Tag Archives: Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

China: JOINT STATEMENT CALLING FOR THE RELEASE OF LI YUHAN

29/11/22

On the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, The 29 Principles, Lawyers for Lawyers, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), the International Bar Association’s Human Rights’ Institute (IBAHRI), the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), Front Line Defenders, the Law Society of England and Wales, the Institute for the Rule of Law of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA-IROL), the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, the American Association of the International Commission of Jurists, the Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers, the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, Avocats sans Frontières, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, The Rights Practice, Ordre des Barreaux Francophones et Germanophones de Belgique express their concern about the ongoing detention of Chinese human rights lawyers Li Yuhan. Li Yuhan has been detained in Shenyang City, the capital of the Northeastern province of Liaoning since October 2017. She was charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. Although her case was tried last year, there is still no verdict and her release date remains unknown.

Li Yuhan is a veteran lawyer who started practising in the 1990s, taking on numerous human rights cases such as Falon Gong and Christian underground churches. She also represented Wang Yu, one of the most prominent lawyers arrested in the “709 crackdown” – a mass arrest of human rights lawyers and other activists in 2015. The arrest of Li was regarded as retaliation for her involvement in Wang Yu’s case and other sensitive cases.

It is reported that she has been subjected to torture and ill-treatment while in detention, including insufficient food and being denied to receive adequate and appropriate medical treatment. Also, the authorities tried to force her to plead guilty and postponed her trial a few times until October 2021.  

Having been detained for more than five years, her health deteriorated rapidly and she suffers from arrhythmia, fluttering in chest and tremors, coronary heart disease, unstable angina, hyperthyroidism, acute erosive gastritis, cerebral concussion, and cerebral ischemia.

[…]

https://29principles.uk/en/contents/joint-statement-calling-release-li-yuhan

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/fr/statement-report/joint-statement-calling-release-li-yuhan

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

https://29principles.uk/zh-hant/contents/%E5%90%84%E5%9C%B0%E4%BA%BA%E6%AC%8A%E7%B5%84%E7%B9%94%E6%96%BC%E3%80%8C%E5%9C%8B%E9%9A%9B%E5%A5%B3%E6%80%A7%E4%BA%BA%E6%AC%8A%E6%8D%8D%E8%A1%9B%E8%80%85%E6%97%A5%E3%80%8D%E8%81%AF%E5%90%88%E5%91%BC%E7%B1%B2%E8%A6%81%E6%B1%82%E7%AB%8B%E5%8D%B3%E9%87%8B%E6%94%BE%E6%9D%8E%E6%98%B1%E5%87%BD%E5%BE%8B%E5%B8%AB%EF%BC%88%E5%8F%AA%E6%9C%89%E8%8B%B1%E6%96%87%E7%89%88%EF%BC%89 (CHINESE)

Iran holding protesters at secret prisons, says lawyer who fled

25/11/22

Anti-government protesters arrested in Iran‘s city of Mashhad are being held at secret prisons that lack proper amenities, a lawyer who fled the country with her family over fears for their safety has said.

Thousands of Iranians are believed to have been arrested for taking part in the nationwide protests that broke out in mid September and show no signs of abating despite a violent crackdown that has claimed nearly 400 lives, according to human rights groups.

Lawyer Marzieh Mohebi said she came to know of at least one such “black site” for detainees in Mashhad in the weeks before she fled the city.

“I am aware of new places designated for prisoners in Mashhad which do not meet the criteria for prison. They don’t have toilets, places for eating, or a medical facility for treating wounds,” Ms Mohebi told The National.

The families of some detainees have no idea where their children are, she said.

“The families of those prisoners are being kept in the dark by the Islamic Revolutionary Court and Ministry of Justice. They are in a very bad situation.”

Ms Mohebi, who has been practising law for more than two decades, was lauded by state media in 2017 for the pro bono legal assistance provided by the Soura Women Lawyers Association that she founded. She declined to say what circumstances prompted her to flee Iran, except that she feared for her family’s safety.

Iran’s judiciary said two weeks ago that it had issued arrest warrants for 1,000 people in relation to the protests, which were sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a young woman arrested by the morality police in Tehran on charges of breaching the country’s strict dress code.

[…]

https://www.thenationalnews.com/mena/iran/2022/11/25/iran-holding-protesters-at-secret-prisons-says-lawyer-who-fled/

https://www.uianet.org/fr/actualites/iran-joint-statement-behalf-various-international-bar-associations-and-lawyers?backlist

https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements-and-speeches/2022/11/deteriorating-human-rights-situation-islamic-republic-iran

https://www.law.com/international-edition/2022/11/24/iran-must-release-imprisoned-lawyers-uk-legal-regulator-urges/

https://www.letemps.ch/monde/une-avocate-iranienne-denonce-impossible-defendre-manifestants (FRANCAIS)

https://www.cnb.avocat.fr/fr/actualites/retour-sur-lassemblee-generale-du-18-novembre-2022

Letter to Colombian authorities on the risk situation of lawyer Luz Romero Villalba and the Association COLEMAD

07/11/22

Together with the International Observatory at Risk (OIAD), Lawyers for Lawyers, International Caravan of Jurists, Lawyers Rights Watch Canada and Global Justice Association, has informed the Colombian authorities of its concern about the information received regarding the situation of Luz Estella Romero Villalba and the other members of the Asociación Colectivo Mujeres al Derecho (ASOCOLEMAD), an association of women lawyers and human rights defenders in Colombia.

In the communication, the organisations have urged the Colombian institutions and authorities to:

  • Take all necessary measures to guarantee the safety and physical and psychological integrity of those who make up ASCOLEMAD, within the framework of protection programs and international standards;
  • Guarantee, under all circumstances, that human rights defence lawyers in Colombia can carry out their activities in defence of human rights without fear of reprisals and without restrictions and with respect for the United Nations Basic Principles of the Role of Lawyers, signed in Havana in 1990.

Likewise, in particular, we urge the Office of the Attorney General to observe due diligence and guarantee the rights to due process, defence, access to justice and the right to information in the investigation of the reported facts.

Read full letter here.

https://www.infobae.com/america/colombia/2022/10/19/luz-stella-romero-villalba-es-la-ganadora-del-premio-nacional-de-derechos-humanos/ (ESPANOL)

(FRANCAIS)

Tunisia: Joint statement on the arbitrary prosecution of Tunisian lawyers Hayet Eljazer and Ayoub Ghedamsi

01/11/22

Lawyers for Lawyers, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, The Law Society of England and Wales and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute are concerned about the arbitrary prosecution of Hayet Eljazer and Ayoub Ghedamsi. Mrs Eljazer and Mr. Ghedamsi have been charged with “insulting a public official from the justice system” in connection to their legitimate professional activities. We call on the Tunisian authorities to immediately halt the criminal prosecution of the lawyers.

Hayet Eljazer and Ayoub Ghedamsi are both members of the Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LTDH). They have represented many human rights defenders and worked on cases related to police violence and torture.

Hayet Eljazer and Ayoub Ghedamsi are charged with “insulting a public official from the justice system” according to articles 125 and 126 of the Penal Code. The charges against the lawyers are connected to their representation of a 67-year-old man and his son in a case concerning their ill-treatment, kidnapping and torture. According to the information received, the charges are based on a complaint filed by a Carthage District judge on 30 April 2020 against the two lawyers regarding their request to defer a case to another court due to a lack of impartiality, violation of due process and the concealment of violations of their clients’ rights. The reason for the Judge’s, complaint was that the lawyers presented evidence that their clients were forced to say that they had not been disappeared or tortured at a secret hearing without the presence of their lawyers.

On Wednesday 12 October 2022, the first hearing in the case against Hayet Eljazer and Ayoub Ghedamsi took place. 250 lawyers, including representatives from the Tunis Bar were present at court to show solidarity with the two lawyers. The next hearing is yet to be scheduled. If the lawyers are convicted and sentenced, they would face between two months and six years of imprisonment.

[…]

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/human-rights-defenders-and-lawyers-ayoub-ghedamsi-and-hayet-jazzar-summoned

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/ar/case/human-rights-defenders-and-lawyers-ayoub-ghedamsi-and-hayet-jazzar-summoned (ARABIC)

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/fr/case/human-rights-defenders-and-lawyers-ayoub-ghedamsi-and-hayet-jazzar-summoned (FRANCAIS)

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/fr/profile/hayet-jazzar

Interview: Rights Lawyer Turned Political Prisoner Condemns “Shameful” Acts Against Lawyers in Iran

22/03/22

Defense attorney Amirsalar Davoudi was imprisoned in Iran for running a social media channel that provided information to lawyers.

Human rights lawyers in Iran are a crucial lifeline for individuals accused of crimes against the state—yet they’re few and far between. For decades, the Iranian government has been working to eliminate independent lawyers through various tactics, including harassment and imprisonment. “What the state is trying to do to lawyers is shameful,” Amirsalar Davoudi, a defense attorney who knows this story all too well, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

Back in June 2019, the same year Davoudi was granted the Human Rights Award by the Council of Bars and Law Societies Of Europe, he was sentenced to 111 lashes and 30 years in prison, of which he must serve 15 years. The sentence was for the charge of forming “an illegal group”—a news channel for lawyers on the Telegram messaging app. Davoudi was imprisoned until recently, when he was allowed to go home on furlough (temporary leave), which could end at any time.

Davoudi is but one of many human rights lawyers who have been harassed, threatened, suspended or banned from work, arrested, and unjustly imprisoned by the authorities in Iran. Despite the constant threat of re-imprisonment hanging over his head, he remains committed to defending and promoting human and civil rights in his country: “We must convey human rights principles to society in the shortest possible time and when people become aware, then society itself will step into action.”


CHRI: What are the characteristics of a human rights lawyer in Iran?

Davoudi: Ever since human rights became a primary topic in foreign policy matters of the Islamic Republic of Iran… there has never been an organized and logical approach to dealing with human rights issues. Whatever that has been accomplished amounts to personal experiences of individuals who are active in this field.

Of course, in the early 2010s, for the first time Iranian universities added human rights to their curriculum as a separate branch in legal studies. These schools include Shahid Beheshti, Allameh Tabataba’i, and Tehran universities. But like all new subjects in Iranian universities, it will take time for it to take root and form connections in society.

That aside, the ruling establishment continues to resist demands for human rights, especially when it regards them as part of the Western paradigm. As an ideological state, the Islamic Republic considers itself as the guardian of new, positive, and practical ideas on human rights. So, there is this friction between the official view on human rights and international principles.

[…]

https://iranhr.net/en/articles/4831/

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

UK: Help Afghan lawyers escape ‘perilous future’ under Taliban rule, urge legal groups

17/08/21

A group of professional legal bodies have urged the UK government to help lawyers trapped in Afghanistan.

In a joint statement, the Law Society, Bar Council and Bar Human Rights Committee call on the government to offer asylum to female judges and other legal professionals in Afghanistan.

They are “gravely concerned” about the situation in Afghanistan and the fate of all those working in the country’s justice system who now face “a perilous future” under Taliban rule.

“We are extremely worried about the situation of at least 250 women judges in the country who we consider to be at particular risk,” the group said. “We urge the UK government not to abandon these courageous defenders of the rule of law and — in liaison with its international allies — to offer evacuation and safety and asylum in the UK to those women judges, their families, and other members of the legal profession who are in serious danger.”

The International Association of Women Judges yesterday raised concerns about their colleagues in Afghanistan, “given the special role they have played and are still playing, in upholding the rule of law and human rights for all, and the particular dangers they face as a result”. The group fear for their safety due to the nature of their work and the past rulings they have made in criminal, anti-corruption and family courts.

[…]

https://www.cba.org/News-Media/Press-Releases/2021/August/Statement-by-CBA-President-on-the-Situation-in-Afg?lang=en-ca

https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/29051

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/08/afghanistan-dispatches-i-personally-think-law-major-is-no-more-a-field-of-study-for-students-particularly-women/

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-merkel-warns-western-countries-must-offer-aid-to-afghans-fleeing/

https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/103053/afghanistan-joint-statement-international-community-latest-developments_en

https://www.avocatparis.org/afghanistan-le-barreau-de-paris-appelle-levacuation-des-civils-risque-pour-garantir-leur-protection (FRANCAIS)

https://www.cba.org/News-Media/Press-Releases/2021/August/Statement-by-CBA-President-on-the-Situation-in-Afg?lang=fr-ca

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Human rights lawyers in China say spaces for activism are shrinking as they mark the sixth anniversary of the 709 crackdown

09/07/21

Friday marks the sixth anniversary of the “709 crackdown,” but some of the human rights lawyers that were arrested back then were still serving jail sentences. Additionally, while many of them have been released, the government has revoked their licenses, which makes it hard for some of them to raise their families.

While many human rights lawyers arrested during the “709 crackdown” have been released six years after the mass arrest, Yu Wen-sheng, who was the defense lawyer for several of them in 2015, is still serving his jail sentence at the Nanjing prison.

According to his wife Xu Yan, he has multiple health problems, including trembling and powerlessness in his right arm, which causes him to lose the ability to write, brush his teeth or pick dishes with chopsticks with his right arm. Additionally, he also suffers from high blood pressure, spine issues and kidney stones.

“In fact, his health condition isn’t really good and usually, he would already qualify for compassionate release, but the prison hasn’t approved my application for almost a year,” she said.

Xu said even though she continues to demand the prison to take Yu Wen-sheng to doctors for treatment, authorities at the prison have only taken him to the doctor twice in more than three years.

“He’s only been to the doctors twice in more than three years and the authorities still haven’t allowed him to get dental implant surgeries for the four teeth that he has lost,” she said. “If he fails to get dental implants for too long, it will start affecting his ability to eat food and other teeth nearby might start to get looses too.”

When the Chinese government initiated the “709 crackdown” six years ago, they arrested and detained hundreds of human rights lawyers, activists and their family members across 23 provinces in China. Yu Wen-sheng became the first lawyer to openly sue the government for the mass arrest on July 30.

[…]

https://williamyang-35700.medium.com/human-rights-lawyers-in-china-say-spaces-for-activism-are-shrinking-as-they-mark-the-sixth-637201f1e026

https://www.chrlawyers.hk/zh-hans/node/1690

https://www.nycbar.org/media-listing/media/detail/709-crackdown-on-lawyers-and-human-rights-advocates-sixth-anniversary

https://www.lawsociety.ie/gazette/top-stories/lawyers-in-china-must-endorse-socialism-to-practise-law/

https://thediplomat.com/2021/07/chinas-709-crackdown-is-still-going-on/

http://www.jeromecohen.net/jerrys-blog/2021/7/10/remembering-709-confronting-today-and-tomorrow

https://www.ibanet.org/China-statement-on-the-sixth-anniversary-of-the-709-Crackdown

https://www.dw.com/zh/709%E5%A4%A7%E6%8A%93%E6%8D%95%E5%85%AD%E5%91%A8%E5%B9%B4-%E7%BB%B4%E6%9D%83%E5%BE%8B%E5%B8%88%E7%94%9F%E5%AD%98%E4%B9%8B%E8%B7%AF%E8%A2%AB%E5%A0%B5%E6%AD%BB/a-58212501 (CHINESE)

(FRANCAIS)
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The Philippines: 61 legal practitioners killed since 2016, zero convictions – lawyers’ group

10/03/21

International Association of People's Lawyers | IAPL Monitoring Committee  on Attacks on Lawyers

Sixty-one lawyers, judges, and prosecutors have been killed under the Duterte administration, according to an independent tally released by the Free Legal Assistance Group on Wednesday.

The lawyers’ group said 43% or 26 of these killings are “deemed work-related,” or connected to the victims’ legal practice. The crimes happened between July 2016 and January 2021, based on news reports and monitoring of the Lawyers Rights’ Watch Canada.

“The fact that almost half of the killings were due to work-related or possibly work-related motives is an indicator of the growing danger of practicing the legal profession in the country,” FLAG said in its report. “This, along with the fact that no one has been arrested in 73% of the killings, are indications that the government has failed to fulfill its obligation to adequately safeguard lawyers who are threatened as a result of discharging their functions.”

Fifteen of the killings are considered drug-related since the victims either represented accused drug personalities, or were implicated in the illegal drug trade themselves. The rest of the 27 incidents were believed to involve personal motives, such as debts or robbery, and other unknown reasons.

FLAG also provided a breakdown of the victims – 32 were into private legal practice, 21 were incumbent public officials, eight were former or retired public officials, and four were public interest lawyers.

[…]

https://cnnphilippines.com/news/2021/3/10/lawyers-killed-duterte-administration.html

https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/03/11/21/61-lawyers-killed-since-duterte-assumed-office-in-2016-says-group

https://www.onenews.ph/lawyers-ask-sc-to-intervene-as-more-than-50-colleagues-have-been-killed

https://www.rappler.com/nation/half-lawyer-killings-since-2016-work-related-flag

https://www.onenews.ph/lawyers-ask-sc-to-intervene-as-more-than-50-colleagues-have-been-killed

SC urged to intervene attacks vs counsels, petitioners of anti-terrorism law

https://www.rappler.com/nation/opposition-lawmakers-seek-house-probe-attack-lawyer-iloilo

https://international.thenewslens.com/article/148284

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/10/un-urges-probe-into-killings-of-philippine-activists

https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2021/03/11/2083455/killing-spree-adding-misery-pandemic

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

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/03/10/philippines-killings-highlight-need-international-action

N.B.: COMMENT BY GILL BOEHRINGER:

The actual figure is 63. Anyone who wishes to see the list prepared by the International Association of People’s Lawyers can obtain it from me as I was the lead researcher. There is not only a problem of long delays in dealing with murderous attacks on lawyers through the courts, but many of the cases never get to the courts. For example, police were apparently involved in two lawyer killings, according to CCTV and witness testimony, but the prosecution dismissed the charges against them on the usual ground “insufficient evidence”.

A simple examination of cases in the courts will not reveal the way in which impunity works and therefore who is doing the killings. there is no doubt that state forces-police and military-are significantly involved. There should be an independent investigation of the system of dealing with these murderous attacks on the rule of law and therefore democracy itself.

LAWYERS IN DANGER: THREATS TO ADVOCATES WORLDWIDE

10/11/20

Lawyers in Danger: Threats to Advocates Worldwide | The Advocate, November 2020

The independence and safety of lawyers are increasingly threatened around the world. Lawyers in too many countries are vilified, criminalized, imprisoned, threatened, attacked, or murdered simply for doing their lawful work of upholding their clients’ rights. In 2020, volunteers from Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) are monitoring the situations of lawyers and other human rights defenders (defenders) in dozens of countries.

Countries of major concern to LRWC in 2020 are China, Turkey, the Philippines, Colombia, and Saudi Arabia. This year, LRWC volunteers have raised concerns about lawyers and defenders in these and other countries, including at the UN Human Rights Council.[2] LRWC is also monitoring situations of lawyers in many other countries, including challenges to international human rights in North America.

LRWC increasingly engages with the UN human rights system through its UN consultative status received in 2005. LRWC also publishes numerous reports and manuals,[3] including a 2020 book, Attacking Defenders: The Criminalization of Human Rights Advocacy.[4] LRWC, a volunteer-run organization, is launching a drive for memberships of Canadian lawyers to secure independent financial support for LRWC’s work to meet the growing demand for LRWC experience developed over two decades.

INDEPENDENCE AND SAFETY OF LAWYERS UNDER THREAT: EXAMPLES

China: Lawyers and defenders arrested, disappeared, and tortured

China claims to uphold the “rule of law,” but its aggressive promotion of “human rights with Chinese characteristics” fails to conceal egregious and systematic human rights abuses, including surveillance, harassment, criminalization, enforced disappearance, unlawful detention, and torture of dissidents, ethnic and religious minorities, activists, and lawyers.[5] The litany of violations includes disturbing allegations of mass atrocities.

[…]

Day of the Endangered Lawyer – January 24th

https://the-advocate.ca/emag/issues/2020/november/page_68.html

Turkey: International Law Obligations to Release ÇHD Lawyers | Letter

October 23, 2019

We write on behalf of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), a committee of lawyers and human rights defenders who promote international human rights, the independence and security of human rights defenders, the integrity of legal systems and the rule of law through advocacy, education and legal research. LRWC has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

LRWC has written in the past with respect to various Turkish lawyers and human rights defenders who have been detained, arrested, charged, and/or imprisoned in violation of Turkey’s international human rights law obligations and Turkey’s own Constitution. Communications to the Government of Turkey have been made by LRWC regarding the cases of: Nurullah Albayrak, Eren Keskin, Selçuk Kozağaçlı, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Ramazan Demir, Mustafa Aydin, Can Tombul, Taner Kilic and numerous other Turkish lawyers. LRWC has also made oral and written statements to the UN Human Rights Council and submissions to the UN Human Rights Council and Special Procedures regarding widespread persecution of lawyers, journalists and other human rights defenders through prosecutions, convictions, arbitrary detentions and other grave human rights abuses in violation of international law.

LRWC has just been advised that on 16 October 2019 the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice 2nd Penal Chamber (Court of Appeals) has rejected the appeals and confirmed the sentences imposed in March 2019 by the Istanbul 37th Heavy Penal Court on lawyers who are members of the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD). The convictions and sentences are contrary to international human rights law, contrary to Turkey’s constitution, and contrary to basic principles of fairness and justice. The alleged crimes that underlie these convictions would not be considered crimes in any country governed by the rule of law.  We urge you to intervene to ensure the release of those sentenced and the vacation and nullification of the convictions and sentences imposed.

An international delegation of lawyers who observed the March 2019 court proceedings that imposed the convictions and sentences, concluded that the, “trial is completely null and void” and called for, “the immediate acquittal of all defendants, to be attained through all possible judicial and legal means.”[1]

Background of this Case

This case involves the sentencing of 20 ÇHD lawyers.  The six lawyers, sentenced to less than five years in prison do not have the right to any further appeal. ÇHD lawyers sentenced to more than five years in prison, have a right to appeal to Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeal.

Turkey: International Law Obligations to Release ÇHD Lawyers | Letter

http://bianet.org/english/law/214528-court-of-appeals-upholds-159-year-prison-term-for-contemporary-lawyers-association-members

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/selcuk-kozagacli-detained

https://www.lawtimesnews.com/news/general/lawyers-rights-watch-canada-calls-for-release-of-convicted-lawyers-in-turkey/321265

https://www.gercekgundem.com/guncel/126431/istinaf-mahkemesinden-selcuk-kozagacli-ve-chd-avukatlari-hakkinda-karar (TURKCE)

http://www.yeniyasamgazetesi1.com/chd-ve-hhbli-avukatlara-verilen-hapis-cezasi-onandi/ (TURKCE)

https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/gundem/2019/10/19/ege-insan-haklari-okulu-calistayinda-ikinci-gun-sona-erdi/ (TURKCE)