Tag Archives: Law Society of Ontario

Canada: LSO should speak out on behalf of Hong Kong lawyers: Bencher Chi-Kun Shi


LSO should speak out on behalf of Hong Kong lawyers: Bencher Chi-Kun Shi

The profession should be inspired by the heroism of these lawyers and honour them, Shi says

With the Law Society of Ontario’s commitment to monitor human rights violations that targeting members of the legal profession, bencher and trial lawyer Chi-Kun Shi wants the LSO to act on behalf of Hong Kong lawyers who uphold and defend the rule of law but face human rights violations in China.

 The LSO often writes letters to foreign governments opining on the rule of law and human rights, and Shi says that intervening for Hong Kong lawyers and paralegals in China honours their courage and sends a signal that they are supported and remembered.

 The LSO wrote a letter to President Xi Jinping and Chief Executive Carrie Lam in May 2021 condemning the human rights violations of legal professionals and unjust sentencing of lawyers Dr. Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, Martin Lee Chu-ming and Albert Ho Chun-yan for participating in “unauthorized protests” in April 2020.

The letter urged the president to comply with China’s international human rights laws, including the United Nation’s universal declaration of human rights.

 “The recent convictions and unjust sentencing of lawyers and pro-democracy advocates lawyers Dr. Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, Martin Lee Chu-ming and Albert Ho Chun-yan underscore the continuing assault on freedom of expression and right to assembly in Hong Kong. Arresting and charging lawyers and other human rights defenders who have engaged in peaceful assembly and advocacy creates a dangerous standard for all those who work to promote and defend human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong.”

 The LSO asked for the immediate and unconditional release of Ngoi-yee, Chu-ming and Chun-yan, the dismissal of their convictions and assurance that all lawyers, paralegals and human rights defenders can carry out their professional duties without fear of reprisals and physical violence.

Shi says she hopes the LSO will act within its power, “walk the talk,” and grant honorary LSO membership to Ngoi-yee, Chu-ming and Chun-yan. She intended to bring forward the motion for honorary membership on October 1 convocation but says she withdrew the motion to rework it. 

“Instead of singling out three people who has illuminated the legal profession, I would like to include all the unsung heroes, lawyers and paralegals in Hong Kong who have stepped up in face of tyranny to defend our shared value of rule of law,” she says.

For example, “the young lawyers who jumped into taxis to follow paddy wagons to police station to represent the demonstrators arrested. They would want to be remembered.”




Iran/The Philippines/China/Nigeria: LSO expresses concern over global human rights violations

July 16, 2019

Organization has issued statements condemning violations of legal professionals’ human rights

LSO expresses concern over global human rights violations

The Law Society of Ontario has expressed “grave concerns” regarding human rights violations against members of the legal profession across the globe.

“Lawyers should be able to exercise their legitimate duties without fear for their lives, for their liberty or for their security. The Law Society of Ontario urges all governments to comply with international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers,” the society said in a statement.

The law society’s Human Rights Monitoring Group have issued public statements regarding the following lawyers:

  • Jiang Tianyong in China, who is being subjected to surveillance and restrictions on freedom of movement after his release from prison for “incitement to subvert state power.”
  • Nasrin Sotoudeh in Iran, who was convicted on seven charges, and sentenced to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes. According to credible reports, the charges stem solely from her human rights work and for having spoken out against the death penalty in Iran.





https://lso.ca/nouvelles-et-evenements/nouvelles/2019/le-barreau-est-tres-preoccupe-par-les-violations-des-droits-de-la-personne-a-l%E2%80%99encontre-de-membres-d (FRANCAIS)




Colombia/UK: International lawyers observe “12 Apostles” trial of Santiago Uribe Vélez

April 11, 2019

Representatives from the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and the Colombian Caravana (UK) have returned to Medellin to continue observing the trial of Santiago Uribe Vélez, the brother of former President and current Senator, Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Santiago Uribe is accused of heading a paramilitary group in North Antioquia during the early 1990s that became known as the “12 Apostles”.  He also is charged with the murder of bus driver, Camilo Barrientos Durán, in 1994.  During its existence, the 12 Apostles sought to carry out what many have referred to as ‘social cleansing’ – eliminating those considered ‘undesirable’ to the group such as sex workers and drug addicts. In addition, the group targeted members and supporters of guerrilla groups. The group is considered to be responsible for over 500 murders and disappearances during this period.

International observation missions were organised following evidence of threats and intimidation to lawyers and witnesses in the case. Daniel Prado, lawyer to the victims of the case, has been granted precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Medida cautelar N° 261-16 of 20 November 2017), which stated that “the rights to life and personal integrity of Mr. Daniel Ernesto Prado Albarracín are at grave risk.” We understand that, although the National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección) provided him with a car as a security measure, it does not have reinforced windows which means that it does not provide adequate protection.

The mission has been informed about serious attempts having been made to undermine the work of the prosecution. It is reported that in November 2017 a plan was uncovered to murder Olwan de Jésus Agudelo Betancurt, one of the witnesses in the case.








https://www.fidh.org/es/temas/defensores-de-derechos-humanos/colombia-campana-de-ataques-intimidacion-y-amenazas-en-contra-del-sr (ESPANOL)

https://www.la-croix.com/Monde/Ameriques/Daniel-Prado-justice-paix-2018-12-05-1200987560 (FRANCAIS)

https://www.newswire.ca/fr/news-releases/le-barreau-tres-preoccupe-par-les-violations-des-droits-de-la-personne-a-l-encontre-de-membres-de-la-profession-juridique-845161362.html (FRANCAIS)

The Philippines: #Light4Ramos Lawyer Benjamin Ramos stood up for human rights – it cost him his life

December 10, 2018

He died too soon. Gunned down by two men on a motorcycle. Benjamin Ramos from the Philippines was a human rights lawyer fighting for causes related to democracy, human rights and the environment.

What happened to him is far from an isolated event – environmental defenders and people standing up for human rights are still threatened, harassed, beaten and murdered all over the world. On December 10, exactly seventy years after the adoption of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, we commemorate all those defending human rights and the environment who were murdered this past year. This is done under the slogan of #Light4Ramos

Benjamin Ramos was working late on November 6 earlier this year. As he left for the day just after 10 p.m., a motorcycle with two masked men drove up beside him. Four rounds were fired and Ramos fell to the ground. Saving his life was not possible. Ramos, a father of three, is mourned by his family, friends and colleagues, who gathered for a funeral ceremony soon after his death. At the ceremony, unknown men on motorcycles once again appeared. They kept themselves at a distance but sent a clear message to Ramos’ loved ones by openly displaying their automatic weapons. The police were called to the scene and the two men, who were later found to belong to the national military, were apprehended. They were released on bail the very next day. Benjamin Ramos lived to be 56 years old.

Stood up for the rights of vulnerable groups

Ramos was engaged in defending the rights of vulnerable groups – farmers and environmental defenders. He was well-known in the Philippines and stood up against corrupt decision-makers and the exploitation of natural resources by large corporations. Ramos was involved in the Philippine farmer association Masipag, which has been a collaboration partner of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation for two decades. The situation in the Philippines is alarming and at least 34 lawyers have been killed in this island nation since Rodrigo Duterte became president two and a half years ago. There is widespread impunity and Duterte has personally singled out “obstructive” lawyers as legitimate targets for the police and the military.





Image result for attorney Benjamin Ramos

The Philippines: Public Statement: Philippines (December 2018)

The Law Society of Ontario expresses grave concern about the murder of lawyer Benjamin Ramos and 33 other lawyers in the Philippines

The Law Society of Ontario expresses grave concern about the murder of lawyer Benjamin Ramos and 33 other lawyers in the Philippines.

According to reports, 34 lawyers have been killed in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte began his presidency in June 2016. Reports indicate that Benjamin Ramos was the 34th lawyer killed during his presidency, and reports further identify the following six lawyers who were recently shot and killed as a result of exercising their professional duties: Mia Manuelita Mascarinas-Green on February 16, 2017 (for whom the Law Society has previously intervened in a letter attached, for your ease of reference); Jonah John Ungab on February 19, 2018; Joey Galit on June 21, 2018; Rafael Atotubo on August 23, 2018; Connie Del Rio Villamor on September 24 2018; and Edeljulio Romero on September 28, 2018.

During a speech at the 19th Founding Anniversary of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption in Manilla on August 16, 2017, President Duterte instructed the national police to not be intimidated by human rights lawyers who were conducting investigations in the thousands of deaths of individuals that you referred to as “drug addicts and dealers”. According to reports, the President also instructed police to shoot lawyers if they are obstructing justice. Lawyers are being harassed, threatened and killed at alarming rates, and we implore President Duterte to publicly denounce these activities and to take immediate steps to ensure that lawyers can safely perform their legitimate professional duties.

As mentioned earlier, Benjamin Ramos was the lawyer most recently killed in the Philippines. Benjamin Ramos was a human rights lawyer and founding member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NULP). The NULP specializes in pro-bono work for low-income clients whose families have been targeted by the state.

On November 6, 2018, Benjamin Ramos was reportedly shot and killed in Negros Occidental by two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle. The shooting took place as he left his office in the evening.  Benjamin Ramos was shot three times and declared dead on arrival at the hospital.




https://lso.ca/about-lso/initiatives/human-rights-monitoring-group/public-statement-philippines-december-2018?lang=fr-ca (FRANCAIS)


Russia: Defence lawyer Mikhail Benyash indicted

December 12, 2018

Mikhail Benyash

On 12 December 2018, the senior investigator of the Investigation Department of the Western District of Krasnodar city indicted defence lawyer Mikhail Benyash after reviewing his case file. Mikhail Benyash is charged with the “use of violence, not dangerous to health, in relation to the representative of the authority”. According to article 318 part 1 of the Russian Criminal Code, the human rights defender is facing up to five years in prison.

On 6 December 2018, the senior investigator decided to terminate the criminal case against Mikhail Benyash based on charges of the “obstruction of justice”. However, he decided to continue the criminal investigation into the case of violence against the representatives of the authority, in relation to the crime that the human rights defender allegedly committed on 9 September 2018 during his arrest for a post about a planned protest against the pension reform.

Mikhail Benyash is a defence lawyer who has been working on civil and criminal cases for the last ten years in Sochi and Krasnodar Region, Russia. In the context of authorities’ reluctance to sanction peaceful protests, the human rights defender has been providing legal assistance to participants of rallies which were not officially approved. He also attended a number of protests in order to monitor and prevent police brutality.





https://lso.ca/about-lso/initiatives/human-rights-monitoring-group/public-statement-russia-december-2018?lang=fr-ca (FRANCAIS)

https://www.ukrinform.es/rubric-society/2595293-abogado-de-presos-politicos-de-crimea-detenido-por-extremismo-periodista.html (ESPANOL)

Egypt/Day of the Endangered Lawyer/Canada: Law Society Marks the Day of the Endangered Lawyer

January 24, 2018

January 24 is the Day of the Endangered Lawyer. Now in its 8th year, the Day calls attention to the personal and professional safety of lawyers and other human rights defenders around the world, who are harassed, silenced, pressured, threatened, persecuted, tortured or even killed in retaliation for their work to protect the rights of others.

Each year, the Day focuses on the plight of lawyers and human rights defenders in a single country. This year’s country of focus is Egypt.

According to a report of the Foundation for the Day of the Endangered Lawyer , Egyptian lawyers, human rights activists, journalists and political activists face ongoing intimidation, harassment, travel restrictions, arbitrary detentions and physical harm from authorities working to silence critical voices. To learn more about the plight of lawyers in Egypt, please visit the following link: http://dayoftheendangeredlawyer.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Basic-report-Egypt-dec.-2017.pdf

The Law Society joins with the human rights community, legal organizations and individuals around the world to denounce the treatment of lawyers and other human rights defenders in Egypt, and to call on authorities to respect their rights to practice law or promote human rights without fear of harassment, intimidation or physical harm.

The Law Society is committed to maintaining and advancing access to justice and the rule of law.

Through its Human Rights Monitoring Group, the Law Society has intervened many times in the cases of lawyers in Egypt.


Law Society of Ontario: Law Society expresses grave concerns regarding human rights violations against members of legal prof(1)

December 21, 2017

The Law Society of Ontario

The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concerns regarding human rights violations against members of the legal profession across the globe.

Lawyers should be able to exercise their legitimate duties without fear for their lives, for their liberty or for their security. The Law Society of Upper Canada urges all governments to comply with international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

The Law Society’s Human Rights Monitoring Group recently issued public statements regarding the following lawyers:

The Human Rights Monitoring Group is a group of benchers of the Law Society of Upper Canada appointed by the Law Society’s governing body to monitor human rights violations that target members of the legal profession and the judiciary as a result of the discharge of their legitimate professional duties.

The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a duty to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario and act in a timely, open and efficient manner. 



http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147504363&langtype=1036 (FRANCAIS)