Tag Archives: Lawyers for Lawyers

PBI-Colombia accompanies CCAJAR lawyers collective at Inter-American Court of Human Rights hearing

16/05/22

On May 16, PBI-Colombia tweeted: “Last week PBI accompanied @Ccajar during the public hearing held in @CorteIDH [the Inter-American Court of Human Rights] in the case Members of the “José Alvear Restrepo” Lawyers Corporation v. Colombia. See more information about the audience here.”

[…]

The hearing took place on May 12-13 in San Jose, Costa Rica.

On May 11, PBI-Colombia also tweeted:

“@CorteIDH [the Inter-American Court of Human Rights] calls #Colombia to judge surveillance and illegal intelligence against human rights defenders @Ccajar whom we have accompanied since 1995. We express our deep admiration and solidarity for their tireless work in defense of human rights and search for justice so that #NoSeRepita [there is no repetition].”

[…]

Last month, CCAJAR explained:

“For the first time, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) will try a case involving illegal surveillance and intelligence on human rights defenders.

This is the case brought by the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (Cajar), which has denounced being a victim of persecution practices for more than 30 years, in which its members have been the focus of illegal intelligence activities by different State agencies, stigmatizing speeches, threats, attacks, exiles, smear campaigns, psychological torture and harassment.”

On the first day of the hearing, CCAJAR tweeted:

“In the worst years of persecution we felt that the organization was going to end. Half of the lawyers of @Ccajar had to go into exile. We always appeared on lists of threats from paramilitary groups.”

[…]

https://www.escr-net.org/member/corporacion-colectivo-abogados-jose-alvear-restrepo-ccajar

https://www.omct.org/en/network-members/corporaci%C3%B3n-colectivo-de-abogados-jos%C3%A9-alvear-restrepo-cajar

https://www.dw.com/es/las-fuerzas-de-seguridad-de-colombia-atrapadas-en-la-guerra-fr%C3%ADa/a-61794328 (ESPANOL)

https://zonacero.com/generales/corteidh-escucho-colectivo-de-abogados-jose-alvear-por-caso-de-persecucion-en-colombia

https://www.abogacia.es/actualidad/noticias/la-fundacion-abogacia-muestra-su-apoyo-a-un-colectivo-de-abogados-de-colombia-objeto-de-escuchas-ilegales/

https://www.eltiempo.com/justicia/cortes/corte-idh-juzgara-a-colombia-por-persecucion-ilegal-al-colectivo-cajar-671408

https://www.corteidh.or.cr/index.cfm?lang=pt

https://www.colectivodeabogados.org/

(FRANCAIS)

UN Working Group Concludes Turkmenistan Violated Human Rights Laws In Arresting Lawyer

16/05/22

A UN working group has concluded that Turkmenistan violated international human rights laws when it detained a lawyer who was organizing a pro-democracy rally.

Police in the tightly controlled Central Asian nation arrested Pygamberdy Allaberdyev, a lawyer at a state oil company, in September 2020 for “hooliganism” after a man attacked him near a grocery store in the western city of Balkanabat.

Officers for Turkmenistan’s National Security Ministry immediately took over the case and charged Allaberdyev with having ties with the activists abroad.

He was sentenced later that month to six years in prison after a closed-door, two-hour trial during which he had no legal representation.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention last week determined that Allaberdyev was arrested for exercising his freedom of expression and association, according to the human rights group Freedom Now, which is helping Allaberdyev.

“We welcome the Working Group’s recognition that Pygamberdy Allaberdyev is wrongfully detained,” Freedom Now Legal Officer Adam Lhedmat said in a May 13 statemnt.

“Allaberdyev’s imprisonment is indicative of Turkmenistan’s intolerance of dissent and its strategy of using fabricated charges to silence its citizens. We call on the Turkmen government to comply with the United Nations’ decision and immediately and unconditionally release Allaberdyev.”

[…]

https://www.rferl.org/a/allaberdyev-turkmenistan-arrest-arbitrary-detention/31852330.html

https://tmhelsinki.org/en/article/2f85c67e-115d-4a56-91d6-617160cdd1da

https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/10/22/turkmenistan-drop-charges-free-wrongfully-imprisoned-lawyer

Tunisia: Letter on the arrest, detention and prosecution of Abderrazak Kilani

10/05/22

In a joint letter Lawyers for Lawyers, the Law Society of England and Wales, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada express grave concern  about the arrest, detention and prosecution before a military tribunal of Abderrazak Kilani, a lawyer and former President of The Law Society of Tunisia from 2010 until 2012, as well as a former ambassador of Tunisia to the UN in Geneva.

On 2 January 2022, Mr. Kilani was contacted by the spouse of Mr. Noureddine Bhiri, asking for legal representation by Mr. Kilani for her husband. Mr. Bhiri is a lawyer, former Minister of Justice, and opposition politician. She told Mr. Kilani that her husband had been abducted by plainclothes police officers in front of their house on 31 December 2021. He had been held at an undisclosed location for two days and was subsequently admitted to Habib Bougatfa hospital in Bizerte with a deteriorated health condition. We were informed that, only at that stage, was he issued with an order for “house arrest”, without having been charged with any offence.

Mr. Bhiri’s spouse asked Mr. Kilani to accompany her to the hospital. Mr. Kilani asked police officers guarding Mr. Bhiri to meet with his client. That request was conveyed by the police to the Minister of the Interior, who denied it. Only Mr. Bhiri’s wife and the President of the Bar Council were permitted to meet with Mr. Bhiri. Mr. Kilani then told the security officers at the hospital that the Tunisian Constitution establishes that security forces should be neutral and serve the republic rather than any particular interest.

On 3 January 2022, the Minister of the Interior held a press conference where he said that “a respectable person had [incited the police and the public]” referring to a recording of Mr. Kilani’s encounter with the police at the hospital that was shared on social media. Mr. Kilani was subsequently investigated on charges of incitement to disobedience, as well as “belonging to a group likely to disturb public order”, “insulting public officials”, and “inciting [police officials] by violence, assault, threats, or fraudulent practices to cease performing their individual or collective duties”.

On 2 March 2022, a hearing took place before the military tribunal of Tunis during which Mr. Kilani’s pre-trial detention was ordered. He was sent to Mornaguia prison in Tunis where he remained in detention for approximately three weeks. On 21 March 2022, the investigating judge of the military tribunal of Tunis issued an order for his release and established the date of the next hearing before the military tribunal, which will take place on 12 May 2022. During this hearing, the merits of the charges against Mr. Kilani will be addressed.

[…]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abderrazak_Kilani

(FRANCAIS)

https://www.amnesty.be/veux-agir/agir-individus/reseau-actions-urgentes/article/avocat-poursuivi-tribunal-militaire

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abderrazak_Kilani

Polish court sees no grounds to arrest prominent lawyer

29/04/22

A prominent Polish lawyer who has represented leading political opposition figures and was treated as a suspect in a politically sensitive case was cleared by a court on Friday.

In 2020, Giertych was detained by Polish authorities and his home was searched in a manner which a Polish court later considered to be unlawful and unjustified.

Prosecutors ordered his arrest, accusing him of laundering enormous sums of money from a publicly traded company, Polnord.

Giertych vehemently denies the claims, and accuses Poland’s ruling authorities of trying to ruin him politically.

The District Court in Lublin announced Friday that it was dismissing the prosecutor’s request for his arrest, upholding the decision of a lower court. The decision is final.

The court argued there were no grounds for his arrest, and said the prosecutor had failed to show evidence backing up its claims that Giertych was guilty of the alleged crimes.

Giertych welcomed the decision, saying he viewed it as an example of rule of law and independent judges “resisting populist assaults.”

According to reports in Polish media, prosecutors plan to keep investigating Giertych and view the judge who ruled in his case as biased against the country’s conservative ruling party, Law and Justice.

From 2006-2007, Giertych was a deputy prime minister and education minister in a conservative government led by Law and Justice. At the time he was the leader of a far-right party, the League of Polish Families, but has since allied himself politically with Tusk and other centrist politicians.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/polish-court-sees-grounds-arrest-prominent-lawyer-84401946

https://newsbeezer.com/polandeng/roman-giertych-is-not-arrested-sd-there-is-no-foundation/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Giertych

https://wydarzenia.interia.pl/kraj/news-roman-giertych-triumfuje-teraz-czas-na-sledztwo-w-sprawie-pr,nId,5992883 (POLSKA)

https://latribune.avocats.be/fr/roman-giertych (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Giertych

Lawyers Day in Syria: Khalil Ma’touq and Razan Zaitouneh remain missing

22/04/22

Today is Lawyers Day in Syria, a day that is celebrated by lawyers from Syria. On this day, we would like to highlight the cases of disappeared lawyers Khalil Ma’touq and Razan Zaitouneh from Syria.

Khalil Ma’touq

Khalil Ma’touq, director of the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research, is a human rights lawyer who has been defending peaceful activists for more than 20 years. He and his colleague and assistant Mohammed Zaza have been missing since October 2, 2012, when they were en route from Ma’touq’s home in Sahanaya, a Damascus suburb, to his office in Damascus. It is believed that they were arrested at a government security checkpoint. The exact reasons for the arrest are unknown, but there is reason to believe their arrest is connected to their legitimate and peaceful work in human rights.

Despite repeated requests by their families and lawyers for information about their fate, their whereabouts are still unknown. The Syrian authorities have denied that they arrested the men. However, individuals released from the government’s custody in 2015 have informed Ma’touq’s family that while in detention they spotted him in various government-operated detention facilities.

Razan Zaitouneh

As a prominent human rights lawyer, activist, and journalist, Razan Zaitouneh has dedicated her life to defending political prisoners, documenting crimes against humanity, and helping others free themselves from oppression. Since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, Razan Zaitouneh has played a key role in efforts to defend human rights for all and protect independent groups and activists in Syria. She is co-founder of the Local Coordination Committees in Syria and the Violations Documentation Center, which documents human rights violations in Syria.

Together with her husband and two colleagues, Razan Zaitouneh disappeared on 9 December 2013 in Douma, after a group of armed men stormed the office of the Violations Documentation Center. Since then, no one has heard from them.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/syria-opposition-spokesperson-can-face-war-crimes-french-court-says

https://scm.bz/en/scm-statements/intwomen22

https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/syria-landmark-ruling-offers-hope-regime-s-victims

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razan_Zaitouneh

https://information.tv5monde.com/info/syrie-razan-zaitouneh-toujours-disparue-4774 (FRANCAIS)

From one day to the next everything is at stake. Lawyer Iurii Grygorenko tells what is happening in Ukraine

19/04/22

“Excuse me, I’m still a little sleepy. Lots of air raid sirens last night.” Iurii Grygorenko, lawyer and member of the Ukrainian National Bar Association’s Committee for Lawyers Rights, shows up at 9 a.m. on 18 March 2022 for an online interview with the Advocatenblad. Twenty-three days ago, Russia invaded Ukraine, which left Grygorenko “perplexed and confused.” It’s not that people didn’t know about the troop buildup. “We just couldn’t imagine that a state that calls us ‘brother people’ would come and kill us.” But the unimaginable happened, and nothing is the same anymore.

Odessa

Grygorenko had a lawyer’s practice in the capital Kiev, which mainly focused on corporate criminal law. That work has come to a complete standstill, as Kiev is nearly encircled and being bombarded. Grygorenko left for his hometown of Odessa, the southern Black Sea port city where his parents live.

Ukrainian Dean

For the time being, and despite the frequently blaring sirens, Odessa seems safer than Kiev, or Kharkiv, the city where the Ukrainian National Bar Association’s President Lydia Izovitova comes from and partly lives. At the end of last year she gave an interview to the Advocatenblad in which she talked about the challenges of an independent legal profession in Ukraine, rather than the Russian threat. How is she doing now? Grygorenko: ‘She’s been deeply affected by the terrible bombing of her city, but as a leader she cannot show that. She occupies herself by managing the financial support of lawyers.”

[…]

Grygorenko has hope for a good outcome. “Honestly, we didn’t think the Ukrainian military would hold up so well. And the population too. We hear the Russian army doesn’t have enough people and equipment, that they aren’t motivated. If the West gives us the tools, we’ll do the work. We will not only protect ourselves, but also the other countries in Eastern Europe. Putin’s ultimate goal is to revive the Warsaw Pact. Including countries like Poland, the Baltic States, Hungary, even the GDR. We want to be Europeans, we respect human rights. Now that Russia is out of the Council of Europe, they’ll reintroduce the death penalty. Please help us protect ourselves and Europe from this aggression.”

Donations to the Ukrainian National Bar Association can be made through:

https://www.advocatenblad.nl/2022/03/21/doneren-aan-orde-van-advocaten-oekraine/

Contributions will only be used for financial support of lawyers.

This interview was originally published in Dutch in the Advocatenblad and written by Trudeke Sillevis Smitt. Lawyers for Lawyers received permission to post the English version of the interview on our website.

https://www.ship2shore.it/en/shipping/russian-maritime-lawyers-reiterate-their-opposition-to-the-russia-ukraine-war_80687.htm

Russian lawyers prevented from carrying out their professional duties

15/04/22

Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned about threats to the independence of the legal profession and access to justice in the Russian Federation.

Since 24 February 2022 mass protests against the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine have been taking place in many Russian cities. It has been reported that thousands of people have been arrested in anti-war protests across Russia. According to reports, people have been detained, including with the use of physical violence, for the participation in protests, for anti-war symbols or Ukrainian symbols on clothing, for solitary pickets with posters saying messages such as “Peace to the World” and “No War”, and even with a blank sheet with no text or symbols at all.

On 4 March 2022, new repressive laws came into force in the Russian Federation that provide for criminal and administrative liability for the dissemination of so-called ‘fake news’” about the actions of the Russian military and for publicly discrediting their actions. The spread of “fake” information can lead to liability: starting from a fine of up to 1.5 million rubles, and ending with the imprisonment for up to 15 years.

Since 24 February 2022, human rights activistsnews outlets, and the lawyers themselves publish information about lawyers being denied access to those detained at the protests in Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Krasnodar, Saratov and other Russian cities. In St. Petersburg in February and March, reportedly there were also cases of lawyers not being allowed to visit their clients in the court building.

This is not the first time that Lawyers for Lawyers raises alarm about the safety of lawyers representing peaceful protesters. Already in March 2021, there were a number of instances of lawyers being physically attacked or having trouble accessing clients who had been arrested during peaceful protests against the arrest of opposition leader Aleksej Navalny.

[…]

https://www.euronews.com/2022/04/14/lyubov-sobol-ally-of-kremic-critic-alexei-navalny-given-six-month-prison-sentence

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2022/04/navalny-documentary-review

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2022/apr/10/navalny-review-alexei-extraordinary-documentary-assassination-attempt-poisoning

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyubov_Sobol

Ongoing concerns on the situation in Hong Kong and the independence of the Bar Association

14/04/22

Lawyers for Lawyers has previously raised concerns on the position of lawyers in Hong Kong after the National Security Law (NSL) has entered into force on 1 July 2020. The NSL has been in place for almost two years now. Lawyers for Lawyers has growing concerns about the situation of lawyers in Hong Kong and the independence of the Bar Association in Hong Kong in connection to the NSL.

The NSL criminalizes acts that China deems challenging to its authority. This includes acts of secession and collusion with foreign forces. We were informed that the charges under the NSL are loosely defined and open to interpretation. The NSL creates offenses that fall under the laws of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), rather than under the laws of Hong Kong.

Recently, UK judges withdrew from the Hong Kong Court of final appeal, concerned that their continued participation in the Hong Kong judiciary would appear as an endorsement of the current “department from values of political freedom and freedom of expression”. Judges of the UK Supreme Court had sat on the Hong Kong final court of appeal since 1997, when Hong Kong was returned to China.

According to some Hong Kong lawyers, the NSL has infringed upon Hong Kong’s autonomy and the NSL exposes Hong Kong lawyers to a possible crackdown on human rights defenders, similar to those taking place in China since 2015. The last two years, the NSL has indeed had a chilling effect on lawyers in Hong Kong in the last years. Many lawyers involved in human rights cases have discontinued their work or even left Hong Kong out of fear of repercussions.

[…]

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-03-02/hong-kong-ex-bar-chair-flees-city-after-police-probe-media-says

https://www.finews.asia/people/36634-u-k-judges-resign-from-hong-kong-s-top-court

https://www.reuters.com/world/china/hong-kong-leader-rejects-barrister-nominee-sensitive-judges-panel-appoints-2022-03-25/

Webinar Lawyers Assist Ukraine, 20 April 9:30am CET

https://redon.maville.com/actu/actudet_-saint-malo.-les-gens-de-justice-expriment-leur-solidarite-envers-le-peuple-ukrainien-_dep-5176474_actu.Htm (FRANCAIS)

Egypt: Letter on the arrest and detention of Youssef Mansour

12/04/22

In a letter Lawyers for Lawyers expresses serious concern over the arbitrary arrest, subsequent disappearance and ongoing detention of Egyptian human rights lawyer Youssef Mansour.

According to the information we received, on 24 March 2022, Mr Mansour was arrested at his domicile by a group of officers from the National Security Forces, who reportedly failed to present an arrest warrant. The mobile phone and laptop of Mr Mansour were seized by the officers. We understand that, prior to his arrest, Mr Mansour wrote a post on social media denouncing the detention conditions in the Tora Maximum Security Prison.

Mr Mansour was disappeared in an undisclosed location for two days and was not presented before any investigative body until 26 March 2022, where he appeared before the Supreme State Security Persecution (SSSP) in Cairo. The SSSP ordered the pre-trial detention of Mr Mansour for a period of fifteen days in Albssaten Police station. Mr Mansour is detained in relation to case no. 330/2022 and accused of ‘joining an illegal group’, ‘inciting the commission of terrorist crimes’ and ‘publishing false news inside and outside Egypt’.

We call upon the Egyptian authorities to release Youssef Mansour and drop all charges against him unless credible evidence is presented in proceedings that respect fair trial guarantees, and put an end to all acts of harassment against Youssef Mansour, including at the judicial level.

[…]

https://practicesource.com/egypt-arbitrary-arrest-and-detention-of-rights-lawyer-youssef-mansour/

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/news/three-egyptian-activists-end-hunger-strike-tora-prison

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/egypt-sexual-violence-detainees-human-rights-report