July 19, 2019
A human rights lawyer who was detained in December for sharing a picture of himself wearing a yellow vest on Facebook in solidarity with protesters in France has had his appeal rejected by a court in Egypt.
Mohamed Ramadan was arrested for allegedly joining and promoting a terror group and inciting demonstrations and sentenced to 15 days in prison, but is still being detained seven months later.
At that time protesters in France demonstrating against high living costs and low wages wearing the trademark yellow safety vests forced French President Emmanuel Macron to cancel fuel tax increases and raise wages.
To prevent copycat protests ahead of the anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution authorities blocked the sale of vests and claimed to have found eight in Ramadan’s possession.
Read: Over 1,000 rights violations in Egypt in 2019, says NGO
Ramadan, who once defended human rights activists and political prisoners in Egypt, is being held in pre-trial detention pending further investigation, which is constantly being renewed.
In December, Ramadan’s lawyer said he was being held in solitary confinement and is suffering a series of health complications including high blood pressure and respiratory complications, and is not being given access to adequate health care.
Egypt: Detention of human rights ‘yellow vest’ lawyer renewed
Arrest of lawyer Mohamed Ramadan
July 15, 2019
On 10 July 2019 the Dutch consulate in Istanbul hosted a special event in honor of the Lawyers for Lawyers Award given to lawyerSelçuk Kozağaçlı from Turkey. Kozağaçlı, who is currently serving a long prison sentence in Turkey, has accepted the award under the condition that it is dedicated to all lawyers and others who are in prison as a consequence of their work to protect the rule of law and human rights.
The event at the consulate was opened by consul-general Bart van Bolhuis, who emphasized that the consulate supports, and will keep on supporting, lawyers in Turkey who are under pressure, prosecuted and detained because of their human rights work. L4L-president Irma van den Berg handed over the award to mr. Kozağaçlı’s colleague and wife, Betül Vangölü Kozağaçlı applauding the dedication and courage of mr. Kozağaçlı and his colleagues. Mrs. Vangölü underlined that it is the responsibility of every lawyer to protect the rule of law and human rights, even if this is at personal risk.
The event was attended by the president of the Bar Association of Istanbul, mr. Mehmet Durakoğlu, other lawyers, and international observers from Greece, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland. The international observers were in Istanbul to attend the hearing in the so-called CHD-1 case, in which both Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Betül Vangölü Kozağaçlı stand trial.
The award ceremony itself took place on 23 May 2019, in the presence of Dutch Minister of Justice Ferdinand Grapperhaus, and more than 200 people including lawyers from the Netherlands and abroad. Serife Ceren Uysal received the award on behalf of mr. Kozağaçlı, as he was absent due to his prison sentence.
Selçuk Kozağaçlı to receive L4L Award 2019
L4L observed hearing in the CHD-1 trial
Turkey: ICJ Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
Turkey : IBAHRI and ICJ observe criminal trial on “Gezi Park” protests
July 10, 2019
Lawyers for Lawyers is deeply concerned over the ‘red-tagging’ of lawyers and lawyers’ groups in the Philippines as it puts lawyers’ safety and independence at risk. On 11 July, a court hearing takes place where members of the military must comment on a human rights lawyers’ request for protection.
The practise of labelling or “red-tagging”
In the Philippines, human rights lawyers are often criminalised and tagged as “communists” or “terrorists” because they are identified with their clients or their clients’ causes. Especially lawyers representing people who are accused of terrorist or drugs related crimes, or who have been critical to the government’s policies or behavior, such as journalists, political opposition leaders, and human rights defenders, are targeted.
This ‘red-tagging’ of lawyers and other individuals or groups is seen as a strategy used by State agents, particularly law enforcement agencies and the military,to encourage counterinsurgency programs and violent attacks against those perceived to be ‘threats’ or ‘enemies of the State.
Lawyers for Lawyers fears that the ‘red-tagging’ of lawyers put them in danger for simply doing their job.
Filipino lawyers at risk by state tagging
Stand for Human Rights, Support Call for UN probe in Philippines
Relentless red-tagging in Cagayan de Oro ‘scary and dangerous’
Rights group lauds Iceland’s resolution on PH rights situation
July 2, 2019
On 1 July 2019, Lawyers for Lawyers together with Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada and the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association delivered a joint oral statement to the Human Rights Council on the attacks on lawyers in China, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The statement was delivered during the 41st session of the Council.
The statement reads as follows:
In countries where lawyers are imprisoned and prosecuted for defending rights, there is no equal access to justice or protection of rights.
In China, numerous human rights lawyers have been disappeared, arbitrarily imprisoned, tortured, or disbarred. In Saudi Arabia, lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair is one of hundreds of rights defenders arbitrarily convicted and detained. In Turkey, 311 lawyers have been arbitrarily convicted and detained since July 2016. In the Philippines, 40 jurists are among the “staggering number” of victims of extrajudicial killings since July 2016. Last month, eleven Special Procedures mandate holders called for an independent investigation of grave abuses in the Philippines.
We urge Council to:
Statement: Attacks on lawyers in China, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Turkey
July 1, 2019
Today Lawyers for Lawyers delivered an oral statement during the 126th session of the Human Rights Committee for the review of Tajikistan’s compliance with it’s international human rights obligations. In July 2018, Lawyers for Lawyers submitted a submission for the List of Issues for this review, to inform the Committee about the situation of lawyers in Tadzjikistan.
Lawyers for Lawyers highlighted the failure of the authorities of the Republic of Tajikistan to ensure that all persons have effective and equal access to legal services provided by an independent legal profession.
Firstly, The legal profession lacks institutional independence. The admission to and the continued practice within the legal profession is controlled by the executive branch. The 2015 Law “On Advokatura and Advocates’ Activities” requires all lawyers to renew their accreditation and go through a new examination process, which must be redone every five years. Since the reform, the number of licensed lawyers in Tajikistan has fallen precipitously. This seems detrimental to access to justice. The process also carries the risk of misuse by authorities seeking to exclude or disbar lawyers.
Secondly, professional rights and privileges of lawyers who are still able to practice law are violated. Lawyers are repeatedly denied access to clients in detention and to appropriate information. Lawyer-client confidentiality and lawyers’ rights to freedom of expression and association are not respected. Furthermore, lawyers involved in sensitive cases are identified with their clients or their clients’ causes. These lawyers have been subjected to intimidation, harassment as well as arbitrary arrests, prosecutions and convictions. Some of them are now in prison after closed, unfair trials, or were forced to flee the country due to fears of reprisal. An emblematic case is the prosecution of Buzurgmehr Yorov, who is serving a combined sentence of 28 years in prison. As a result of these problems, lawyers are unable to provide effective legal representation.
Oral statement to Human Rights Committee
Tajikistan: ICJ calls for immediate release of imprisoned lawyer
UN committee offers grim view Tajikistan’s human rights record
June 26, 2019
Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned about the recent disbarment of Sergey Sizintsev, a senior partner at the De Facto law firm in Kazakhstan and former Executive Director of the Republican Bar Association.
According to our information, Sergey Sizintsev served as the Executive Director of the Republican Bar Association from 2016 to 2018. In this capacity, he actively criticized the law ‘On the Professional Activities of Advocates and Legal Assistance’, adopted in July 2018, which could undermine the independence of the legal profession in Kazakhstan. Moreover, he made public statements in multiple international and national settings with respect to issues related to the independence of the legal profession and has been critical about the work and functioning of the Ministry of Justice.
On 23 October 2018, Sizintsev was unexpectedly dismissed from his position as Executive Director of the Republic Bar Association. In March 2019, disbarment proceedings against him were initiated by the Ministry of Justice, based on Article 44 of the 2018 law ‘On the Professional Activities of Advocates and Legal Assistance’. The official ground for these proceedings was that Sizintsev from 2016 to 2018 occupied the function of Executive Director of the National Bar Association, while at the same time continuing his legal practice and received salary for both functions.
On 21 May 2019, Sergey Sizintsev was disbarred by the Petropavlovsk Court. The court stated that Mr Sizintsev violated the law ‘On the Professional Activities of Advocates and Legal Assistance’, which would prohibit legal practice alongside paid employment that is not related to educational, scientific or creative activities.
Statement on disbarment Sergey Sizintsev
June 26, 2019
Lawyers have an essential role in upholding the Constitution and realising the rule of law – at the Human Rights Council 41st session this week, even China agreed. So why does the Chinese government continue to harass, intimidate and persecute lawyers who defend human rights ask 4 NGOs on 25 June 2019: Lawyers for Lawyers, International Bar Association, International Service for Human Rights and Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada. In a joint statement the NGOs call on the UN expert on independence of judges and lawyers, and the Council and its members, to press for accountability.
‘The Chinese delegation recognised the need for balance in regulation between lawyers’ and judges’ rights, on the one hand, and their professional responsibilities, on the other hand’,says Sarah M Brooks, Asia Advocate at ISHR. ‘But it is hard to take this claim seriously, as Chinese authorities continue to adopt abusive laws and measures, using them as a “sledgehammer” to restrict fundamental freedoms’.
This includes in particular lawyer Jiang Tianyong, who – since his nominal release from prison on 28 February 2019 – has been subject to invasive surveillance, restrictions on his freedom of movement, and refusal of independent medical exams. Worse, he is unnecessarily and inhumanely kept from joining his family in the U.S.
Lawyers key to the rule of law – even China agrees but only lip service
Joint oral statement to Human Rights Council
Lawyer Jiang Tianyong Freed From Prison but Not Free, Health Deteriorating