Tag Archives: Law Society of England & Wales

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

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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

Egypt: Court orders release of labour lawyer Haitham Mohammadein, immediately charged and detained

10/03/21

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https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/detention-and-prosecution-haytham-mohamadeen

https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/egypt-stop-the-crackdown-of-freedom-of-expression/

(ARABIC)
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Egypt: Update on Detained Labour Lawyer Haytham Mohamadeen | IAPL  Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers

UK: Back to basics on protecting lawyers

08/02/21

Image result for The Law Society Gazette

Not associating lawyers with their clients is a UN basic principle, but this has not stopped the demonisation – often by government – of those in the profession for merely discharging their duties

It is now three decades since a United Nations conference adopted a global set of safeguards for an independent legal profession. The so-called basic principles were adopted at a 1990 conference in Havana (where president Fidel Castro assured delegates that Cuba was ‘virtually free from many forms of contemporary crime’). One of the most treasured of those principles is the statement: ‘Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.’

This noble sentiment has not prevented the persecution of lawyers across the world for discharging their functions. To take one example, the Turkey campaign group Arrested Lawyers states that, since 2016, 450 lawyers have been sentenced to a total of 2,786 years in prison for alleged involvement in terrorism: in several cases their ‘crime’ was to act on behalf of lawyers already jailed.

The UK should not be too smug: the government continues to reject calls for an inquiry into what it has admitted is strong evidence of security forces collusion in the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.  

More recent identifications of lawyers with their clients have involved words rather than violence, but are disturbing nonetheless. Last month the profession was unanimous in its support when distinguished barrister Dinah Rose QC came under attack for accepting a brief to appear in a Privy Council case concerning the legality of gay marriage in the Cayman Islands. Rose pointed out that the Bar Standards Board code expressly forbids a barrister from withdrawing from a case because of external pressure.

[…]

All this, of course, is taking place against the background of last year’s party conference jibes by the prime minister and home secretary about ‘lefty lawyers’ acting in asylum claims. The remarks prompted outrage in all branches of the profession, with the bar chair accusing the home secretary of seeking ‘to demonise the very people helping constituents every day, without agenda, simply because they provide a vital public service’.

In a grim reminder of the risks lawyers can face, a man was subsequently charged with an attempted knife attack on a prominent legal aid firm. The case is currently sub judice.  

[…]

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news-focus/news-focus-back-to-basics-on-protecting-lawyers/5107319.article

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/RoleOfLawyers.aspx

https://www.nichibenren.or.jp/en/events/210313.html

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UK: UK government ministers condemned for anti-lawyer rhetoric

04/02/21

UK government ministers face increasing condemnation for verbal attacks on the legal profession in the aftermath of an alleged terrorism incident at a London firm.

In early September 2020, a member of the public allegedly threatened to kill a lawyer at a law firm’s office in Harrow. He has been charged with preparing terrorist acts, among other charges that include actual bodily harm, making a threat to kill, and a racially-aggravated public order offence. At the charging hearing, prosecutors alleged the motivation was connected to ‘the firm’s involvement in preventing the government from deporting people’. The man charged has yet to enter a plea.

Days before the incident, Home Secretary Priti Patel had tweeted to complain that Home Office ‘removals continue to be frustrated by activist lawyers’, despite the Home Office being condemned for a video using the same language only days earlier. The Law Society of England and Wales had criticised the ‘dangerous and misleading’ video that claimed government attempts to remove ‘migrants with no right to remain in the UK’ were blocked by ‘activist lawyers’ delaying and disrupting returns by ‘abus[ing]’ return regulations.

The video was removed from circulation and replaced with one that does not reference ‘activist lawyers’, but the Home Secretary continues to use the phrase.

Philip Rodney, former Member of the IBA Senior Lawyers’ Committee Advisory Board, tells Global Insight that he finds it ‘breath-taking that a government channel should seek to disparage as “activists” lawyers who work within the limits of the law to uphold the rights of those whom they represent. The ability to scrutinise executive powers and protect the interests of our clients is an essential part of the rule of law’.

He suggests that government attacks on lawyers, though alarmingly common in autocratic countries around the world, are unprecedented in the United Kingdom: ‘I can’t recall in more than 40 years of practice seeing that sort of language being used by government in an attempt to discredit lawyers who are just doing their jobs’.

Although concerns were raised about the connection between ministers’ language and the incident in the aftermath of the alleged attack, ministers have continued to politicise the work of lawyers representing asylum seekers.

[…]

https://workpermit.com/news/uk-immigration-case-prosecutors-blasted-home-office-20210126

If the Tories cared about the rule of law, they’d overturn the dismantling of legal aid

https://www.activistlawyer.com/post/changing-the-world-one-case-at-a-time-young-activist-lawyers

https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/brexit-news/a-profile-of-priti-patel-6888838

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jan/27/government-lawyer-tells-court-m15-officers-could-authorise

Belarus: Joint letter on the arrest and detention of Leanid Sudalenka

05/02/21

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In a joint letter Lawyers for Lawyers and the Law Society for England and Wales express concern about the arrest and detention of Belarusian lawyer Leanid Sudalenka.

On 5 January 2021, the offices of Leanid Sudalenka, the Chairman of the Homiel branch of the Viasna Human Rights Centre and 2018 winner of the French Republic’s “Liberty- Equality-Fraternity Prize” for his human rights work, were searched by officers from the Department for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption of the Belarus Ministry of Internal Affairs. The search was conducted in connection with a criminal case against opposition activist Uladzimir Nepomniashchykh, in which Mr. Sudalenka was to appear as a witness. During the search over three hundred items were taken, including casefiles and Mr. Sudalenka’s laptop and bankcards. His work computer and more bank cards were taken during a subsequent search of Mr. Sudalenka’s apartment.

After the search, Mr. Sudalenka was taken to the Office for Combating Organized crime and reportedly interrogated primarily about the legal advice provided to those detained, fined and arrested during the post-electoral protests in Homiel.

On 18 January 2021, Mr. Sudalenka was again detained, this time by the Investigative Committee of Belarus as part of a criminal case brought under the Belarus Criminal Code  for “organising or preparing actions that grossly violate the public order or taking active part in such actions”. He was denied access to his lawyer for many hours. It was reported by the Viasna Human Rights Centre on 29 January 2021 that Mr. Sudalenka had been charged under the Belarus Criminal Code for “financing actions that grossly violate the public order”. Mr. Sudalenka remains in custody in a pre-trial detention center in Homiel.

Lawyers for Lawyers and the Law Society for England and Wales fear that the detention of and charges against Mr. Sudalenka could be aimed at curbing his legitimate activities as an attorney.

[…]

https://www.lawtrend.org/social-actions/demand-for-the-immediate-release-of-siarhei-drazdouski-and-aleh-hrableuski-human-rights-defenders-from-the-office-for-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities

https://spring96.org/en/news/101741