On May 16, PBI-Colombia tweeted: “Last week PBI accompanied @Ccajar during the public hearing held in @CorteIDH [the Inter-American Court of Human Rights] in the case Members of the “José Alvear Restrepo” Lawyers Corporation v. Colombia. See more information about the audience here.”
The hearing took place on May 12-13 in San Jose, Costa Rica.
On May 11, PBI-Colombia also tweeted:
“@CorteIDH [the Inter-American Court of Human Rights] calls #Colombia to judge surveillance and illegal intelligence against human rights defenders @Ccajar whom we have accompanied since 1995. We express our deep admiration and solidarity for their tireless work in defense of human rights and search for justice so that #NoSeRepita [there is no repetition].”
“For the first time, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) will try a case involving illegal surveillance and intelligence on human rights defenders.
This is the case brought by the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (Cajar), which has denounced being a victim of persecution practices for more than 30 years, in which its members have been the focus of illegal intelligence activities by different State agencies, stigmatizing speeches, threats, attacks, exiles, smear campaigns, psychological torture and harassment.”
On the first day of the hearing, CCAJAR tweeted:
“In the worst years of persecution we felt that the organization was going to end. Half of the lawyers of @Ccajar had to go into exile. We always appeared on lists of threats from paramilitary groups.”
Turkish civil rights activist and philanthropist Osman Kavala was jailed for life without parole on Monday in a long-running case that sparked a diplomatic crisis and highlighted fears for the rule of law.
The 64-year-old, who has been held in prison for 4½ years, was found guilty of attempting to overthrow the government in connection with mass protests that broke out in 2013 and a failed coup three years later.
In a verdict greeted with boos and jeers, seven other defendants were sentenced to 18 years imprisonment at Istanbul’s Caglayan courthouse. The seven other defendants were civil rights activists Mucella Yapici, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Ali Hakan Altinay, Yigit Ali Ekmekci, Cigdem Mater and Mine Ozerden
The trial of Henri Barkey, a US-based professor at Lehigh University, and seven other defendants will be continued in a separate case, the court ruled.
Many raised their fists in salute in a show of defiance and promised to continue their struggle. “We will not bow to persecution. We will resist persecution,” said defendant Can Atalay.
Rights groups condemned the outcome of a case they had already criticized as unfounded and unjust.
“Today, we have witnessed a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions,” said Nils Muiznieks, Europe director at Amnesty International, of the “politically motivated charade.”
He added, “The court’s decision defies all logic. The prosecuting authorities have repeatedly failed to provide any evidence that substantiates the baseless charges of attempting to overthrow the government.
“This unjust verdict shows that the Gezi trial was only an attempt to silence independent voices.”
Emma Sinclair-Webb, Europe director at Human Rights Watch, described the conclusion of the “show trial” as “horrifying, cruel and evil.”
The Honduran law firm “Justicia para los Pueblos” is specialised in the legal assistance of peasant and indigenous populations in Honduras. The law firm has been representing for more than XX years, environmental defenders and peasants who have seen their rights violated by the state or by the management of macro energy projects.
The law firm “Justicia para los Pueblos” filed a complaint before the National Human Rights Commissioner of Honduras (CONADEH) on Monday 24 January, alleging intimidation of the legal defence team by armed men inside the courts of Tocoa, in the department of Colón, where the trial of the 8 environmental activists detained in the “Guapinol” case is being held.
This complaint, presented by lawyers, Carlo Jiménez, Mario Rojas and Kenia Oliva, described two armed men who, without identifying themselves at any time entered with the public prosecutor. When asked to identify these armed men, the public prosecutor stated that they were protecting an expert and the Public Prosecutor’s Office itself. The prosecutor refused to reveal the identity or security affiliation of these individuals. This incursion is not only irregular but also criminal in appearance, according to those involved.
The Guapinol case, named after the arrest of 8 environmental defenders defending the river of the same name, has taken over the media spotlight from the Berta Cáceres case in Honduras and the exposure faced by the colleagues of “Justicia para los Pueblos” law firm has taken on an international level.
Turkish authorities have ordered the detention of 78 people in the last five days due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, according to reports by Turkish media.
The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Friday issued detention warrants for 20 people including 17 lawyers over alleged links to the movement. Police conducted operations across seven provinces as part of the operation and detained 18 of the suspects.
On Wednesday the chief public prosecutor’s office in Ankara ordered the detention of 29 people including active duty and dismissed gendarmerie officers over alleged Gülen links. Police conducted operations in 20 provinces to detain the suspects.
An additional 11 detention warrants were issued in Manisa and Adana provinces on Thursday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Lawyers are being arbitrarily arrested, prosecuted and convicted, as well as forcibly disappeared and even killed in countries across the world because of their work upholding the rule of law, the Law Society of England and Wales said to mark the day of the endangered lawyer on 24 January.
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “We honour the courage and commitment of lawyers around the world who put their lives at risk so that people’s rights are protected and those who violate them are held accountable.
“Today we think particularly of our colleagues in Afghanistan who helped build the justice system and bring stability to the country under the former government. Since the Taliban took power some have tragically been killed because of the work they did, a few managed to escape, but far too many are in hiding, at risk from not only the Taliban but also from terrorists and criminals they convicted since released from prison.
“The Law Society stands in solidarity with legal professionals around the world. We will continue to work to support them and to contribute to building strong, fair justice systems everywhere.”
The last thing Amr Imam wrote on Facebook, “I am being arrested from home” (Facebook)
Two full years have passed since the Egyptian human rights lawyer Amr Imam has been in prison in a solitary cell, since his arrest, on October 16, 2019, from his home at dawn, and his inclusion in case No. 488 of 2019 State Security Inspection, in which he was transferred from a lawyer who Turn in the defense of prisoners of conscience to the accused.
The last thing an imam wrote on his personal account on the social networking site “Facebook” before it was closed completely was, “I am being arrested from the house.”
The Egyptian security forces arrested Amr Imam from his home on October 16, 2019, after he announced on his personal Facebook page that he condemned the arrest and assault of journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah and his solidarity with her. He was arrested on the same day and transferred from a lawyer to a prisoner of conscience. .
Immediately before that, Imam had announced his entry into a partial hunger strike to protest the arrest and torture of his friends, especially the political activist and journalist Esraa Abdel-Fattah, the prominent political activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, and the human rights lawyer Muhammad Al-Baqer. He said that if the demands were not met, he would escalate his protest by starting with a full hunger strike, then an open sit-in inside a judicial building with his complete hunger strike, then by escalating and announcing that he had stopped taking any liquids other than water, and then by escalating a comprehensive strike and stopping drinking water.
Imam summarized his targeted demands from this solidarity strike in “opening an investigation and hearing the statements of Alaa Abdel-Fattah, as a victim of his torture, transferring Muhammad Al-Baqer and Alaa Abdel-Fattah from a high-security prison 2, and opening an investigation into the torture of Israa Abdel-Fattah and hearing her statements as a victim.” And he opened visits to a high-security prison 2 and empowered all prison inmates “convicted and remanded” of their full rights, as stipulated by the Prison Authority regulation.” He found himself convicted of the same accusations as those who demanded their freedom, and he joins them in the same case.
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan’s Independent Bar Association (AIBA) has attracted strong condemnation from the global legal profession. According to the association’s exiled president, Rohullah Qarizada, on 23 November ’50 armed Taliban’ stormed a meeting of AIBA officials in their office in Kabul.
Meanwhile a Taliban cabinet directive has stripped the AIBA of powers to license lawyers and required licence holders to re-apply to the Ministry of Justice. The government has taken over the association’s bar account and now has access to the personnel and professional records of 2,500 lawyers, as well as AIBA staff members and committee members.
In a letter to the secretary general of the United Nations, the International Bar Association said today that the move ‘has completely compromised the independence of the legal profession in Afghanistan’.
The AIBA was established as an independent organisation in 2008.
The IBA’s letter requests that the UN add its voice to a public statement denouncing the violation of the legal profession’s independence. It says that the ramifications of the takeover for the rule of law, the administration of justice and the further contraction of the rights of women and girls ‘cannot be overestimated’.
Algerian authorities must immediately release human rights lawyer Abderraouf Arslane and drop bogus “false news” and terrorism-related charges against him which stem from his defense of Hirak activists and the expression of his opinions online, said Amnesty International today ahead of the start of his trial on 30 November.
Abderraouf Arslane was detained on 26 May 2021 in the Court of Tebessa, where he was defending three activists – Aziz Bekakria, Redouane Hamidi and Azeddine Mansouri – who had been arrested earlier that day. After the hearing, the prosecutor ordered the detention of Arslane pending investigation on vague accusations of alleged ties with members of Rachad, an unregistered political movement, and his participation in public debates on the 2019-2021 Algerian protests, also known as the Hirak movement, neither of which are recognizable crimes under international law.
“It is terrible that the Algerian authorities are incarcerating a lawyer simply for doing his job and peacefully exercising his right to free speech. Abderraouf Arslane’s imprisonment and prosecution send a chilling message to lawyers across the country who dare to defend activists or speak up about human rights, especially in the context of the ongoing crackdown on dissent in Algeria,” said Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“The Algerian authorities must immediately release Abderraouf Arslane from arbitrary pre-trial detention, drop all unfounded charges against him, and cease the judicial harassment and intimidation aimed at unlawfully repressing his legal activities.”
An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced a prominent human rights lawyer to five years in prison for his conviction on charges that rights advocates have decried as baseless and politically motivated.
The Misdemeanors State Security Emergency Court in Cairo found Zyad el-Elaimy, a former lawmaker, guilty of conspiring to commit crimes with an outlawed group. That’s a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has banned as a terrorist organization.
The court also sentenced journalists Hossam Monis and Hisham Fouad to four years in prison on the same charges. Two other defendants got three-year sentences. All were fined 500 Egyptian pounds (around $32).
Defense lawyer Khalid Ali said Wednesday’s verdict is not subject to appeal before civilian courts because it was issued by an emergency court. He said the defense would file an appeal to a military court.
The global rights watchdog Amnesty International condemned the charges against the defendants, saying they stemmed from “their peaceful political activities.” It called for President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to quash the sentences and release them.
“These politicians and activists should never have been arrested in the first place and yet they have been convicted and sentenced to prison on charges related to their legitimate criticism of the Egyptian authorities,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s regional research and advocacy director.
In March 2020, a court sentenced el-Elaimy to a year in prison after it found him guilty of “deliberately spreading fake news.”
El-Elaimy was added by a court in 2020 to a list of suspected terrorists for the next five years, a decision upheld by the Court of Cassation — Egypt’s highest criminal court.
A vocal critic of the government, el-Elaimy is a leading activist in the secular Egyptian Social Democratic Party. He served as a member of parliament after the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat President Hosni Mubarak.