Tag Archives: OMCT

Belarus: Trial against the leaders of Viasna begins on January 5


Nobel prize winner Ales Bialiatski, FIDH Vice-President Valiantsin Stefanovic and lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich, will be tried on January 5, 2023. The three face fake charges of smuggling and financing of group actions grossly violating public order. The Observatory demands their release and calls for solidarity actions in support of the imprisoned human rights defenders in Belarus.

On January 5, 2023, Viasna Chairman and Nobel Peace Prize 2022 laureate Ales Bialiatski, his deputy Valiantsin Stefanovic, and Viasna’s lawyer and coordinator of the “Free Elections Campaign” Uladzimir Labkovich will face trial before the Lieninski District Court of Minsk, after more than 17 months of arbitrary detention. Another defendant in this case and Viasna member Zmister Salauyou has left Belarus and will be tried in absentia.

Messrs Bialiatski, Stefanovic and Labkovich were arrested on July 14, 2021, and held in torturous conditions ever since. They are accused under two criminal articles:

• “Smuggling; illegal movement of cash across the customs border of the Eurasian Economic Union on a large scale by an organized group” (Article 228.4 of the Criminal Code of Belarus); and
• “Financing of group actions grossly violating the public order” (Article 342.2 of the same Code). They face from 7 to 12 years of imprisonment if convicted and sentenced.

The charges are politically motivated and refer to Viasna’s legitimate human rights activities, deemed “illegal” by the prosecution. The defendants are notably accused of helping victims of the Lukashenka regime’s repression, including those protesting the 2020 election fraud, by paying their legal fees, reimbursing fines and paying for meals in detention centers.

The current charges against the defendants were filed in October 2022, whilst since July 2021 the three were detained on the charge of “tax evasion” (Part 2 of Art. 243 of the Belarus Criminal Code), which was later dropped. This charge was already used to target Ales Bialiatski in 2012, when he was sentenced to four and a half years of imprisonment. He was released in June 2014, after the UN Human Rights Committee ruled that his conviction was illegal and ordered his release.

The judicial proceedings against Bialiatski, Stefanovic and Labkovich are marred by numerous irregularities. The investigation period has been dragged out by the authorities, and has exceeded the legal limit established in Belarusian law and international standards. There are sufficient grounds to claim that this is due to a deliberate attempt to fabricate evidence. Their pre-trial detention has been continuously extended in closed doors hearings, even though the Belarusian law offers alternatives in the form of house arrest. It is believed that the authorities have kept them in inhumane detention conditions to force them to confess.

Their lawyers as well as the defendants themselves have been placed under a nondisclosure obligation. For 17 months, they have been systematically denied family visits, and medical care and access to their lawyers have been severely limited.

The reprisals against Viasna and its members are part of a broader crackdown on civil society in Belarus. In 2021 alone, the authorities shut down more than 275 human rights and other civil society organisations, leaving no legally operating independent NGO in the country. In December 2021, the authorities re-introduced criminal liability for working with unregistered or liquidated organisations. This led to a de facto criminalisation of human rights work in Belarus. Since 2020, five other members of Viasna were put behind bars, including Marfa RabkovaAndrei ChapyukLeanid Sudalenka and Tatsiana Lasitsa.







Turkey: Judicial harassment and upcoming trial of rights lawyer Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş



The Observatory has been informed about the judicial harassment and upcoming trial hearing of Ms Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş, a lawyer, women’s rights defender and board member of the Rosa Women’s Association (Rosa Kadın Derneği). Rosa Women’s Association is a civil society organisation focusing on violence against women and women’s rights in Diyarbakır and overall South-Eastern region in Turkey. The Association has supported more than 160 women who survived from violence.

On December 22, 2022, the eighth hearing in the ongoing trial of Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş on the charge of “membership to an armed terrorist organisation” (Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code) will be held before the Diyarbakır 8th Heavy Penal Court. If convicted, Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş could face up to 10 years of imprisonment.

The case against Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş began in May 2020, when Diyarbakır prosecution authorities launched investigations into members of Rosa Women’s Association. The authorities then divided individual cases per person and the investigation against Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş initiated in August 2020.

According to the indictment drawn up by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the charges relate to the allegation that Rosa Women’s Association would praise and defend the activities and principles of the Kurdistan Labour Party (PKK), which would make members and board members of the Association members of an armed terrorist organisation.

Apart from the general allegations against the association, the indictment against Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş presents only one anonymous witness statement as the basis of her alleged “membership to an armed terrorist organisation”. This anonymous statement alleges that, as an attorney, Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş regularly visits women prisoners convicted for terrorism-related charges, financially assists them, and provides them communication with the PKK and the outer world. Elif Tirenç İpek Ulaş denied these allegations, explaining that the aim of Rosa Women’s Association is to advocate to put an end to violence against women, and that she did not carry any prison visit in the last three years nor is familiar with any of the women prisoners the anonymous witness mentioned. So far, Diyarbakır 8th Heavy Penal Court did not inquire into the allegations and defences of the parties.




https://jinpanel.com/HUKUK/content/view/201269 (TURKCE)


Tajikistan: On-going imprisonment of lawyer Buzurghmehr Yorov and current detention conditions


In a joint letter to the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Tajikistan, Lawyers for Lawyers and Freedom Now have expressed their concern about the on-going imprisonment of lawyer Buzurghmehr Yorov.

On 6 October 2016, Mr. Yorov was found guilty for several violations of the Criminal Code and sentenced to 23 years imprisonment. In 2017, his sentence was increased with 5 years for insulting government officials. Mr. Yorov received a total sentence of 28 years, which was reduced by six years in the mass amnesty of December 2019.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded in 2019 that Mr Yorov’s imprisonment was unmotivated and a violation of several international standards. They ordered the immediate release of Mr. Yorov, without success.

According to our information, Mr. Yorov has suffered serious ill-treatment and is at grave risk at the moment. On 16 November 2022, he was placed in solitary confinement in a punishment cell for expressing its disagreement with the President. Here, Mr. Yorov is reportedly tortured, which has even led to hospitalization. On 17 November, Mr. Yorov is transferred to a different prison without notice to the Ministry of Justice or his family. He was held incommunicado until 10 December, when his wife was allowed to visit him and noticed he had bruising on his neck and face, a sign of mistreatment.

Lawyers for Lawyers and Lawyers for Lawyers and Freedom Now are deeply concerned about the safety and health of Mr. Yorov and respectfully urge the authorities of Tajikistan to:

– Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Yorov in compliance with the WGAD decision; and

– Ensure his safety and health according to international standards.

Read the full letter here.




Uzbekistan: Opening of the trial against rights defender Dauletmurat Tajimuratov



The Observatory has been informed about the opening of the trial against Mr Dauletmurat Tajimuratov, who was abducted in June 2022 along with his relatives and has been arbitrarily detained ever since. Mr Tajimuratov is a lawyer, independent journalist, and defender of the rights of the Karakalpak national minority in Uzbekistan.

On November 28, 2022, Dauletmurat Tajimuratov appeared before the Bukhara Regional Criminal Court for the first hearing in his criminal trial on the following charges:

  • “Intentional grievous bodily harm” (Article 104, paragraph 3(a) of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan);
  • “Conspiracy to seize power or overthrow the constitutional order” (Article 159 paragraph 4 of the same Code);
  • “Theft by embezzlement or misappropriation at a large scale” (Article 167, paragraph 3(a) of the same Code);
  • “Legalisation of proceeds of criminal activity” (Article 243 of the same Code);
  • “Organisation of mass riots accompanied by violence” (Article 244, paragraph 3 of the same Code);
  • “Preparation and dissemination of materials containing threat to public security and public order” (Article 244-1, paragraph 1(a, b, g) of the same Code).

The articles under which Mr Tajimuratov is accused carry penalties of up to 8, 10 and 15 years in prison. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, he remained detained in pre-trial detention centre No. 11 in the city of Urgench, Khorezm region.

The Observatory notes that the judge hearing the case, Mr Yelubay Abibullayev, was criticised by Mr Tajimuratov in a video the latter published on his YouTube channel in November 2021 denouncing the judge’s alleged involvement in a corruption case. This creates a conflict of interest and raises concerns over the fairness and impartiality of the trial.

Mr Tajimuratov is being tried along with 21 individuals who participated or allegedly intended to participate in the July 2022 Karakalpak massive protests over the Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s proposed amendments to the Constitution of Uzbekistan, including the removal of the autonomous status of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. The protests were met with a brutal crackdown on civil society in the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, as well as the imposition of a one-month regional state of emergency and an Internet shutdown in the above-mentioned autonomous Republic.

The Observatory recalls that Mr Tajimuratov was abducted on June 30, 2022 by alleged officers of the Uzbekistan National Security Service from his home in the city of Nukus, along with his wife, two brothers and 8-year-old daughter. 





https://www.gazeta.uz/oz/2022/12/01/live/ (UZBEK)


Mexico: Concern about harassment, surveillance and likely attempted murder of lawyer and defender of the Peoples’ Front in Defense of Land and Water – Morelos, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Juan Carlos Flores Solís


Joint Declaration by: Peace Brigades International – PBI Mexico; World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders; Protection International Mesoamerica; Taula per Mèxic (Barcelona); Front line Defenders; Swedish Movement for Reconciliation – SweFOR; Amnesty International

Concern about the harassment, surveillance and likely attempted murder of the lawyer and defender of the Peoples’ Front in Defense of Land and Water – Morelos, Puebla, Tlaxcala (FPDTA – MPT), Juan Carlos Flores Solís.

November 28, 2022

  • The Mexican State has the duty to guarantee the right to defend human and collective rights, and the integrity and life of human rights defenders of the FPDTA-MPT.
  • Human rights organizations are concerned about the harassment, surveillance and likely attempted murder of the lawyer and human rights defender Juan Carlos Flores Solís.

The undersigned organizations hereby recognize the indispensable work of the lawyer and human rights defender of the FPDTA-MPT, Juan Carlos Flores Solís, for his human rights work and defense of the right to access to water, a healthy environment and the self-determination of peoples.

The work of Juan Carlos Flores Solís, as a member and lawyer of the FPDTA-MPT, has focused on legal and social accompaniment of different indigenous Nahua communities fighting against mega-projects and against the extraction and contamination of water, both in the Cuautla River, in the municipality of Ayala, Morelos, and in the Metlapanapa River, in the municipality of Juan C. Bonilla, Puebla.

We would like to collectively express our concern for the recent events of intimidation, harassment, surveillance and the likely attempted homicide against Juan Carlos Flores Solís, which is directly linked to his legitimate legal and human rights work. We have received information from Juan Carlos Flores Solís about the attacks against his physical integrity, threats of physical harm, repeated raids, and acts of surveillance, intimidation and harassment that he has been subjected to throughout this year. These attacks seek to undermine and hinder the exercise of his right to defend human rights, as his legal and social accompaniment work is translated into denouncing the serious environmental impacts related to the industrial activity of both Mexican and transnational companies operating in the centre of the country.



https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/es/statement-report/joint-statement-mexico-concern-about-harassment-surveillance-juan-carlos-flores-solis (ESPANOL)





Turkey: Stigmatisation and death threats against Jiyan Tosun and her family



The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği – İHD) about the acts of stigmatisation and death threats against Ms Jiyan Tosun, her family, and Ms Eren Keskin. Ms Tosun is a lawyer and member of İHD. She is the daughter of Mr Fehmi Tosun, who was forcibly disappeared in 1995. Jiyan Tosun works for justice, truth and reparation for her father and other victims of enforced disappearance, together with the Saturday Mothers/People. Ms Keskin is the Co-Chairperson of İHD.

On November 13, 2022, while they were sitting in a café in Küçükçekmece District, Istanbul, plainclothes police officers took Jiyan Tosun and two of her foreign clients to the Istanbul Küçükçekmece Police Station for an identity check. In the police station, Ms Tosun was informed that a bomb attack in İstiklal Street, in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, had just been perpetrated. She was questioned by the anti-terror branch police, who asked her if she had any information about the attack. Ms Tosun was released shortly after, together with her clients.

As Ms Tosun was in the police station, Mr Adem Taşkaya, a member of the Victory Party (Zafer Partisi) posted a photo of a woman, allegedly the terrorist suspect, on Twitter. Along with the photo, he published a message stating that Ms Jiyan Tosun was responsible for the attack, which killed six people and wounded 81. Even though the post was removed within three minutes, Ms Tosun and her family have been receiving offline and online threats, including death, rape and sexual violence threats, since then. On the same day, unknown individuals who identified themselves as police officers posted photos and personal information about Ms Tosun and her relatives, including minors, on a Telegram channel.

Consequently, due to her work as a lawyer in the same office as Jiyan Tosun and her position as co-chair of İHD, Eren Keskin has also been targeted and threatened as a result of the false information posted by Mr Taşkaya.

On November 14, 2022, after spending the previous night in a police station in Istanbul as a protective measure, Ms Tosun filed a criminal complaint against Mr Adem Taşkaya before the Küçükçekmece Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Ms Tosun also requested to be put under a protection scheme.










https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/tr/case/death-threats-against-woman-human-rights-defender-and-lawyer-jiyan-tosun (TURKCE)


https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/fr/case/death-threats-against-woman-human-rights-defender-and-lawyer-jiyan-tosun (FRANCAIS)


Click to access EN_HRL_20221124_Turkey_Sentencing-of-lawyers-from-the-Progressive-Lawyers-Association-HD-and-the-People-s-Law-Office-HHB.pdf

Click to access EN_HRL_20221115_Turkey_Arrest-of-lawyer-Aryen-Turan.pdf

Iran: Nasrin Sotoudeh returns to jail while at least 3 more rights lawyers arrested














https://www.paris-normandie.fr/id348336/article/2022-10-05/un-avocat-de-rouen-lorigine-de-la-video-ou-des-artistes-francaises-se-coupent (FRANCAIS)




https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/3137 (ARABIC)

Burundi: Tony Germain Nkina, avocat en danger


Tony Germain Nkina est un avocat burundais.

Longtemps membre de l’Association pour la protection des droits humains et des personnes détenues, qu’il représentait dans la province de Kayanza, Tony Nkina a milité pour venir en aide aux détenus les plus vulnérables. Après la réélection plus que contestée du président Nkurunziza, en 2015, les activités de l’APRODH ont été suspendues et ses avoirs gelés. Dans le même temps la plupart des ONG qui œuvraient au Burundi ont été contraintes de réduire leurs activités ou de quitter le pays. Plusieurs membres de l’APRODH ont été arrêtés et condamnés à de lourdes peines de prison sous des accusations fallacieuses.

Refusant de quitter le pays, au contraire de nombreux autres défenseurs des droits humains qui se sont résolus à l’exil, Tony Nkina a continué à pratiquer son métier. Mais en 2020, alors qu’il s’était rendu dans le nord du pays pour y assister un client dans le cadre d’un litige foncier, il a été arrêté et mis en procès sous l’inculpation de « collaboration avec des groupes armés ». Malgré ses dénégations et l’absence de toute preuve, il a été condamné à cinq années de prison et est toujours aujourd’hui détenu. L’avènement du nouveau président Ndayishimiye n’a malheureusement rien changé à sa situation.







https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/09/22/interview-paying-price-defending-human-rights-burundi (ENGLISH)

https://www.amnistia.org/ve/noticias/2022/10/22058/burundi-abogado-recluido-arbitrariamente-desde-hace-casi-dos-anos (ESPANOL)

Jailed Lawyers Warn Iran’s Government of ‘Dark Horizon’ Ahead


Two lawyers, jailed as political prisoners in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, have warned the Iranian government’s disregard of public demands could lead to a “very dark future”.

Amirsalar Davoudi and Mohammadhadi Erfanian Kaseb wrote to the authorities in a letter seen by IranWire.

Davoudi is a human rights lawyer serving a 30-year sentence for “insulting officials” and “propaganda against the regime”.

Defense lawyer Erfanian, who has represented many human rights activists, was imprisoned after speaking to the media about the murder of one of his clients.

In their statement from Evin, the pair wrote: “Following the nationwide and widespread protests which were met with a series of coercive and unacceptable encounters, we draw the attention of the responsible authorities to Articles 27 and 34 of the Constitution.

“We demand the government pays heed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“The government should try to fulfil the reasonable and completely civil demands of the people. Failing to respond effectively to their demands may lead the remaining public trust to vanish, and paint a very dark horizon before our eyes.”

It is reported that as many as 3,000 people may have been detained in Evin Prison during ten days of protests following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini.

The Iranian authorities have responded to the protests with lethal force. At least 76 people are so far known to be killed.

“The government should refrain from making false accusations, and avoid a coercive crackdown,” the lawyers wrote.










https://per.euronews.com/2022/09/24/amirsalar-davoudi-iranian-lawyer-imprisoned-won-european-attornies-human-rights-prize (FARSI)


http://www.presseagence.fr/lettre-economique-politique-paca/2022/09/27/paris-iran-les-avocats-francais-alertent-la-ministre-de-leurope-et-des-affaires-etrangeres/ (FRANCAIS)



Joint oral statement to Human Rights Council on Belarus


On 28 June, Lawyers for Lawyers, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada delivered an oral statement on Belarus during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus. The interactive dialogue took place during the 50th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The statement reads as follows:

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, Lawyers for Lawyers, and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada remain alarmed at the findings in the Special Rapporteur’s report, including the growing number of arbitrary arrests and detentions on politically motivated grounds.  

As of 22 June, 66 Belarusian lawyers have been persecuted since the 2020 elections, including through disbarment, detention, and prosecution. Recent examples include the detention of Vitaliy Braginets, Alexander Danilevich, and Anastasia Lazarenko. On 23 May, Maksim Znak was added to the Belarusian State Security Committee’s “list of terrorists”. This creates a chilling effect on other legal professionals, restricting human rights defenders’ and political opponents’ right to access independent, effective legal representation.

We also note with concern the further deterioration of the independence of the judiciary, used by the authorities “as repressive instruments to silence dissent”. This, together with ongoing attacks against lawyers, undermines justice and perpetuates a culture of impunity.

Finally, we condemn recent amendments to the Criminal Code that expand the application of the death penalty in Belarus.

We urge this Council to take all possible actions to ensure accountability for abuses and to prevent further deterioration of the situation, and to ensure the renewal the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.