lawyers in support of Robert Roșu. The cards reached Robert Roșu and the greetings card action was picked up by the local press in Romania.

Lawyers for Lawyers welcomes the decision of the High Court of Cassation to release Robert Roșu.

https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/campaigns/international-rule-of-law/intervention-letters/conviction-and-imprisonment-of-romanian-lawyer-robert-rosu

https://www.uianet.org/en/actions/robert-rosu-continues-be-persecuted-simply-exercising-his-profession

The Philippines: NUPL laments gov’t ‘neglect’ in resolving lawyer killings

08/11/21

The Philippines: Lawyers' group condemns killing of Bukidnon colleague |  IAPL Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers

An organization of lawyers has lamented the alleged government’s neglect in the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators in the killings of lawyers in the country.

In a statement, the Cebu Chapter of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) pointed out the killing on Nov. 6, 2018 of lawyer Benjamin Ramos, one of NUPL founders.

“Since then, more members of the legal profession have been killed under Duterte since 2016,” it said.

“Worse, more activists, peasants, urban poor leaders, and members of mass organizations have been murdered in broad daylight,” it added.

Ramos was shot dead by two unidentified men at the public plaza of Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental. He was the secretary general of the NUPL in Negros.

It also pointed out the last September of Juan Macabadbad, vice chairman of NUPL in Mindanao. He was killed in Surallah, South Cotabato.

“Our call to end the countless attacks against lawyers is stronger than ever,” NUPL-Cebu said.

[…]

https://manilastandard.net/mobile/article/368969

https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/campaigns/international-rule-of-law/news/joint-statements-to-the-un-human-rights-council

https://www.expatica.com/nl/uncategorized/tribunal-for-murdered-journalists-opens-in-the-hague-161072/

Afghanistan’s women judges are in hiding, fearing reprisal attacks from men they jailed

20/09/21

Nabila is one of hundreds of women judges in Afghanistan who have been told they can no longer work.

Tugging at the folds of the traditional hijab dress, two young sisters jostle and laugh to try to get their mother’s attention as she fries onions on the stove.

Along with their 6-month-old sister, the girls are oblivious to the threat they now face from the Taliban, Afghanistan’s new rulers.

Their mother, Nabila, is one of 250 female judges ordered not to return to work by a regime that doesn’t condone women in senior positions. CNN is only using Nabila’s first name for her own protection.

Nabila said she feared reprisals, not only from fundamentalists, but also the men she once jailed. When they came to power, the Taliban opened the gates of prisons, releasing thousands of convicted criminals.

“Now we do not feel safe; the same criminals are going after my own life, the lives of my family,” Nabila said. “God forbid if they seek revenge.”

After the Taliban takeover in mid-August, a few dozen women judges fled Afghanistan, and those left behind are now in hiding, according to Judge Vanessa Ruiz from the US-based International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ).

All of the judges who worked under the former Afghan government — male and female — have been now replaced by Taliban appointees, two judges told CNN.

But Ruiz said women judges feared their gender made them particular targets for a regime that assigns greater value to men.

Many of the women judges presided over the worst cases of violence against women, including rape, murder and domestic abuse.”

They would be angry at any judge who sentenced them, but that a woman had official authority, and sat in judgment of a man, is rage of a completely different order,” said Ruiz.

The IAWJ and other organizations are racing to find a safe passage out for the women — but they say they need more help from the US and other Western nations, before it’s too late.

[…]

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/09/19/asia/afghanistan-women-judges-hnk-dst-intl/index.html

https://www.facebook.com/events/255446273141947

https://www.gofundme.com/f/AFGHANISTAN-CRISIS-RESPONSE-AND-EMERGENCY-RELIEF (URGENT, PLEASE CONTRIBUTE!)

https://www.reuters.com/legal/litigation/trial-lawyer-group-backs-effort-bring-afghan-attorneys-us-2021-09-16/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/09/16/joint-statement-eu-cannot-shirk-its-responsibilities-towards-afghans-need

https://www.iustitia.pl/en/4244-a-fundraiser-for-afghan-judges

https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2021-09-15/debates/C2E85768-9013-4DB9-8BA0-676F78964521/AfghanRelocationsAndAssistancePolicy

https://www.thejournal.ie/taliban-school-girls-afghanistan-5552314-Sep2021/

https://www.jss.fr/Afghanistan__les_acteurs_du_droit_mobilises-2587.awp (FRANCAIS)

Afghan lawyers’ plea to UK: save us from clutches of the Taliban

06/09/21

Lawyers who worked under the previous regime in Afghanistan have told the Gazette directly of the fear they are now living with on a daily basis.

Since the Taliban seizure of power last month following the US and UK withdrawal, law firms have fielded numerous enquiries from people keen to get out of the country.

The Gazette has been contacted by lawyers in Afghanistan and concerned relatives in the UK asking for help and advice. These will be passed to groups working to provide immigration advice.

One UK-based family highlighted the situation of their relatives Mohammed Rasooli, a law professor and former legal adviser to the Afghan presidents and Anisa Rasooli, a judge and nominated for the first woman member of the Afghan Supreme Court. Other family members who worked as a parliamentary reporter and prosecutor in the Ministry of Justice are also still in Afghanistan.

The individuals are currently in hiding since the Taliban takeover and their UK-based relatives said: ‘We are desperate to get some help for our families in Kabul. I have registered their details with the [Foreign Office] and have reached my local MP, but unfortunately we have not had any response yet.’

A prosecutor still living in Afghanistan contacted the Gazette to say he and his family had been living in hiding since the day the Taliban took over his local province. Even before the seizure of power, he had received death threats to his home following the prosecution of Taliban suspects, with the letters stating that no-one would be spared. The lawyer said he had seen reports that the UK government had decided to save people who were in danger and pleaded for help from ministers to save his and his family’s life.

The Law Society has said it is ‘gravely concerned’ about the situation in Afghanistan and the perilous future of those who worked in the justice system under the old regime. There has been particular fear for the 270 women judges and 170 women lawyers and prosecutors based in the country, many of whom were not able to be evacuated before the allied troops left.

The Society said there needs to be a rethinking of the travel and entry requirements for Afghan citizens seeking safety in the UK.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/afghan-lawyers-plea-to-uk-save-us-from-clutches-of-the-taliban/5109683.article

https://www.npr.org/2021/09/05/1034536123/the-taliban-stopped-evacuees-kabul-americans-afghans-airport

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/sep/06/as-the-taliban-overran-afghanistan-australia-told-asylum-seekers-they-should-expect-to-return

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/some-1000-people-awaiting-taliban-flight-clearance-mazar-i-sharif-new-york-times-2021-09-05/

https://www.euronews.com/2021/09/05/afghanistan-taliban-replace-colourful-murals-with-islamic-slogans

May be an image of ‎2 people, people standing, headscarf and ‎text that says "‎Without the presence and participation of women in the politics of the international community, the Taliban should not be recognized! امور در زنان فعال گیری وسهم حضور بدون نباید جهانی جامعه سیاست؛ و حکومتداری !بشناسد رسمیت به را طالبان‎"‎‎

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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Afghanistan/Germany: Lawyers and rights activists at risk in Afghanistan

16/08/21

Germany may need to evacuate as many as 10,000 people from Afghanistan, Chancellor Angela Merkel told party colleagues on Monday, according to party sources.

That includes 2,500 Afghan support staff as well as human rights activists, lawyers and others whom the government sees being at risk if they remain in the country after the Taliban seized Kabul.

[…]

https://thepostman24.com/worldwide_Germany_Markel_afghanistan

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/126084845/amnesty-international-urges-government-to-do-all-it-can-to-help-those-caught-in-afghanistan

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/save-our-afghan-colleagues-urges-united-profession/5109538.article

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/fears-for-female-judges-in-afghanistan/5109533.article

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/afghanistan-foreign-affairs-ministers-must-protect-human-rights

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/germany-must-evacuate-10000-people-afghanistan-merkel-tells-party-2021-08-16/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/08/13/afghanistan-risk-civilians-need-evacuation-protection

https://texasnewstoday.com/the-taliban-are-poised-to-impose-sharia-law-in-afghanistan-threatening-bidens-professed-fighters/415252/

https://www.foreignbrief.com/daily-news/taliban-to-declare-islamic-emirate-of-afghanistan/

https://www.abogacia.es/actualidad/noticias/la-abogacia-espanola-extremadamente-preocupada-por-la-situacion-en-afganistan/ (ESPANOL)

#saveafghanistan

#sosafghanistan

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Six Years After Crackdown, China’s Rights Lawyers ‘Struggling to Exist’

08/07/21

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 211872919_10158840831019071_8791503036099970560_n.jpg

Six years after Beijing police raided the offices and key members of the now-defunct Beijing Fengrui law firm, rights attorneys Wang Yu and Wang Quanzhang say their profession no longer really exists in the wake of a prolonged crackdown by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The July 9, 2015 raid on Fengrui and the arrests of Wang Yu, Wang Quanzhang, and dozens of other rights attorneys, law firm staff, and associated activists launched a nationwide operation targeting the profession on an unprecedented scale.

Less than a decade later, attorneys who continue to take on cases deemed politically sensitive by the CCP can expect to lose their business licenses, which are subject to annual review, or are themselves detained, harassed, or sentenced to jail.

Wang Yu, who was honored by the U.S. as an International Woman of Courage (IWOC) this year, was once again held incommunicado in March after failing to attend an online award ceremony.

The award came as she and her husband Bao Longjun were assisting in the case of Niu Tengyu, who is currently serving a 14-year jail term for allegedly posting a photo of Xi Mingze, daughter of CCP general secretary Xi Jinping, to meme site Zhina Wiki, an act that was later blamed by police on Niu’s Vulgar Wiki.

She says there are still multiple restrictions on her daily life, despite having been released in the wake of the 2015 crackdown.

[…]

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/lawyers-07082021101655.html

https://www.hrichina.org/en/press-work/hric-bulletin/tribute-women-who-resist-sixth-anniversary-709-crackdown

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210708/p2g/00m/0na/059000c

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/709_crackdown

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "International Association o– People's Lowyers (LAPL): WE SUPPORT CHINESE HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS!"
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May be an image of 1 person, standing and text that says "Lawyers in the Netherlands support China's human rights lawyers! LAWYERS LAWYERS #ChinaHumanRightsLawyers #709Crackdown"

Romania: Joint letter on conviction and imprisonment Robert Roșu

15/06/21

Joint letter on conviction and imprisonment Robert Roșu

In a joint letter Lawyers for Lawyers and the Law Society of England and Wales express concern about the conviction and imprisonment of lawyer Robert Roșu from Romania.

On 17 December 2020, the High Court of Justice and Cassation of Romania found lawyer Robert Roșu, partner at the law firm Tuca Zbarcea & Asociatii in Bucharest, guilty of participating in the formation of an organized criminal group and of complicity to abuse of office, and sentenced him to 5 years in prison.

According to the information received, the criminal case against Mr. Roșu is most likely related to his professional activities in the  ‘Băneasa Farm Case’ regarding the restitution of large plots of land in northern Bucharest to the heir of King Carol II of Romania.

Mr. Roșu, as the latter’s legal representative, secured the restitution, as well as the restitution of of other property to different clients through administrative procedures. In December 2015, Mr. Roșu was charged with the formation of an organized criminal group, complicity to abuse of office, influence peddling, and money laundering and placed under house arrest for three months. We believe that Mr Rosu’s conviction is related to his work as a lawyer, specifically his work on the above-mentioned restitution cases. In March 2016, a judge of the Criminal Division of the High Court of Cassation and Justice found that Mr. Roșu’s actions “fall within the limits of the activities normally carried out by a lawyer”. On 11 March 2016, Mr. Roșu was released from house arrest.

However, the National Anticorruption Directorate (NAD) decided that the criminal prosecution against Mr. Roșu should continue and indicted him in May 2016. In June 2019, the Brașov Court of Appeals acquitted Mr. Roșu of all charges, establishing that there was no indication that Mr. Roșu committed any of the crimes with which he had been charged.  The NAD decided to appeal the sentence issued by the Brasov Court of Appeals before the High Court of Cassation and Justice. In the view of the NAD’s prosecutors, Mr. Roșu was criminally guilty for his “mere presence” alongside his client in proceedings before a restitution commission, for using “an important volume of information referring to legal terminology”, and for excessively “persuasive” pleadings.

[…]

https://www.ecba.org/content/index.php/projects/human-rights/750-hr-committee-acts-in-defence-of-lawyers-rights-in-romania-in-the-case-of-robert-rosu

https://ecba.org/content/index.php/projects/human-rights/810-ecba-human-rights-committee-statement-on-the-lawyer-robert-rosu-case

https://www.uianet.org/en/actions/robert-rosu-continues-be-persecuted-simply-exercising-his-profession

(ROMANESC)

https://www.mediafax.ro/justitie/exclusiv-rapoarte-inspectia-judiciara-a-constatat-ca-dna-a-incalcat-independenta-justitiei-apara-judecatorii-si-respinge-cererile-procurorilor-in-cazul-robert-rosu-20086365