Tag Archives: Lawyers for Lawyers

The Tajik Government’s Style Of Justice And Mercy

23/10/21

Buzurgmehr Yorov (file photo)

International rights watchdogs have long charged that the judiciary system in Tajikistan is often used to punish perceived enemies of the government.

There are, indeed, many cases in recent years to support those claims. And even when moved to gestures of mercy, the Tajik courts and state officials seem callous in their actions.

The following are some of the most egregious recent cases.

The Lawyer

Buzurgmehr Yorov is a Tajik attorney who was detained in late September 2015 and shortly thereafter sentenced to 28 years in prison.

In honor of Tajikistan marking 30 years of independence this year, an amnesty has been granted to some prisoners. Yorov had four years removed from his long sentence.

The 50-year-old attorney had a reputation for defending people who had little, if any, chance of proving their innocence in Tajik courts.

He defended members of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), a group that had been in a power-sharing agreement with President Emomali Rahmon’s government and was later seen by Rahmon as an impediment to his exerting greater control over the country.

Yorov also defended fellow lawyer Fakhriddin Zokirov, who was the attorney of businessman Zayd Saidov.

Saidov founded a new political party — Tajikistan Now — in April 2013 and was convicted in December that same year on charges of fraud, polygamy, and statutory rape, charges seen as politically motivated.

Zokirov was arrested in March 2014 on forgery charges and was held for eight months before he received an amnesty.

Saidov’s second lawyer, Shuhrat Kudratov, was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of fraud and bribery. His term was shortened after two rounds of amnesties.

[…]

https://www.rferl.org/a/tajikistan-justice-system-prisoners-qishloq/31525766.html

https://www.rferl.org/a/tajikistan-yorov-sentence-shortened/31516708.html

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

https://www.avocatparis.org/actualites/tadjikistan-lavocat-defenseur-des-droits-de-lhomme-buzurgmehr-yorov-emprisonne (FRANCAIS)

Chinese lawyers banned from discussing cases in public in latest move to tighten control over legal sector

23/10/21

The Chinese legal sector has faced ever-tighter controls. Photo: Shutterstock
  • New guidelines from the official professional association say some lawyers have been ‘hyping up cases’ and trying to influence public opinion
  • Practising and former lawyers warn that the measures will prevent them from representing their clients properly and curb their freedom of speech

China’s official lawyers’ association has introduced new guidelines that ban lawyers from “hyping up cases” online or in the media in the latest move to tighten control over the legal profession.

The ethical guidelines issued by the All-China Lawyers Association this week came into force with immediate effect, initially on a provisional basis.

The Communist Party has been extending its reach into the legal system with tighter regulations and a string of disbarments since 2015’s “709 crackdown”, which saw about 300 rights lawyers, legal assistants and activists rounded up around the country.

A briefing issued by the association said a “small number of lawyers” had “commented inappropriately and disclosed details to hype up their cases”, adding that the guidelines were designed to strengthen professional ethics and enforce discipline by stopping lawyers from releasing details of their cases through the internet, the media or clients’ families.

“Some publicise their cases on the internet to enable ‘trial by public opinion’ while some breach clients’ privacy, insult and defame case handlers, vilify their opponents and mislead public opinion in an attempt to influence the case proceedings,” it continued.

Lawyers are also not allowed to organise petitions and press conferences, publish open letters or engage in public advocacy works with the purpose of fanning public opinion to influence court decisions.

The guidelines say they cannot release documents, video or photographs without court approval.

They will also apply to cases in the post-trial stage, including appeals and retrials.

[…]

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3153392/chinese-lawyers-banned-discussing-cases-public-latest-move

May be an image of text that says ""Just like everyone else, lawyers are entitled to freedom of opinion, expression, association and peaceful assembly." Diego García García-Sayán UN expert on the ndependence of judges and magistrates UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS மροα Offico /UNHumanRightsAsia /ohchrasia www.bangkok.ohchr.org /onchrasiapacific"

Chinese Rights Lawyer Stands Trial After Four Years’ Pretrial Detention

20/10/21

Chinese Rights Lawyer Stands Trial After Four Years' Pretrial Detention

The charges against Li Yuhan are a form of political retaliation for her rights work, a fellow lawyer says.

After four years in detention, human rights lawyer Li Yuhan stood trial in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning on Wednesday for “fraud,” and “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” a charge often used to target peaceful critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Li, 60, who had previously defended high-profile rights attorney Wang Yu amid a nationwide crackdown on rights lawyers, stood trial at the Heping District People’s Court in Shenyang, where an ambulance was parked, amid concerns over Li’s poor health.

Wang, who showed up to support Li with fellow rights lawyer Xie Yang, said police had denied access to diplomats from six countries, who asked to observe the proceedings.

“There were diplomats from six countries including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States, the Netherlands, and Switzerland,” Wang told RFA from the scene. “Some were diplomats from consulates in Shenyang, and some were diplomats from Beijing.”

“They asked to observe, but the court said there were no available seats, so there weren’t allowed in.”

She added: “They are very concerned about this case. I also think that … the abuse of lawyer Li Yuhan has been inhumane.”

Wang said guards had thrown a security cordon some 50 meters from the front gates, and didn’t allow her or Xie Yang to pass.

“We saw a lot of lawyers and litigants from other cases trying to get through to submit materials or meet with a judge, but they weren’t allowed in either,” she said. “Court business was totally suspended.”

“We took a few photos from outside the security cordon, then we got driven away by the security guards, state security police and court police,” she said.

Retaliation

Earlier this year, the European Bar Association wrote to CCP general secretary Xi Jinping, expressing concerns over Li Yuhan’s poor health and situation in detention.

Wang said the charges against Li are retaliatory.

[…]

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/lawyer-trial-10202021132238.html

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/li-yuhan

https://www.wionews.com/world/eu-urges-china-to-free-li-yuhan-and-other-human-rights-activists-351435

The Philippines: Letter on the killings of Atty. Juan Macababad, Atty. Rex Fernandez and Atty. Sitti Gilda Mahinay-Sapie

20/10/21

Letter on the killings of Atty. Juan Macababad, Atty. Rex Fernandez and Atty. Sitti Gilda Mahinay-Sapie

In a letter to President Duterte, Lawyers for Lawyers expressed concern about the recent killings of Atty. Juan Macababad, Atty. Rex Fernandez and Atty. Sitti Gilda Mahinay-Sapie and the further deteriorating situation of lawyers in the Philippines. Lawyers for Lawyers called on the authorities  of the Philippines to respect their human rights obligations under international law.

On September 15, 2021, Atty. Juan Macababad, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen in front of his home. According to our information, he had been receiving death threats prior to the attack. Atty. Macababad is the second lawyer killed in the last months, and the third lawyer killed in Cebu in less than a year. On August 26, Atty. Rex Fernandez was shot dead in an ambush while aboard his car in Cebu City on his way home and on July 14, 2021, Atty. Sitti Gilda Mahinay-Sapie and her husband were gunned down by an unidentified suspect outside their home.

Lawyers for Lawyers has been closely monitoring the situation of lawyers in the Philippines for many years and is deeply concerned about the oppressive working environment for lawyers in the country. In the letter, Lawyers for Lawyers urges the President of the Republic to adequately protect the safety and independence of lawyers.

Since the start of the administration, an unprecedented number of lawyers have been killed; very often after being threatened, harassed, and publicly labelled as ‘communist’, ‘terrorist’, or ‘enemies of the State’ by state agents and officials. This labelling takes place regardless of actual political beliefs or affiliations of the targeted individuals and is aimed at making lawyers legitimate targets.

The cases of Attys. Macababbad, Fernandez, and Mahinay-Sapie  are not isolated. At least 65 lawyers, prosecutors and (retired) judges, including 38 practicing lawyers, have been killed in the Philippines since the administration of Duterte took office on June 30, 2016.

[…]

Urgent appeal: Rights organizations call on Lebanese authorities to cease the intimidation of human rights lawyer Mohammed Sablouh

12/10/21

Human rights organizations are gravely concerned by the Lebanese authorities’ recent attempts to silence and discredit Mohammed Sablouh, a human rights lawyer defending victims of torture and Syrian refugees facing deportation. The actions of the Lebanese authorities represent an unacceptable infringement on the work of lawyers and other human rights defenders, in light of Lebanon’s ongoing failure to meet its legal obligations to prevent and punish the use of torture and to abide by the principle of non-refoulement.

Mohammed Sablouh is a Lebanese lawyer and the director of the Prisoners’ Rights Center at the Tripoli Bar Association. For nearly 15 years, he has been documenting cases of torture and other ill-treatment in Lebanese detention facilities and advocating on behalf of victims both at the domestic and international levels. Recently, Sablouh’s work exposing the torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners in the Military Police prison in Beirut, at the Fakhr El-Din barrack (Ramla al-Bayda), and his advocacy against the forcible deportation of Syrian refugees garnered significant media coverage in the Lebanese press. As a result, he has been subjected to abusive legal challenges and other forms of intimidation, particularly from the General Security Directorate and the Military Prosecution.

On 23 September 2021, the Government’s Commissioner to the Military Court, Judge Fadi Akiki and the Military Police, pressured one of Sablouh’s clients, a detainee in the Fakhr El-Din facility, to testify that Sablouh’s allegations of torture were fabricated, according to family members. On 28 September, the Military Prosecution sent a letter to the Tripoli Bar Association requesting the authorization to prosecute Sablouh under article 403 of the Lebanese Penal Code, which penalizes false accusations. This request indicates that the Lebanese authorities are initiating retaliatory legal proceedings against Sablouh in an attempt to discredit his legally sanctioned work documenting instances of torture.

By obstructing the work of lawyers, Lebanon is violating its own laws and criminal procedures as well as its international human rights obligations. The UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers requires governments to ensure that lawyers “are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference” and that they “shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.” On 8 October, Sablouh’s case was submitted to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the independence of judges and lawyers and on human rights defenders.

Call to action

We, the undersigned national and international human rights organizations, call on Lebanon to respect the work of lawyers and others advocating on behalf of victims of torture and to  adhere to its legal obligations to prevent and punish the use of torture.

We call on the Lebanese authorities, and particularly the Military Prosecution and the General Security Directorate, to:

[…]

https://menarights.org/en/articles/coalition-human-rights-organizations-call-lebanese-authorities-cease-intimidation-human

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/north-africa-middle-east/lebanon/lebanon-cease-the-intimidation-of-human-rights-lawyer-mohammed

Advocacy charter Hungary

07/10/21

Advocacy charter Hungary

Lawyers for Lawyers, together with the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), submitted an advocacy charter to several country delegations to draw attention to the situation of lawyers in Hungary with regard to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Hungary. In March 2021, Lawyers for Lawyers and the IBAHRI submitted a report for the UPR of Hungary.

In the report, Lawyers for Lawyers and the IBAHRI have expressed their concern about the independence of the legal profession, legislative initiatives by the Hungarian government, and the public rhetoric against lawyers and judges.

Lawyers for Lawyers and the IBAHRI have expressed their concern about the independence of the legal profession, legislation and legislative initiatives impacting the judicial independence, and the public rhetoric against lawyers and judges. With adoption of the so-called “Stop Soros” legislation of 2018, the Hungarian government has restricted the rights of lawyers to carry out their professional duties independently and curtained their freedom of association by criminalizing the legal assistance provided by the immigration lawyers and legal NGOs to undocumented migrants.

Moreover, the Hungarian government adopted a new law in 2019 that targets the independence of the judicial system by granting the possibility to public authorities to file a constitutional complaint with the Constitutional Court instead of passing through the ordinary court system. As the independence of the Constitutional Court has been seriously undermined by the governing majority, the Court has been reluctant to hold authorities accountable for their wrongful acts. Moreover, through this new law Constitutional Court judges after their retirement could almost automatically become judges of the Hungarian Supreme Court. This would allow the ruling majority, which currently needs two-third majority in Parliament to elect Constitutional Court justices, to indirectly select and have so-called ‘loyal judges’ at the Supreme Court as well. This might have a direct effect on further eroding impartiality principle.

Lastly, according to our information, media sources have been widely used in Hungary to target, discredit, and demonize lawyers and judges that criticize the government, and uphold human rights. Herewith, the public rhetoric portrays lawyers as the enemies of the Hungarian state as well as defenders of terrorists and criminals.

https://www.upr-info.org/en/review/Hungary

Iraq: Rights lawyer Ali Jaseb Hattab Al Heliji disappeared since arrest in Amarah on October 8, 2019

08/10/21

On October 8, 2019, human rights lawyer Ali Jaseb Hattab Al Heliji went to the southern city of Amarah to meet one of his clients. However, shortly after arriving at the rendezvous point, he was arrested by members of the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU). As a lawyer, Al Heliji had represented several demonstrators arrested in connection with the anti-government October demonstrations. On March 10, 2021, his father was assasinated in the city of Amarah.

Ali Jaseb Hattab Al Heliji is a human rights lawyer representing demonstrators arrested in connection with the recent anti-government demonstrations. On October 1, 2019, protests started in Baghdad and southern cities calling for improved services and more action to curb corruption. The demonstrations were met by excessive and unnecessary lethal force by Iraqi security forces and have resulted in a hundred people killed and about 4000 injured.

On October 6, 2019, two armed men from the PMU came to Ali Jaseb Hattab’s home to warn him from speaking out on Facebook about the killing of protesters and to stop accusing certain factions of the PMU of being responsible for these killings. The armed men then threatened Ali Jaseb Hattab that they would kill him if he did not stop.

On October 8, 2019, Ali Jaseb Hattab received a call from one of his clients who wanted to meet. The two men were supposed to meet in the southern city of Amara in the Missan province. However, when Al Heliji arrived at the rendezvous point, armed men in two black pick-up trucks belonging to the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) dragged him away from his car, where he stood speaking to his client, and then drove him away in one of the trucks. When Ali Jaseb Hattab’s relatives reported his abduction, local security forces told them that they were not aware of his arrest. His fate and whereabouts remain unknown to date.

On March 10, 2021, Ali Jaseb Hattab’s father, Jaseb Hattab Al Heliji, was shot dead in the city of Amarah, in the Iraqi governorate of Maysan. He was a vocal advocate for his son, constantly calling for his release and for criminal sanctions against the parties responsible for his disappearance.

[…]

https://www.menarights.org/en/caseprofile/human-rights-lawyer-ali-jasib-hattab-al-heliji-disappeared-arrest-amarah-october-8-2019

https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2636

https://www.amnesty.de/mitmachen/urgent-action/irak-menschenrechtsanwalt-weiterhin-verschwunden-2020-11-06 (DEUTSCH)

Burundi: Lawyer’s Conviction a Travesty of Justice

08/10/21

Tony Germain Nkina

Appeals Court Upholds 5-Year Sentence for Tony Germain Nkina

The decision in the Court of Appeal of Ngozi to uphold the conviction and five-year prison sentence for a lawyer who had been affiliated to a human rights group in Burundi was a travesty of justice, Human Rights Watch and five other international human rights groups said today. The following is their statement:

Shocking Decision as Appeal Court Upholds Conviction of Lawyer Tony Germain Nkina

Six international human rights groups – Amnesty International, the Burundi Human Rights Initiative, DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project), Human Rights Watch, Protection International Africa and TRIAL International – condemned the decision of the Court of Appeal of Ngozi on 29 September to uphold the conviction and five-year prison sentence of Burundian lawyer Tony Germain Nkina following an unfair trial.

“Tony Germain Nkina’s trial was a travesty of justice,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The decision by the Court of Appeal to keep him in prison, despite all the evidence about the unfairness of the trial, makes a mockery of the Burundian justice system.”

The groups believe that Nkina, a lawyer in Kayanza province, was arrested and convicted because of his former affiliation with the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (Association pour la protection des droits humains et des personnes détenues, APRODH), a leading human rights group in Burundi until 2015.

Nkina was APRODH’s representative in Kayanza until the government suspended the organization in 2015 as part of a crackdown on independent civil society. He has not worked for APRODH or any other Burundian civil society organization for the past six years.

Nkina was arrested on 13 October 2020 in Kabarore commune, where he was visiting a client for his professional work as a lawyer. In June 2021, a court in Kayanza found him guilty of collaboration with armed groups – a common accusation against perceived opponents and critics in Burundi – and sentenced him to five years in prison. His client, Apollinaire Hitimana, whom he had been advising on a land dispute, was found guilty of complicity in the same offence and sentenced to two and a half years in prison. The Court of Appeal also confirmed Hitimana’s conviction and sentence.

[…]

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/10/08/burundi-lawyers-conviction-travesty-justice

https://burundihri.org/english/joint_statements.php

https://www.miragenews.com/lawyers-conviction-travesty-of-justice-in-648162/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/09/24/international-scrutiny-rights-situation-burundi-should-continue

https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2021/10/08/burundi-la-condamnation-de-lavocat-tony-germain-nkina-est-une-parodie-de-justice (FRANCAIS)

https://www.burundidaily.net/post/appel-a-la-liberation-de-maitre-tony-germain-nkina-ecroue-pour-collaboration-avec-red-tabara

https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2021/08/10/burundi-liberez-lavocat-tony-germain-nkina

Concerns about criminal investigation into Thai lawyer Waraporn Utairangsee

29/09/21

Concerns about criminal investigation into Thai lawyer Waraporn Utairangsee

Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned about criminal proceedings that have been initiated against Thai lawyer Waraporn Utairangsee for actions undertaken in her capacity as legal representative of the ethnic Karen minority group.

Waraporn Utairangsee is a lawyer active in Thailand for the Human Rights Lawyers Association, who is currently representing the ethnic Karen minority group. According to our information, criminal proceedings have been initiated against her based on an accusation of giving false information on a criminal offence. Ms. Waraporn was reported to the police by Mr. Chaiwait Limlikhitaksorn, the former Chief of the Kaeng Krachan National Park on 27 July 2021. Ms. Waraporn reported a criminal case against Mr. Chaiwat for burning ethnic Karen villages and forcible eviction of the villagers this village in Kaeng Krachan National Park during 5 to 9 May 2011. Mr. Chaiwat disputes this course of events and has therefore accused Ms. Waraporn and her client, spiritual leader Mr. Ko-I Mimi of the Karen ethnic group of providing false information about a criminal event. According to reports received by Lawyers for Lawyers, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled on 6 October 2016 that the actions of the Kaeng Krachan National Park’s officers, led by Mr. Chaiwat, between 5 to 9 May 2011, were unlawful.

According to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Ms. Waraporn should be able to defend her clients, the ethnic Karen minority group, without being criminally prosecuted for actions and statements made within her capacity as a lawyer, such as reporting a criminal charge against the unlawful behaviour of Mr. Chaiwat. Lawyers for Lawyers emphasizes that lawyers in Thailand should be able to carry out their legitimate professional rights and duties without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Lawyers for Lawyers will continue to monitor Ms. Waraporn’s case.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2079095/karen-forest-dwellers-nabbed

https://tlhr2014.com/en/archives/tag/thai-lawyers-for-human-rights-en

ATTACKS ON HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS IN ZIMBABWE

21/09/21

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The latest research report by the ZLHR highlights the current situation of lawyers in Zimbabwe. The report outlines the political situation in Zimbabwe, as well the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally the report demonstrates how lawyers in Zimbabwe have been barred from representing their clients, have become subjects to arbitrary arrests, and have even been attacked for practicing their profession. Read on for more on this.

Introduction

Lawyers play a vital role in upholding the rule of law and the protection of human rights, including the rights to effective remedy, due process of law, fair trial and the right of freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Their work is indispensable for public confidence in the administration of justice, and to ensure effective justice for all. All persons are entitled to call upon the assistance of a lawyer of their choice to provide legal services. It is the responsibility of lawyers to protect and establish the rights of citizens from whatever manner in which those rights may be threatened and defend them in all stages of legal proceedings. To fulfil their professional duties effectively, lawyers should be able to practice law independently in accordance with recognized laws, standards and ethics. They should be free from improper interferences, any fear of reprisals, or unreasonable restrictions.

[…]

Attacks against lawyers

The beginning of 2020 saw an increase in the number of arrests of Zimbabwean lawyers, and in the restrictions placed on lawyers in their freedoms to carry out their profession. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and government enforced restrictions, resulted in an increase in these numbers. Alec Muchadehama, a human rights lawyer from Zimbabwe, describes the situation of lawyers under the lockdown as follows:

“ [W]e had insurmountable difficulties moving to police stations and the Courts. We would be frisked at the check points. We would not be allowed to pass despite identifying ourselves as lawyers. Whilst we were prevented from reaching our clients, they were being over detained and being held incommunicado. The case of Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova makes sad reading. They were kidnapped by suspected State security agents. On 5 May 2020 they temporarily disappeared and were discovered 36 hours later, severely tortured. They are now facing allegations of breaking the COVID-19 regulations and spreading falsehoods prejudicial to the State.”

Recommendations

L4L and ZLHR call upon the Zimbabwean authorities to guarantee in all circumstances that lawyers in Zimbabwe are able to carry out their legitimate professional rights and duties without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment. In its task of promoting and ensuring the proper role of lawyers, the Government of Zimbabwe should respect, and take account of, the Basic Principles within the framework of its national legislation and practice. Adherence to the Basic Principles is considered a fundamental pre-condition to fulfilling the requirement that all persons have effective access to legal assistance and representation. Furthermore, as a member of the African Union and the UN, and as a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Zimbabwe has legal obligations to adopt measures that effectively ensure rights to liberty, freedom from arbitrary detention, freedom of expression, and fair trial.

You can access the full report here (783KB PDF)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimbabwe_Lawyers_for_Human_Rights#:~:text=Zimbabwe%20Lawyers%20for%20Human%20Rights%20(ZLHR)%20is%20a%20not%20for,of%20the%20rule%20of%20law.