Tag Archives: New Zealand

Afghanistan: Bolch Prize to be awarded to International Association of Women Judges


The Bolch Judicial Institute has named the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) as the 2023 recipient of the Bolch Prize for the Rule of Law in recognition of the organization’s remarkable efforts to evacuate, support, and resettle Afghan women judges who, because of their gender and work as judges, have faced persecution and violence since the Taliban took control of the country in late 2021.

The IAWJ will be honored during a ceremony at Duke University on March 1, 2023.

Under the leadership of New Zealand Supreme Court Justice Susan Glazebrook, president of the IAWJ and the association’s Afghan Support Committee, the IAWJ mobilized member judges from around the world to assist Afghan women judges in the days leading up to and the months following the collapse of Afghanistan’s democracy in August 2021. Recognizing the particular dangers Afghanistan’s women judges face under Taliban rule, IAWJ members have worked — and continue to work — tirelessly to secure safe passage out of the country for the judges and their families and assist them in obtaining visas and relocating to countries where they can rebuild their lives and careers.

“The IAWJ has led an extraordinary rescue operation, bringing more than 100 Afghan women judges and many of their families to safety and continuing efforts to assist those who remain,” said David F. Levi, director of the Bolch Judicial Institute. “The Bolch Prize for the Rule of Law recognizes both the heroism of the IAWJ’s efforts to assist Afghanistan’s women judges and the organization’s long history of supporting and advancing women judges and addressing gender inequities in judicial and justice systems around the world. And in honoring the IAWJ, we also honor the incredible courage of Afghanistan’s women judges, who broke barriers and risked personal safety to try to build a better future for their country and now call on the international community for help as they work to rebuild their lives.”

“The IAWJ has worked for decades to surmount the numerous obstacles women judges face around the world,” said Kerry Abrams, dean of Duke Law School. “From gender-based discrimination and legal structures that subjugate women to professional hierarchies that force women into limited roles, women in judicial positions face many barriers, in all corners of the world. Through mentoring, partnerships, educational opportunities, and global outreach, the IAWJ created a network of members around the world who have worked together to address common challenges, to support one another in overcoming barriers, and to strengthen the rule of law. That network also put the IAWJ in an unparalleled position to provide on-the-ground help to Afghan women judges when they suddenly needed to flee their collapsing country.”





New Zealand refuses asylum for Russian legal academic


New Zealand has refused to grant asylum to a human rights lawyer and academic who spoke out about election fixing in Russia.

The woman and her two children fear being killed or seriously harmed in Russia by police or state security services after reporting the electoral fraud and because of her involvement in supporting opposition to the Russian government.

They claimed refugee status, but have been told their risk of harm is no more than “remote and speculative”.

The 53-year-old, who was a lawyer specialising in civil law and human rights, had worked as a senior university law lecturer and later associate professor, but was forced to resign after she publicised her concerns about voting irregularities.

She was a volunteer monitor at a 2016 election held to elect candidates for the forthcoming state parliamentary elections.

Her 27-year-old son was an observer at a different polling station and saw a large bundle of votes stuffed into a ballot box by an election official. About 400 people had come through the school hall doors to vote, but more than 1200 ballot papers were later counted.

She sent a report to the election supervising committee and she and her son attended a press conference held by a journalist and former parliamentarian at which she confirmed voting irregularities.

She later spoke about it at an academic conference hosted by a government ministry and wrote an article for an academic journal.

The family arrived in New Zealand three years later, with the woman saying the political situation in Russia and silencing of dissenting voices and opinions had worsened. She was concerned her posts, blogs and appearances at protests would lead to consequences for her family if they returned to Russia.







It’s been almost six months since the United States packed up and pulled out of Afghanistan, ending the longest war in American history and sending thousands of Afghans into hiding. The Taliban, rebranded as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, initially promised amnesty and understanding to those who had opposed the terror group for more than 20 years.

But as many had feared, the Taliban lied.

A United Nations report released this week and seen by several news organizations claims approximately 100 former Afghan military members and government officials have been killed since the Taliban took over, at least two-thirds of them directly by the Taliban or their affiliates. That figure seemed improbable to one woman reached by Coffee or Die Magazine who is currently hiding in Afghanistan from Taliban retaliation. And it rang “unrealistically low” to a Marine Corps veteran in Mississippi who spends his free hours desperately trying to coordinate the rescue of people still in the country.

In a tweet, an account linked to the Taliban Ministry of Interior Affairs said the government “has not killed anyone since the amnesty.”

Aysha, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, is a 26-year-old human rights activist in Afghanistan who has spent the last five months hiding in fear for her life. She moves from one safe house to the next every few weeks, a shell-game tactic used to avoid the Taliban’s door-to-door searches.

“They are killing soldiers, activists and lawyers in the cities, villages and surrounding areas by [calling them] thieves, or removing them from their homes to unknown places,” Aysha told Coffee or Die. “No trace of them is left.” 


“The Taliban are actively persecuting those who either worked against the Taliban movement with the government or those who spoke out against the Taliban movement while they were conducting their insurgency,” Espinal said. “Two weeks ago we had an incident where one of the judges left the compound and the Taliban controlling that district recognized [him]. And [he] and his wife were beat in front of the family pretty much and they were taken away to an unknown prison. Luckily for them, they were one of the few that were released.”









https://www.sudouest.fr/justice/bordeaux-une-avocate-afghane-accueillie-le-coeur-ouvert-par-ses-confreres-8135235.php (FRANCAIS)


New Zealand: Charges against civil liberties lawyer dismissed after judge unable to decide whose case was stronger


Michael Bott found himself facing off against police on an issue he had been commenting about publicly.

Civil liberties lawyer Michael Bott​ hadn’t been home long, relaxing on his couch with a glass of wine when he realised there were police officers in his driveway.

They were looking at his car.

As a lawyer Bott is very aware of the rights involved when police turn up at your home unexpectedly. In fact only about three weeks before, he had given a media interview about just that topic.

So he opened the door and was told that they had a complaint about his driving and he had hit a median barrier on State Highway 2 not long before.

Bott knew he hadn’t. And let them see the car and that there was no damage to it.

One officer wanted to call their informant to clarify matters, but Bott says he then asked them to leave.

All police have an implied licence to investigate and to enter a property if they are in pursuit of a possible criminal. But unless they are chasing someone they have to leave if asked.

Bott then went back inside.

Which would have been the end of it except the police didn’t leave.

Bott ended up arrested after police say they asked him to do a breath test, which he refused, so they took him to a station. He was later charged with refusing to accompany police on August 2, 2019 and refusing to give a blood sample. He pleaded not guilty to both.

More than two years later he finally got to a court hearing about what happened on his property that night.



‘Climate of fear’ prevails for human rights defenders in Afghanistan


In addition to a prolonged drought and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Afghanistan is contending with the upheaval caused by the current political transition.

Human rights defenders in Afghanistan report that they are now enduring a “climate of fear”, threats, and becoming increasingly desperate over conditions in the country, an independent UN expert said on Wednesday.  

Stating that “the threat is very real”, Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, called for an urgent coordinated response from the international community. 

“Defenders tell me of direct threats, including gendered threats against women, of beatings, arrests, enforced disappearances, and of defenders being killed. They describe living in a climate of constant fear”, she said

Those most at risk are people documenting alleged war crimes, women, in particular criminal lawyers, cultural rights defenders, especially those working in banned sectors such as musical performance, and others from minority groups. 

Some told Mrs. Lawlor that they have erased their online data history to evade identification, and that the Taliban are using other ways to find them. One of them, for example, was identified by an injury to his leg. 

Urgent action 

According to her, the Taliban have raided offices of human rights and civil society organisations, searching for names, addresses and contacts.  

“Many defenders are well known in their local communities, in particular in rural areas, and have left for the anonymity of the cities, but even there, they are forced to constantly change locations,” the UN expert said. “Most have also lost their source of income, further limiting their options to find safety.” 

Mrs. Lawlor called for immediate international support, including an urgent plan for the evacuation of those at high risk, along with their families. 











Pakistan/Day of the Endangered Lawyer: DAY OF THE ENDANGERED LAWYER – 24 January 2020 – PAKISTAN

Preparations are now well underway for the Day of the Endangered Lawyer (DOTEL) on Pakistan for January 24, 2020. At a preparatory meeting about 16 to 20 participants representing the Foundation of the Endangered Lawyers Day, AED, International Association of Peoples Lawyers, ELDH, CCBE, CBE, Institut des Droit de l’Homme, several Bar Associations, Avocats sans frontiers, Law Society, CNB have decided to dedicate the Day of the Endangered Lawyer to the solidarity with endangered lawyers in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, since our Brussels meeting our Pakistani colleagues continue to face chronic danger and a risk of serious harm.  They continue to be subjected to acts of violence, and very recently a lawyer was seriously assaulted by a judge during a trial, which led to a local strike („Black Day“) of lawyers lasting at least a week: https://defendlawyers.wordpress.com/2019/07/10/pakistan-day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-lawyers-strike-continues-for-sixth-consecutive-day/   At the national level there have been a number of strikes by lawyers, especially in solidarity with two judges who have been under attack by Pakistan President Arif Alvi.  The latest national strike organized by the Pakistan Bar Council was held on July 13th:   https://defendlawyers.wordpress.com/2019/07/10/pakistan-day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-pbc-gives-call-for-countrywide-strike-on-july-13/  Invidual lawyers, like high-profile lawyer Saif-ul-Malook who represented Asia Bibi (the famous woman who was on death row for blasphemy), continue to face a high risk of death or physical harm: https://defendlawyers.wordpress.com/2019/06/23/pakistan-day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-the-pakistani-lawyer-putting-his-life-on-the-line/.

Lawyers‘ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) reports that they will  invite the Canadian Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg to host and finance an event on January 24th and to bring one or two lawyers from Pakistan. LRWC has started a paper on Pakistan focused on two needs: to effectively prevent and punish the murder of lawyers through protective measure and proper investigations, prosecutions and trials and second to develop pan Pakistan education to promote religious diversity and tolerance. They will also invite the Law Society of Ontario to hold an event.  As well, at the beginning of July the G7 Bars Meeting was held in France, with representatives of the Bars of France, Canada, Germany, USA, Japan, England & Wales and Italy, representing 1.8 million lawyers.  They adopted 20 proposals to G7 governments, including one: „Commit to support actions marking the Day of the Endangered Lawyer and to encourage other countries to do likewise.“  The New Zealand Law Society has the honour of publishing the first article about DOTEL 2020, which they did in mid-July: https://defendlawyers.wordpress.com/2019/07/18/pakistan-new-zealand-pakistan-the-focus-of-2020-day-of-endangered-lawyer/




Groups Urge Human Rights Focus During Pakistan PM Visit



Day of the Endangered Lawyer

Pakistan/New Zealand: Pakistan the focus of 2020 Day of Endangered Lawyer

July 17, 2019

Image result for new zealand law society

The tenth annual Day of the Endangered Lawyer will focus on Pakistan, on 24 January 2020.

The Day of the Endangered Lawyer foundation is based in the Netherlands. It has developed a wide range of activities around the world on 24 January to raise awareness of lawyers who are being harassed, silenced, pressured, threatened, persecuted, tortured and murdered for their work as lawyers.

The day is commemorated on 24 January because on 24 January 1977 four lawyers and a coworker were murdered at their place of work in Madrid, Spain.

Of the perpetrators, who were affiliated with extreme right-wing parties and organizations, one was sentenced to 15 years in prison, another fled to Brazil and the third ended up in jail in Bolivia for drug smuggling.

The focus in 2019 has been on Turkey, with Egypt chosen for 2018.

Information released by the organisers says that over the past several years lawyers in Pakistan have been subjected to acts of mass terrorism, murder, attempted murder, assaults, (death) threats, contempt proceedings, harassment and intimidation in the execution of their professional duties.



Click to access proposals_to_the_g7_governments.pdf




https://www.lesechos.fr/monde/enjeux-internationaux/premiere-reunion-des-avocats-du-g7-1038488 (FRANCAIS)


Egypt/Day of the Endangered Lawyer: New Zealand January 24, 2018

January 17, 2018

Image result for new zealand law society

The eighth annual Day of the Endangered Lawyer will focus on Egypt, on 24 January 2018.

The Day of the Endangered Lawyer foundation is based in the Netherlands. It has developed a wide range of activities around the world on 24 January to raise awareness of lawyers who are being harassed, silenced, pressured, threatened, persecuted, tortured and murdered for their work as lawyers.

The day is commemorated on 24 January because on 24 January 1977 four lawyers and a coworker were murdered at their place of work in Madrid, Spain.

Of the perpetrators, who were affiliated with extreme right-wing parties and organizations, one was sentenced to 15 years in prison, another fled to Brazil and the third ended up in jail in Bolivia for drug smuggling.

In a report on Egypt, the foundation says many human rights organisations, among them Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, IDHAE, ELDH and the International Commission of Jurists confirm that the Egyptian authorities “have moved beyond scaremongering and are now rapidly taking concrete steps to shut down the last critical voices in the country’s human rights community.”




Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling, text

Day of the Endangered Lawyer: The courage of lawyers saluted

February 11, 2016


Lawyers’ organisations around the world marked another Day of the Endangered Lawyer on 22 January. The purpose of the event is to call attention to threatened human rights lawyers around the world. The first such day was organised in 2010 and it has gained momentum since.

In a statement released to acknowledge the day, New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore expressed the Law Society’s support for lawyers around the world who risk harassment, persecution, and injury or death in their work.

Mr Moore said New Zealand was highly ranked for its adherence to the rule of law and institutions which uphold human rights.

“An important part of this is the ability to criticise aspects of the justice system, to advocate for change, and for lawyers to represent their clients without fear of arrest or violence. Sadly this is not so for members of the legal profession in some other parts of the world.”


More than six months after the 9 July 2015 attack (“the 709 crackdown”) on the legal profession, Chinese lawyers are still missing, detained, held under residential surveillance or forbidden from leaving China. A joint statement by 115 worldwide organisations on 14 January 2016 noted that 14 lawyers and 22 human rights defenders are still being confined, with some having disappeared, and another 33 are banned from leaving the country. Bodies such as the United Nations Committee Against Torture and the International Bar Association continue to express deep concern at the treatment of the legal profession in China.

In mid-January 2016 the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders stated that human rights lawyer Shu Xiangxin had appeared before a criminal court on 8 January accused of defamation. He was sentenced to six months in prison and his lawyer’s licence was revoked. During the 30-minute trial Mr Shu’s defence lawyers were not allowed in court. He has been refused medical treatment and has been beaten and tortured by police while in custody.