Tag Archives: Lawyers for Lawyers

Thailand: June, defending her right to stand up for others in Thailand

The story of Sirikan “June” Charoensiri, human rights lawyer from Thailand

She never asked for any of it. Not the awards. Not the grave charges filed against her. All she ever wanted was to defend others in the courtroom, but she ended up having to defend herself.

Despite circumstances conspiring against her, the 33-year-old Thai human rights lawyer manages to draw strength from her predicaments.

Sirikan “June” Charoensiri (@JCharoensiri) carries the burden of responsibility with astonishing grit and perseverance. She is always humble but with a laser sharp focus on what needs to be achieved.

 

Self-granted special powers

On the day of the interview, June’s colleagues submitted a petition to amend or revoke at least thirty-five orders issued by the junta since the 2014 coup d’état in Thailand. Hundreds of pieces of law were passed in the past five years by the junta leadership, better known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The NCPO exercised its sweeping powers granted by the 2014 interim Constitution — and by and large confirmed by the 2017 Constitution — to issue judicial, legislative, and executive orders that can’t be challenged in the court.

Only a new parliament can roll back what June calls a “dictatorial legacy.” Prayuth Chan-ocha, former army chief and leader of the pro-junta Palang Pracharat Party, has already been reappointed as Prime Minister following the general election in March 2019. A new Cabinet is also in place, and several military orders and decrees have been lifted. But June remains concerned. “Many Thai people think the junta-era restrictions are over, but military authorities can still detain civilians up to seven days without judicial oversight. Also, offenses under NCPO decrees remain in place. So far, only 70 of the 557 decrees issues by the NCPO are being repealed (for more details read this analysis piece written by Thai Lawyers for Human Rights).”

‘Fast horse lawyers’

Before the 2014 coup happened, June was working in the southern region bordering Malaysia — an area under protracted violence for a long time. When martial law, in the wake of Thailand’s twelfth coup d’état, was implemented, she knew what would come. She met late one night with a few fellow lawyers. The small group decided to form a task force made up of lawyers, social activists, and volunteers, focused on preventing the abuse of power they all expected to occur.

June

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

Colombia/Germany: PBI-Colombia at meeting with German ambassador and threatened lawyer Germán Romero

October 17, 2019

On October 16, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project posted, “Thank you very much to [German ambassador Peter Ptassek] and [the German embassy in Colombia] for their support for the work of human rights defenders in Colombia and the work of the victims’ representatives in this difficult context.”

This followed the German ambassador’s tweet that said, “Don’t touch my friend: We act in the protection of fair cause fighters. In this case we support the great work of Germán Romero for more rule of law and defence of victims. That their protection is not symbolic against threats. Thank you [Network of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia] for your visit.”

On October 10, PBI-Colombia also tweeted, “Many thanks to the Embassy [of Norway in Colombia] for its support for human rights defenders of dhColombia with Germán Romero who receives death threats for defending victims of extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances.”

El Espectador has explained that Romero, who represents victims of state agents, received a death threat on October 3 via his landline telephone and that his computer (with sensitive information about his cases) was stolen previous to that.

The same number has called Romero’s landline twice sent then, but they are silent when the telephone is answered.

That article also notes that Romero represents those affected by the Palace of Justice case, the construction of the Hidroituango hydroelectric dam as well as journalist Claudia Julieta Duque (who is accompanied by PBI-Colombia).

You can read more in our article Colombian human rights lawyer Germán Romero Sánchez receives death threat.

PBI-Colombia at meeting with German ambassador and threatened lawyer Germán Romero

Colombian human rights lawyer Germán Romero Sánchez receives death threat

Demand Protection for Atty. Germán Romero Sánchez

https://lawyersforlawyers.org/wp-content/uploads/Provisional-list-Colombian-lawyers.pdf

https://www.icj.org/es/colombia-la-cij-expresa-su-preocupacion-por-las-recientes-amenazas-sufridas-por-el-abogado-de-derechos-humanos-german-romero-sanchez/ (ESPANOL)

https://www.elespectador.com/noticias/judicial/no-te-voy-dejar-vivo-toda-la-vida-amenazan-abogado-de-victimas-de-agentes-estatales-articulo-884882 (ESPANOL)

https://www.justiciaypazcolombia.com/contexto-de-persecucion-y-robo-de-informacion-a-representante-de-victimas-el-abogado-german-romero-sanchez-integrante-de-dhcolombia/ (ESPANOL)

The Philippines: Rights lawyers pay tribute to ‘fallen heroes’

October 20, 2019

“Marami palang Ben dito.”

This was the statement of Clarissa Ramos, wife of slain Negros-based human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos Jr., as his colleagues from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers paid tribute to their “fallen heroes” on Oct. 19.

Ramos was shot dead in the evening of Nov. 6, 2018 in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental. He served as the go-to lawyer for the farmers and other poor of Negros. Among the last cases he handled was the case of the infamous Sagay 14 massacre.

Read: Rights lawyer gunned down in Negros

Clarissa accepted a painting from Ben’s colleagues who gathered here in Rizal Park Hotel in Manila for the 5th National Congress of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).

“I urge the lawyers here to continue genuinely fighting for the people. Ben would always say there is nothing wrong with organizing and there is nothing wrong in defending the oppressed,” said Clarissa, adding that it is the “people will be the judge of our history.”

Apart from Ramos, the NUPL also paid tribute to lawyers Manuel Tan, Ramon Te, and slain lawyers Rodolfo Felicio and Concepcion Brizuela, one of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

Rights lawyers pay tribute to ‘fallen heroes’

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/philippines-killing-of-human-rights-lawyer-benjamin-ramos

Lawyer Rodolfo Felicio killed

http://manilastandard.net/opinion/columns/eagle-eyes-by-tony-la-vina/293568/a-matrix-of-evil-lies.html

https://lawyersforlawyers.org/en/lawyers/connie-brizuela/

Lawyers’ group starts buildup of cases vs Duterte

https://www.euronews.com/2019/10/23/philippine-vp-says-time-for-duterte-to-halt-failed-drug-war

https://nupl.net/

Attacks on Filipino Lawyers and law workers 23 Sept 19 (IAPL MONITORING COMMITTEE REPORT)

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Tribute to Atty. Benjamin T. Ramos, Jr. and other NUPL Heroes

(National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers Facebook, 19/10/19)

IAPL SOLIDARITY STATEMENT TO NUPL CONGRESS

On the occasion of the  5th Congress of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, the International Association of People’s Lawyers sends best wishes for a productive meeting.

In solidarity, we salute the brave human rights lawyers of the NUPL who have chosen the path of resistance to tyranny, carrying on the struggle for social justice through juridical and other avenues.

You will be discussing issues of great importance and of universal significance for all organizations seeking to further the cause of social justice and the  fulfillment of the promise of the rule of law: “Unifying Our Ranks to Strengthen the Protection and Advancement of Human Rights in the Face of Adversity” under the theme:  “Conquering Challenges in People’s Lawyering”.

It is a mark of the maturity and sophistication of the NUPL that you have chosen this opportunity to gather together to reflect upon your collective capacity to achieve the aims of the NUPL under the extreme repression you face collectively and individually.

In this era of global state terror and corporate dominance of civil society, lawyers are in the frontline around the globe, bearing the brunt of authoritarian state power. Thus the NUPL has been for years subject to attacks of many kinds ranging from assassination through trumped up charges to defamatory red tagging. At this momentous Congress you will be remembering those members who have fallen to the guns of assassins who act with impunity, and we join you in paying respect to those fallen colleagues.

But take pride in your achievements, and the NUPL’s determined, brave resistance. You are a lighthouse showing the way to the lawyers of the world. The NUPL is now legendary, a model for those in other countries where lawyers for human and environmental rights and social justice are being hunted down and executed.

When the Duterte regime is in the ashcan of history, the NUPL will be there for the people.

Prof. Gill Boehringer

Prof. Stuart Russell

Co-Chairs, IAPL   October 18, 2019

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Russia: Russian Lawyer Who Defended Detainees Fined For ‘Attack’ On Police

October 11, 2019

Michail Benyash appears in court during his trial in Krasnodar.

A Russian lawyer and human rights activist has been found guilty of attacking police and fined 30,000 rubles ($468) by a Krasnodar court in connection with his detention while he was trying to provide legal advice to protesters being taken into police custody at an anti-government rally a year ago.

Mikhail Benyash had faced up to five years in prison, and investigators were reportedly seeking a larger fine.

International rights group Amnesty International has called the charges against Benyash “politically motivated.”

He has spent the past decade working on civil and criminal cases and “has been providing legal assistance to the participants of rallies which were not officially approved,” according to Frontline Defenders, a Dublin-based group that seeks to protect “at-risk” human rights defenders.

Benyash was arrested on September 9, 2018, in Krasnodar, where he went to provide legal assistance to participants in an unsanctioned protest during a wave of public rallies against Russian pension reform.

He was initially ordered to spend two weeks in jail in September 2018 for allegedly disobeying police.

Later, he was charged with “using violence against a government official,” leading to this latest conviction.

https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-lawyer-who-defended-detainees-fined-for-attack-on-police/30212351.html

https://www.eng.kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/48748/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/10/04/russia-defense-lawyer-arrested-beaten

https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur46/9295/2018/en/

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/mikhail-benyash

https://lawyersforlawyers.org/en/lawyers/mikhail-benyash/

 

Egypt: Largest wave of mass arrests since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power

October 2, 2019

Over the past 12 days, Egyptian authorities have launched the biggest crackdown under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s rule rounding up more than 2,300 people – at least 111 of them children – said Amnesty International today. The authorities have carried out sweeping arrests of hundreds of peaceful protesters as well as carrying out more targeted arbitrary arrests of human rights lawyers, journalists, political activists and politicians.

The vast majority of those arrested are being investigated as part of one single case. If referred to trial, it would be the largest protest-related criminal case in Egypt’s history.

“President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government has orchestrated this crackdown to crush the slightest sign of dissent and silence every government critic. The wave of unprecedented mass arrests, which included many who were not even involved in the protests, sends a clear message – anyone perceived to pose a threat to Sisi’s government will be crushed,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director for Amnesty International.

“Participating in a peaceful protest is not a crime. The Egyptian authorities’ draconian response to the peaceful demonstrations illustrates their utter contempt for human rights and displays a flagrant disregard for the rights to peaceful protest and freedom of expression. The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release anyone detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of assembly or expression.“

In a rare challenge to President al-Sisi, and his government, small protests broke out in several cities across Egypt starting on 20 September. The Egyptian authorities sought to prevent a second round of protests on 27 September by shutting down large parts of downtown Cairo and carrying out mass arrests.

An official statement from Egypt’s Office of the Public Prosecutor on 26 September stated that “less than 1,000 people” have been interrogated in relation to their peaceful participation in protests. It confirmed that the defendants’ social media accounts had been searched for evidence of “incitement to protesting”. The statement mentioned that calls to protest posted on social media would be considered evidence of the “crime” of “unauthorized assembly”.

Human rights lawyers working with organizations including the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) and Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) have documented at least 2,300 arrests so far. According to lawyers, scores of detainees have been released without questioning, but many others continue to appear in front of prosecutors.

Lawyers, journalists and politicians rounded up

Amnesty International has documented the arrest of 10 journalists, remarkably most of them working for pro-government media outlets, primarily in Suez and Mahalla, and at least 25 politicians and academics from four different political parties. They include Khaled Dawoud, journalist and former head of liberal Dostour party, as well as political science professors Hassan Nefea and Hazem Hosny. At least ten are facing investigation on “terrorism-related” charges.

In a serious blow to defendants’ rights to provide a legal defence, lawyers have also been targeted with at least four arrested while carrying out their work and a total of 16 lawyers have been arrested.

On 29 September, human rights lawyer and director of the Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms Mohamed el-Baqer entered the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) building to represent detained activist Alaa Abdelfattah only to be arrested on the same unfounded charges as his client. These include “membership in a banned group” and “spreading false information”. The prosecutor questioned him about his organization’s work and did not present any evidence against him except a National Security Agency investigation report, which neither he nor his lawyer have been allowed to examine.

Amnesty International considers Mohammed el-Baqer a prisoner of conscience who is detained solely for his work defending victims of human rights violations. The organization is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

“The vast scale and arbitrary nature of the arrests is clear indicator of how unnerved the Egyptian authorities are feeling about the prospect of further protests,” said Najia Bounaim.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/10/egypt-largest-wave-of-mass-arrests-since-president-abdel-fattah-al-sisi-came-to-power/

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/egypts-human-rights-lawyers-come-under-states-fire

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/egypt-thousands-arrested-biggest-crackdown-el-sisi-191002174627211.html

https://www.cfjustice.org/portal/2019/10/01/egypt-all-are-vulnerable-as-government-plunges-into-frenzied-quest-to-eliminate-opposition/

https://www.newsweek.com/3000-arrested-egypt-latest-uprising-president-abdel-fattah-sisi-biggest-crackdown-yet-1463023

https://www.dw.com/en/egyptian-protest-anger-justified-rights-activist-says/a-50668351

https://madamasr.com/en/2019/10/01/feature/politics/despite-release-of-at-least-96-detainees-calls-for-more-open-political-process-tense-security-situation-highlighted-by-arrest-of-lawyers-persists/

https://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/egypt/2019/09/d25523/

https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/amid-crackdown-leading-egyptian-rights-activist-arrested

Protests rattle Egypt, Bahraini women political prisoners expose abuse, and journalist jailed over abortion

https://www.york.ac.uk/cahr/news/2019/mohamedel-baqerarrest/

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/arrest-mohamed-el-baqer

Egypt: amidst the crackdown, lawyers are also a target

Letter on arrest Mahienour El-Massry

https://www.movedemocracy.org/alert-egypt-targets-lawyers

Rampant media campaign against human rights organizations: Are the Egyptian authorities paving the way for escalating their oppression of human rights defenders?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahienour_El-Massry

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Egyptian_protests

https://www.aljazeera.net/news/politics/2019/10/2/%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B5%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D9%82%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%B3%D8%AC%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%A7-%D9%83%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%86%D8%B8%D9%85%D8%A9 (ARABIC)

https://arabic.euronews.com/2019/09/22/egyptian-human-rights-lawyer-mahinour-el-masri-arrested?fbclid=IwAR0r_Z3IXMk2Up_p0SEe6Z8O9VIWgCpxp8qaA8EhLhKzT_PnCTVjlAzbfoM (ARABIC)

https://egyptianfront.org/ar/2019/10/new-case-against-hrd/ (ARABIC)

https://www.amnesty.org/fr/latest/news/2019/10/egypt-largest-wave-of-mass-arrests-since-president-abdel-fattah-al-sisi-came-to-power/ (FRANCAIS)

https://ifex.org/fr/legypte-submergee-par-les-bruits-des-manifestants-des-prisonnieres-politiques-bahreiniennes-denoncent-des-abus-et-une-journaliste-jetee-en-prison-pour-avortement/ (FRANCAIS)

https://www.protect-lawyers.com/en/lawyer/6389/ (FRANCAIS)

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(L’Observatoire des Avocats Facebook, 01/10/19)

 

 

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International Bar Association: IBA 2019: ‘Enthusiastic amateurs’ wanted to protect lawyers at risk

September 27, 2019

Simon Davis IBA

Commercial lawyers can do their bit as ‘enthusiastic amateurs’ to help protect colleagues at risk and the rule of law in general around the world, the president of the Law Society told the global legal profession today.

‘We need to ensure we are capturing the imagination and influence of the enthusiastic amateur,’ Davis told a packed closing session of the International Bar Association’s annual conference discussing ways to address the persecution of lawyers and judges.

By uniting in solidarity the profession can show that human rights lawyers are not just some isolated group to be picked off by hostile authorities, Davis said.

‘You can be a human rights lawyer in any organisation – we are all human rights lawyers,’ the Clifford Chance partner said.

The conference heard accounts of lawyers being threatened, imprisoned and murdered in countries as diverse as Turkey, Thailand and Venezuela. In the Philippines alone, 44 lawyers have been killed over the past three years, Erik Hammerstein, a commercial litigator who sites on the board of Netherlands group Lawyers for Lawyers said.

Noting this year’s furore over the granting of legal aid to a solicitor acting for a fugitive from justice, Davis said that the battle to protect the independence of the legal profession also had to be fought at home.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/iba-2019-enthusiastic-amateurs-wanted-to-protect-lawyers-at-risk/5101596.article

https://www.ibanet.org/Conferences/Seoul-2019.aspx

https://www.ibanet.org/

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/iba-2019-lawyers-must-stand-against-populism/5101575.article

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OSCE/Poland: Lawyers Under Threat in OSCE Region: Identifying Trends and Finding Solutions

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Side event: Lawyers Under Threat in OSCE Region. Tomorrow 25 September from 18.15-19.45 at the Warsaw National Stadium in the Plenary Hall.

(Lawyers for Lawyers Facebook, 24/09/19)

Side event: Lawyers Under Threat in OSCE Region