Tag Archives: UN Human Rights Council

Afghanistan: Lawyers, specifically women lawyers, are in serious danger

06/09/22

The CCBE urges the de facto authorities to reinstate the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association and allow all lawyers to practise law freely and without fear of persecution.

Les avocats, et en particulier les avocates, sont en grand danger. Le CCBE exhorte les autorités à rétablir l’Association indépendante du barreau afghan et à permettre à tous les avocats d’exercer librement et sans crainte de persécution.

Click to access EN_HRL_20220906_Afghanistan_Situation-of-lawyers-in-Afghanistan.pdf

https://www.smh.com.au/national/if-you-give-someone-1000-he-can-kill-anybody-why-judge-nellab-fled-kabul-20220719-p5b2qe.html

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/09/human-rights-council-discusses-situation-human-rights-afghanistan-focus

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/09/human-rights-council-hold-fifty-first-regular-session-12-september-7-october

https://www.ohchr.org/en/hr-bodies/hrc/regular-sessions/session51/list-reports

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220912-we-are-erased-afghan-women-demand-action-at-un

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/12/un-expert-describes-staggering-repression-of-women-and-girls-in-afghanistan

https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/afghan-mp-taliban-gender-apartheid-regime-89779095

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/asia/afghanistan/oral-statement-for-the-interactive-dialogue-with-the-special

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/09/12/international-criminal-court-should-reach-decision-afghanistan

https://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/en/reports/rights-freedom/un-human-rights-warns-of-afghanistans-descent-into-authoritarianism/

https://www.ibanet.org/IBAHRI-calls-for-creation-of-a-dedicated-accountability-mechanism-for-Afghanistan-in-joint-letter

https://www.dw.com/en/afghanistan-un-warns-taliban-against-harassing-its-female-employees/a-63098371

https://www.law360.com/articles/1523654

https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2022/09/13/afghanistan-la-lutte-pour-le-respect-des-droits-fondamentaux-doit-continuer_6141329_3232.html (FRANCAIS)

European Court of Human Rights, UN bodies debunk Turkey’s post-coup prosecutions

14/07/22

On the sixth anniversary of a controversial coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, the Turkish government continues to use emergency powers as well as the country’s overly broad and vague anti-terror laws to maintain its repressive control of the people. According to a statement from Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, 559,332 people have been investigated or prosecuted in the last six years for terrorism over their links to the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the coup attempt, although the movement denies any involvement. While 116,702 people have so far been convicted of membership in a terrorist organization, 115,714 are still being investigated or standing trial. According to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, 332,884 people were arrested over their alleged links to the Gülen movement between July 16, 2016 and June 20, 2022, with more than 101,000 put in pretrial detention and 104,000 subjected to judicial supervision.

The government has deployed a set of variables to accuse and prosecute those people for membership in a terrorist organization under Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code. These variables include (i) being a depositor at Bank Asya, a now-defunct Gülen-affiliated financial institution; (ii) being a shareholder in companies that have been dissolved/seized under a state of emergency declared after the failed coup for alleged Gülen links; (iii) using the ByLock messaging app, considered by Turkish authorities a secret tool of communication among members of the Gülen movement; (iv) police or intelligence agency reports; (v) analysis of social media activity and websites visited; (vi) donations made to relief organizations with alleged Gülen links; (vii) being a resident or student in dormitories or schools that were closed down under the state of emergency for alleged Gülen links; (viii) sending children to those schools that were subsequently shuttered; (ix) subscription to Gülen-linked publications; (x) information received from colleagues or neighbors; and (xi) being a manager, employee or member of a trade union, association, foundation or company closed/dissolved/seized under the state of emergency for alleged Gülen links.

Malicious prosecution is defined as the initiation of a criminal prosecution with malice and without probable cause. All those cases are literally malicious prosecutions since the set of variables used to prosecute hundreds of thousands of people are no more than details of everyday life and were absolutely lawful at the material time.

Indeed, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has so far found that pretrial detention based on those criteria is not sufficient to convince an objective observer of the existence of reasonable suspicion for being a member of a criminal organization.

[…]

Although Turkish courts are acting as willing executioners of the executive branch and no longer care or give credence to human rights conventions, constitutional principles or the law, when the victims are heard by the ECtHR and UN rights bodies, they are constantly being vindicated. It, therefore, proves the need for maintaining hope and continuing the fight for justice.

Statement of the Platform on judiciary in Turkey

UN Human Rights Council adopts resolution on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors, and the independence of lawyers (A/HRC/50/L.3)

07/07/22

[…]

Concerning the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors, and the independence of lawyers: participation of women in the administration of justice, the Council called upon all States to guarantee the independence of judges and lawyers and the objectivity and impartiality of prosecutors, and to promote the full, equal and meaningful participation and representation of all women at all levels of the administration of justice. The Council called upon Governments to respond favourably to the requests of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers to visit their country, and to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur in investigations, follow-up procedures and the implementation of his or her recommendations.

[…]

In a resolution (A/HRC/50/L.3) on the Independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors, and the independence of lawyers: participation of women in the administration of justice , adopted without a vote (as orally revised), the Council calls upon all States to guarantee the independence of judges and lawyers and the objectivity and impartiality of prosecutors, and to promote the full, equal and meaningful participation and representation of all women at all levels of the administration of justice; calls upon Governments to respond favourably to the requests of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers to visit their country, and to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur in investigations, follow-up procedures and the implementation of his or her recommendations.

[…]

https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2022/07/morning-human-rights-council-adopts-nine-resolutions-extends

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/07/human-rights-council-adopts-nine-resolutions-extends-mandates-eritrea

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/G22/392/93/PDF/G2239293.pdf?OpenElement

https://www.ungeneva.org/fr/news-media/meeting-summary/2022/07/morning-human-rights-council-adopts-nine-resolutions-extends (FRANCAIS)

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/G22/392/94/PDF/G2239294.pdf?OpenElement

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/G22/392/96/PDF/G2239296.pdf?OpenElement (ESPANOL)

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/G22/392/91/PDF/G2239291.pdf?OpenElement (ARABIC)

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/G22/392/92/PDF/G2239292.pdf?OpenElement (CHINESE)

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/G22/392/95/PDF/G2239295.pdf?OpenElement (RUSSIAN)

Some 35 lawyers linked to protester relief fund being probed by Hong Kong Bar Association

05/07/22

Letters sent by the group, which represents barristers, reportedly accused them of bypassing defendants’ instructing firms and collecting remuneration directly from the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund.

The Hong Kong Bar Association has asked barristers who received remuneration from a now-defunct protester relief fund to submit written explanations over suspected professional misconduct, Oriental Daily and Sing Tao reported.

According to its report on Tuesday, the association has sent letters to some 35 barristers since June 27.

The letters reportedly list court cases related to the 2019 protests which were handled by the lawyers in question. The barristers stand accused of violating the profession’s Code of Conduct by bypassing solicitors representing defendants and collecting remuneration directly from the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund.

Sing Tao quoted sources as saying all the barristers concerned had practised for less than five years. Some had allegedly received HK$3,000 to HK$6,000 per day spent in court from the fund, while claiming they worked pro bono – without charge.

The association told HKFP a probe was underway: “We are not in a position to respond or comment on the updates or details in the investigation before it is concluded,” they said in a statement on Tuesday.

National security arrests

The city’s national security police unit said in May it had uncovered misconduct by some lawyers linked to the 612 fund and had filed complaints to the Law Society of Hong Kong, which represents solicitors, and to the Hong Kong Bar Association. It did not describe the alleged misconduct.

[…]

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/B-9-2022-0360_EN.html

https://samuelbickett.substack.com/p/whats-going-on-with-the-hong-kong?s=r

https://www.economist.com/interactive/essay/2022/07/01/how-hong-kong-became-a-police-state

https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/reports-publications/5899-hong-kong-submission-to-the-un-human-rights-committee-on-the-deterioration-of-civic-space

UN Human Rights Council: Self-governing professional bodies key to rule of law

04/07/22

The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) participated in the recent 50th UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where Special Rapporteur Diego García-Sayán presented his report on the free and independent exercise of the legal profession. 

The CCBE says that the report is important and positive for the legal profession in its emphasis on states taking all necessary measures so that lawyers may exercise their legitimate professional rights and duties free from all restrictions, and without fear of reprisals – including judicial harassment.

Measures

García-Sayán, the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, recommends that states should implement measures to prevent the identification of lawyers with their clients or the causes they defend.

The Special Rapporteur also stresses the importance of Bars and Law Societies remaining independent and self-governing, to protect the independence and the integrity of lawyers, as well as safeguarding their professional interests.

On the ongoing work of the Council of Europe on an international legal instrument to protect the legal profession, the Special Rapporteur supports the adoption of a binding instrument that is open to accession by non-member states of the Council of Europe.

The Special Rapporteur also thanked the CCBE (pictured) for its work on the report, praising it for “defence of defenders”.

Binding legal instrument

He ended by appealing again to the Council of Europe member states to support the adoption of a binding legal instrument on the protection of the free and independent exercise of the legal profession that is open to accession by non-member states of the Council of Europe.

The report emphasises that the free exercise of the legal profession is an indispensable element of the judicial guarantees that ensure a fair trial and the protection of human rights.

[…]

Undue restrictions

States have a duty to guarantee that lawyers can exercise their profession without undue restrictions. 

The report concludes with recommendations on how to protect those practising law.

Restrictions on the work of lawyers have increased as a result of the measures adopted by the states in response to coronavirus, the report points out.

Between 2010 and 2020, more than 2,500 lawyers were killed, detained or kidnapped in different regions of the world, the report adds.

https://www.lawsociety.ie/gazette/top-stories/2022/self-governing-professional-bodies-key-to-rule-of-law

Burma: Military detains three more lawyers representing junta opponents in Mandalay 

01/07/22

Junta authorities arrested three more Mandalay-based lawyers representing political detainees on Wednesday as they returned home from court hearings inside the city’s prison, according to sources within the local legal network.

The detainees—identified as Tin Win Aung, his wife Thae Su Naing, and Thuta—were reportedly leaving Obo Prison after attending hearings for their clients within the closed court there. 

Three of their local colleagues spoke to Myanmar Now on the condition of anonymity and confirmed their arrests to Myanmar Now. At the time of reporting it was not known where they were being held in junta custody or why they had been specifically targeted.

“We still don’t know the details of their arrests. I only heard that Thuta’s vehicle was also seized,” one of the lawyers said. 

Following the February 2021 military coup, lawyers representing jailed activists and political opponents of the military have also faced threats to their personal security for challenging the practice of arbitrary detentions in a junta-controlled judiciary. 

While the number of lawyers detained across the country is unknown, attorneys in Mandalay said that at least 10 of their colleagues had been arrested since the coup and dozens more are wanted by the military authorities.

[…]

https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/military-detains-three-more-lawyers-representing-junta-opponents-in-mandalay

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/three-lawyers-assisting-political-cases-arrested-in-mandalay-07012022055531.html

https://www.frontiermyanmar.net/en/the-struggle-to-bring-justice-to-myanmar/

Afghanistan: Taliban’s new bar exam procedures & notable absence of new women attorneys

01/07/22

Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation on the ground since the Taliban takeover. Here, a young lawyer in Kabul reports on the complications Taliban governance has wrought for young lawyers wishing to regain their rights to practice in the country. For privacy and security reasons, we are withholding our correspondent’s name. The text has only been lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.

The Afghanistan Independent Bar Association was merged with the Taliban’s Ministry of Justice right after they seized power in August last year. The Taliban merged the bar association into the Ministry of Justice’s organizational framework as a general directorate, despite efforts by several advocacy groups to protect the bar association’s independence.

The organization of the ministry has been expanded to include the bar directorate, and a procedure was later created to govern its daily operations. In accordance to this procedure, in order to practice law in Afghanistan, every licensed attorney is required to pass a new evaluation exam.

To assess the legal and Islamic knowledge of attorneys who are interested in taking the test and obtaining a new license, a new testing mechanism was established.

The exam was divided into two main components that tested applicants’ legal and Islamic knowledge, respectively. Although the major purpose of the exam was to assess applicants’ understanding of Islam, the testing committee also posed questions about business laws, the penal code, arbitration, inheritance law, and other topics.

In accordance with the new procedure, a committee comprising five members — mainly appointed on the basis of their knowledge of Islamic law — is appointed to evaluate an attorney who shows interest in obtaining a new license to practice law. The procedure does not limit gender diversity for obtaining a legal license but unfortunately, no female attorneys have yet been given a license. In addition, the Ministry of Justice has not made any apparent effort to inspire female lawyers to obtain new licenses.

The result of the second round of the evaluation test can be accessed here.

I have interviewed two attorneys who succeeded in the last two exams under the new Taliban protocol, and below are the details they provided regarding the new testing procedures:

[…]

Question: Why do you think no female lawyers were in attendance?

Answer: There are a number of significant reasons why female lawyers are unable to attend the test. In particular, most women fear participating and practicing within the Taliban’s judicial and prosecution agencies and many are discouraged from working as lawyers in the country. Generally speaking, the Taliban’s mentality toward gender roles in education and professional life has caused women not to attend the evaluation test.

Question: What sorts of religious questions you were asked?

Answer: The test was on basic Islamic issues such as specific procedures as related court hearings, and issues like praying five times a day. Those with the greatest awareness of Islamic rules and principles seemed to have better opportunities to obtain their new law licenses.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2022/07/afghanistan-dispatch-the-talibans-new-bar-exam-procedures-and-the-notable-absence-of-new-women-attorneys/

https://www.ohchr.org/en/speeches/2022/07/afghanistan-update-human-rights-council-urgent-debate

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/07/human-rights-council-holds-urgent-debate-human-rights-women-and-girls

https://www.voanews.com/a/un-rights-council-taliban-seek-to-erase-women-girls-from-public-life-/6641743.html

https://www.nycbar.org/member-and-career-services/committees/reports-listing/reports/detail/grave-risks-for-jurists-particularly-women-and-threats-to-afghanistans-independent-legal-profession

https://www.un.org/press/en/2022/sc14946.doc.htm

https://www.raoulwallenbergcentre.org/en/news/2022-06-16

https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/articles/news/2022/06/our-help-afghanistan-s-top-female-judge-now-calls-hf-home

https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2022/06/26/lost-in-limbo-thousands-of-afghan-migrants-in-turkey-still-awaiting-help-from-the-west-including-canada-now-face-deportation.html

https://www.ibanet.org/Afghanistan-global-outcry-at-institutionalised-systemic-oppression-of-women

https://www.change.org/p/female-afghan-judges-are-at-extreme-risk-of-violence-and-need-emergency-visas-urgently (SIGN THE PETITION!)

(DARI)

https://news.un.org/fr/story/2022/07/1123012 (FRANCAIS)

https://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/le-chef-supreme-des-talibans-dit-au-monde-de-cesser-de-se-meler-des-affaires-afghanes-20220701

Joint oral statement to Human Rights Council on Belarus

28/06/22

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.

[…]

https://www.omct.org/en/resources/statements/belarus-persecution-of-dissenting-voices-continues

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/06/belarus-engulfed-fear-systematic-violations-and-impunity-persist-un-expert

https://www.euronews.com/2022/06/28/uk-belarus-politics

Iranian Court Sentences Lawyers, Activists Trying to Sue Officials to Prison

22/06/22

For trying to sue Iranian leaders for their grossly negligent response to the COVID-19 pandemic, three lawyers and two civil rights activists have been sentenced to prison.

“These individuals are being punished in order to send a message to the people of Iran: Seeking an accountable government in the Islamic Republic will land you in jail,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“This ruling reflects Iran’s judicial system, which works in lock step with the state security apparatus to crush dissent,” he added. “Iranians seeking justice are treated as enemies of the nation, while those in power who are destroying it enjoy immunity.”

revolutionary court in Tehran sentenced Mostafa Nili (lawyer) and Mehdi Mahmoudian (civil rights activist) to four years in prison each, Arash Keykhosravi (lawyer) to two years in prison, Mohammad Reza Faghihi (lawyer) to six months in prison, and Maryam Afrafaraz (civil rights activist) to 95 days in prison.

Their attorney Babak Paknia, who announced the verdicts on June 21, 2022, said they would be appealed.

The prison sentences come at a time when the government is increasingly trying to crush peaceful rights advocacy and attempts to hold officials accountable for their actions.

State forces have been violently repressing protests occurring around the country for months, while scores of activists including laborers and teachers have been detained.

Health Defenders Denied Justice, Punished as Enemies of the State

Referred to on Persian social media as the “health defenders,” the lawyers and activists had attempted to file a lawsuit against senior Iranian officials including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for banning the import of COVID-19 vaccines made by U.S. and British pharmaceutical companies for political reasons, forbidding factual numbers about the extent of deaths and infections from being publicized, and mismanaging response efforts.

[…]

https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-activists-jailed-official-covid-response/31910424.html

https://www.iranintl.com/en/202206210269

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/mustafa-nili

China: Unfair trials of prominent activists an attack of freedom of association

21/06/22

Two Chinese human rights activists are set to face grossly unfair trials behind closed doors this week after being targeted and tortured due to their peaceful work, Amnesty International said today.

Legal scholar Xu Zhiyong and human rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi will be in court this Wednesday and Thursday respectively, facing spurious charges of “subverting state power”.

“The Chinese authorities have targeted Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi not because they committed any internationally recognized crime, but simply because they hold views the government does not like. These unfair trials are an egregious attack on their human rights,” said Amnesty International’s China Campaigner Gwen Lee.

“Having faced torture and other ill-treatment during their arbitrary detention, Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi now face being sentenced to years behind bars in secretive trials that have been rigged from the start.”

Xu and Ding are both prominent members of the New Citizens’ Movement, a loose network of activists founded by Xu in 2012 to promote government transparency and expose corruption.

They were among dozens of lawyers and activists targeted after attending an informal gathering held in Xiamen, a city on China’s southeast coast, in December 2019, in which they discussed the civil society situation and current affairs in China.

Later that month, police across the country began summoning or detaining participants in the Xiamen gathering.

Tortured in a “tiger chair”

Ding was held incommunicado in “residential surveillance at a designated location” for more than a year after being taken away on 26 December 2019.

Friends of Xu Zhiyong say he went into hiding after the meeting in December 2019. In early February 2020, Xu criticized President Xi Jinping’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests and called on him to resign.

[…]

https://www.ohchr.org/en/documents/thematic-reports/ahrc5036-protection-lawyers-against-undue-interference-free-and

https://independence-judges-lawyers.org/reports/protection-of-lawyers-against-undue-interference-in-the-free-and-independent-exercise-of-the-legal-profession/ (FRANCAIS/ARABIC/CHINESE/RUSSIAN)