Tag Archives: Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

Turkey: International law obligations to release lawyer Eren Keskin

April 5, 2019

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Re: International law obligations to release lawyer Eren Keskin

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 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey. Communications to the Government of Turkey have been made by LRWC regarding the cases of: Selçuk Kozağaçlı, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Ramazan Demir, Erin Keskin, Mustafa Aydin, Can Tombul, Taner Kilic and other members of the Turkish legal profession. LRWC has also made oral and written statements to the UN Human Rights Council and submissions to the UN Human Rights Committee and Special Procedures regarding widespread persecution of lawyers, journalists and other human rights defenders through wrongful prosecutions and convictions, arbitrary detention and other grave rights violations.

LRWC is once again gravely concerned regarding the continuing and unjust persecution of lawyer Eren Keskin. Ms. Keskin has been convicted on criminal charges that are illegitimate and unfounded and faces numerous other charges that are equally baseless but could result in lengthy consecutive prison sentences that could keep Ms. Keskin incarcerated for life.

Background of Ms. Keskin

Ms. Keskin, 59 years of age, is a lawyer and vice-president of the Human Rights Association in Turkey (İHD) and the co-founder of the Legal Aid For Women Who Were Raped Or Otherwise Sexually Abused by National Security Forces. She has been a strong advocate for fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey, especially for the Kurds, women and the LGBTQ community. As a human rights advocate for almost thirty years, Ms Keskin has contributed to the protection of minority rights, countered violence against women, campaigned to end torture and challenged militarism.

Ms. Keskin is an internationally recognized human rights defender.

https://www.lrwc.org/turkey-international-law-obligations-to-release-lawyer-eren-keskin/

http://bianet.org/english/freedom-of-expression/207317-verdict-of-release-for-grant-holder-of-newspaper-kemal-sancili?bia_source=rss

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

https://anfnewstv.com/keskin-dunyayi-direnenler-degistirir/ (TURKCE)

https://alevinet.com/2019/04/10/keskin-dunyayi-direnenler-degistirir/ (TURKCE)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eren_Keskin (FRANCAIS)

http://www.schattenblick.de/infopool/buerger/amnesty/baak1906.html (DEUTSCH)

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eren_Keskin (DEUTSCH)

N.B.: Eren Keskin stands trial, yet again, on April 10, 2019.

 

Saudi Arabia: Nomination of Waleed Abu al-Khair for the 2019 ABA International Human Rights Award | Joint Letter

March 29, 2019

Waleed Abu al-Khair, unlawfully imprisoned for his work as a human  rights lawyer since 15 April 2014, has been nominated for the 2019
American Bar Association Human Rights Award jointly by LRWC, Lawyers for  Lawyers, Union Internationale des Avocats and the Law Society of England  and Wales.

JOINT NOMINATION LETTER

In accordance with the request of the American Bar Association (ABA) for nominees for the 2019 ABA International Human Rights Award, the following organizations —Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), the Law Society of England and Wales (LSEW) and the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA) —recommend and nominate human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair of Saudi Arabia for the 2019 ABA International Human Rights Award.

Waleed Abu al-Khair is one of the best-known advocates for democratic and human rights reform in Saudi Arabia.  He has used the written and spoken word coupled with his legal knowledge to fearlessly advocate for reforms to improve the lives of all in Saudi Arabia by calling on the Government of Saudi Arabia to allow its citizens to enjoy internationally protected rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and the right to participate directly and indirectly in public affairs.  He has done this work through writing and public speaking, by representing causes and clients unpopular with the Government of Saudi Arabia, by providing a safe space for peaceful discussion of issues of public concern and by providing people with an example of responsible advocacy for justice for all.  At the risk of his own personal and professional safety and security, Waleed Abu al-Khair persisted in using his training and skills as a lawyer to be an outspoken advocate for an elected parliament, an independent judiciary, a constitutional monarchy and recognition of internationally protected human rights. He has also advocated on behalf of prisoners of conscience and written many articles identifying human rights abuses and the need for legal reform. He recommended reliance on the rule of law and proper legal procedures to effect reform and settle disputes and differences of opinion and never advocated or used violence as a means of opposition.

https://www.lrwc.org/saudi-arabia-nomination-of-waleed-abu-al-khair-for-the-2019-aba-international-human-rights-award-joint-letter/

https://www.lrwc.org/saudi-arabia-waleed-abu-al-khair-update-wgad/

https://www.lrwc.org/saudi-arabia-arbitrary-detention-of-samar-badawi-working-paper/

https://www.ifex.org/saudi_arabia/2019/03/25/al-qahtani-mistreatment/

https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/434752-senate-dems-petition-saudi-king-to-release-dissidents-us-citizen

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

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abu_al-Khair (FRANCAIS)

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Colombia: Protective Measures for Human Rights Lawyer Adil Meléndez | Letter

March 14, 2019

Pablo Elías González Monguí
Director, Unidad Nacional de Protección
Carrera 63 # 14 – 97
Puente Aranda
Bogotá D.C. 111611
Colombia

Dear Mr González Monguí

Re: Protective measures for human rights lawyer Adil Meléndez

I write on behalf of the Colombian Caravana (hereafter the ‘Caravana’), a UK registered charity that co-organises the International Caravana of Jurists, and the Foundation of the Spanish National Bar Association, the International Observatory of Lawyers, Lawyers for Lawyers and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada.

During biennial visits to Colombia since 2008, including during the International Caravana of Jurists most recent visit in September 2018, we have called upon the Colombian government to protect the ability of lawyers and human rights defenders to represent their clients, and to refrain from any interferences in their work, in order to comply with both Colombian and international law.

The aforementioned organisations are concerned that in December 2018 Adil Melendez’s bullet proof car was withdrawn by the National Protection Unit (UNP) and instead he was provided with a standard car. Mr Melendez had been provided with an armoured car in recognition of the acute risk he faces as a human rights lawyer; we understand that this acute risk has not diminished.

We were further alarmed when Mr Melendez informed us that one of his two bodyguards, also assigned to him by the UNP, has not provided protection to him since 25 February 2019, when both bodyguards failed to arrive for work. We are informed that the other bodyguard has resumed his work only in the last few days. In effect, for over a week, Mr Melendez has been left without the protection measures granted to him by the UNP and can currently rely on one bodyguard only.

The Caravana works closely with Mr Melendez and has met with him on several occasions, including during our last visit to Colombia, in September 2018. His work is vital to advancing justice and protecting human rights in Colombia, particularly in the Caribbean region. It is understood that he is targeted and threatened as result of his work.

https://www.lrwc.org/colombia-protective-measures-for-human-rights-lawyer-adil-melendez-letter/?fbclid=IwAR3CpMWOrYQBy9kwPkDEwt1B5G3L_FZOyPfQI_M3KUNKshIArKlHcW_W79Q

https://lawyersforlawyers.org/en/lawyers/adil-jose-melendez-marquez/

https://www.elheraldo.co/atlantico/jorge-luis-alfonso-lopez-se-reune-con-victimas-en-la-carcel-de-sabanalarga-573998 (ESPANOL)

Saudi Arabia: Nomination of Waleed Abu Al-khair for the Lawyers for Lawyers Human Rights Award 2019

March 3, 2019

Nomination for the Lawyers for Lawyers Human Rights Award 2019
Nominee: Waleed Abu al-Khair of Saudi Arabia
Nominator: Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
References: Daniel N. Arshak and Tony Fisher

Summary of Work of Nominee
Waleed Abu al-Khair, until silenced, was the most prominent advocate for democratic and human rights reform in Saudi Arabia. Founder of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, he used the written and spoken word coupled with legal knowledge to fearlessly advocate for reforms to improve the lives of all by calling on Saudi Arabia to allow its citizens to enjoy internationally protected rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and the right to participate directly and indirectly in public affairs. He did this work through writing and public speaking, by providing a safe space for peaceful discussion of issues of public concern and by providing an example of responsible advocacy for justice for all. He represented activists and reformists and advocated for prisoners of conscience. He used his training and skills as a lawyer to advocate for an elected parliament, an independent judiciary, a constitutional monarchy and recognition of internationally protected human rights. He wrote many articles identifying human rights abuses and the need for legal reform, always recommending reliance on the rule of law and proper legal procedures to promote reform and settle disputes and differences of opinion. He never used or advocated violence as a means of opposition or a tool of reform. Waleed Abu al-Khair’s self-less and peaceful advocacy has been recognized by these awards: the Olof Palme Prize (2012), the XXth Ludovic-Trarieux Human Rights International Prize (2015), the Law Society of Ontario Human Rights Award (2017), and the Right Livelihood Award (2018).

Risks experienced by the Nominee
In reprisal for lawful advocacy Saudi Arabia banned Waleed Abu al-Khair from travel (1.04.12) and (2013) prosecuted him. When these charges resulted in a 3-month sentence,  Saudi Arabia re-charged him with similar offenses this time under the Penal Law for Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing to be determined by the Specialized Criminal Court (SCCt).He was arrested (15/04/14) without cause or warrant while before the SCCt.

https://www.lrwc.org/saudi-arabia-nomination-of-waleed-abu-al-khair-for-the-lawyers-for-lawyers-human-rights-award-2019/?fbclid=IwAR20dArM-YSo13spc0oPGacdxWOSUxPpjHwyPGqZC6q37MxsDj0njgAXnt8

https://lawyersforlawyers.org/en/save-the-date-presentation-l4l-award-2019/

https://lawyersforlawyers.org/en/about-us/lawyers-for-lawyers-awards/

https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/434752-senate-dems-petition-saudi-king-to-release-dissidents-us-citizen

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

https://libnanews.com/madaniya-lobby-pro-saoudien-usa-1/ (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abu_al-Khair (FRANCAIS)

Zimbabwe: Acts of intimidation against Mr. Okay Machisa, Ms. Beatrice Mtetwa and Pastor Evan Magwarire | Letter

February 1, 2019

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), a committee of lawyers and other human rights defenders, that promotes compliance with international human rights, the integrity of legal systems and the rule of law through advocacy, legal research and education. LRWC has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

LRWC objects to Zimbabwe’s failure to respect and protect its citizens’ rights as exemplified by the increasing number of citizens who have been arrested and are facing prosecution for participating in peaceful protests. Also of concern are the numbers of lawyers and human rights defenders who have been threatened, arbitrarily detained and arrested in apparent retaliation for exercising their constitutional rights.

The right to freedom of assembly is a fundamental human right and is guaranteed in section 58 of Zimbabwe’s constitution. Furthermore, section 67 guarantees every citizen the right to political participation to engage in peaceful activities to influence, challenge or support the policies of the government. LRWC encourages you to respect these same rights as a signatory to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Recent incidents include the acts of intimidation against Mr. Okay Machisa, National Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) along with his family, and many other ZimRights lawyers. Also of concern is the recent arbitrary arrest and detention of Pastor Evan Magwarire on 16 January 2019, who is facing charges of “subverting a constitutional government” and is scheduled for a bail hearing on 29 January 2019. LRWC is also gravely concerned by the recently revealed attempted deportation of Beatrice Mtetwa, a prominent human rights lawyer, to her country of birth Swaziland during the 2013 harmonized election campaign, reports of rapes of women by Zimbawean security forces, the arrests and arbitrary detention of many Zimbabwe citizens and children as young as eleven years old, and the surveillance and intimidation of human rights defenders both within and outside Zimbabwe on their alleged involvement in the protest.

https://www.lrwc.org/zimbabwe-acts-of-intimidation-against-mr-okay-machisa-ms-beatrice-mtetwa-and-pastor-evan-magwarire-letter/

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/zimbabwe-intimidation-of-okay-machisa-and-other-members-of-zimrights

https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-153364.html

http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/zimbabwe/2019/02/d25225/

https://citizen.co.za/news/news-africa/2074878/us-lawyers-concerned-over-zim-legal-system/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/lawyers-march-in-zimbabwe-capital-alleging-denial-of-justice/2019/01/29/68d33b7c-23cb-11e9-b5b4-1d18dfb7b084_story.html?utm_term=.3943eccafbda

https://mg.co.za/article/2019-01-23-systematic-torture-killings-abductions-assaults-zim-rights-commission-speaks-out

https://www.newsday.co.zw/2019/02/un-condemns-zim-rights-abuses/

http://www.ludovictrarieux.org/uk-index.htm

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

https://www.voaafrique.com/a/les-avocats-du-zimbabwe-reclament-justice-pour-les-manifestants-emprisonn%C3%A9s/4763583.html (FRANCAIS)

https://www.fidh.org/fr/regions/afrique/zimbabwe/zimbabwe-la-repression-des-manifestations-pacifiques-doit-cesser-les (FRANCAIS)

http://www.ludovictrarieux.org/ (FRANCAIS)

Canada/Turkey: Lawyers in Turkey Under Attack Seminar | Event (Vancouver)

January 16, 2019

LAWYERS IN TURKEY UNDER ATTACK

Held on January 24th each year since 2010, the Day of the Endangered Lawyer provides an opportunity to learn about the personal and professional safety of lawyers in a selected country facing persecution, prosecution, arbitrary detention, threats, torture, assaults and death as a consequence of carrying out their professional duties. The focus this year is on lawyers in Turkey. Between July 2016 and 1 January 2019 alone there have been 594 lawyers arrested, 1546 prosecuted and 216 sentenced to a total of 1,361 years in prison.


Join us at the UBC Allard School of Law and learn what you can do to assist

Date: January 24
Time: 12:30 to 2:00 pm
Location: UBC Faculty of Law, Allard Hall, Room 104

Sponsored by Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC)

Presentations by Brian Samuels Q.C., Ozge Yazar and Mehmet Kilic will be followed by Q & A

  • Brian Samuels Q.C. Vancouver-based barrister, LRWC Director and Turkey Monitor;
  • Mehmet Kilic, President of the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF), Director of the Center for Global Affairs at Peace Islands Institute, and PHD candidate at Walden University;
  • Ozge Yazar, Third year student at Allard School of Law, B.A. from Bogazici University.

https://www.lrwc.org/lawyers-in-turkey-under-attack-seminar-event/

http://allard.ubc.ca/

basic-report_turkey2019

https://eldh.eu/en/2018/11/22/day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-2019/

Updated Report: Incarceration of Turkish Lawyers | Unjust Arrests and Convictions (2016-2018)

https://www.euronews.com/2019/01/18/turkey-sentences-detained-judge-who-won-human-rights-award-to-10-years-anadolu-says

#DayoftheEndangeredLawyer

#EndangeredLawyers

#24OcakTehlikedekiAvukatlarGünü

#24thJanuaryEndangeredLawyersDay

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Vietnam: UPR of Vietnam: Advocacy Charter Lawyers for Lawyers and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

December 22, 2018

Stakeholders’ submission

(1) In the last years, the crackdown on freedom of expression has intensified. Reports indicate that in 2017, Viet Nam authorities have detained or exiled many peaceful activists and bloggers. Human rights lawyers who work on sensitive cases frequently face reprisals either in relation to their own human rights advocacy or their legal representation of people seen as critical of the Government. They are subjected to, amongst other things, threats, harassment and intimidation. Some lawyers have been the victim of physical attacks in connection to their legitimate advocacy. See Joint submission (JI) L4L & LRWC, par.10

A number of lawyers in Viet Nam have even been subjected to arrests and prosecution in connection to their professional activities or in relation to their human rights advocacy. See JI L4L & LRWC, par.11

(2) Governments must protect lawyers from unfair or arbitrary disciplinary proceedings. Disciplinary action against lawyers must be based solely on a code of professional conduct consistent with recognized ethical and professional standards including the Basic Principles and determined by an independent tribunal after a fair hearing conducted in accordance with international due process requirements. Before the UPR review of Viet Nam in 2014, several leading human rights lawyers had been disbarred, including lawyers Le Cong Dinh, Nguyen Van Dai, and Le Quoc Quan. More recently, other lawyers have been disbarred or are facing disbarment or other disciplinary actions on improper grounds. See JI L4L & LRWC, par.12

https://www.lrwc.org/upr-of-vietnam-advocacy-charter-lawyers-for-lawyers-and-lawyers-rights-watch-canada/

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2018/12/11/weighing-up-political-developments-in-vietnam/

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/digital-dictatorship-vietnam-seeks-silence-dissidents-181115062123198.html

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

https://www.ucanews.com/news/catholic-dissident-jailed-for-defacing-vietnam-flags/84006

https://www.dw.com/en/vietnam-expels-dissident-lawyer-to-germany/a-44121266

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nguy%E1%BB%85n_V%C4%83n_%C4%90%C3%A0i

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/06/germany-accuses-vietnam-of-abducting-businessman-from-berlin

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