Tag Archives: UN Human Rights Council

Crackdown On Lawyers Brings To Collapse Iran’s Judicial System

14/11/22

Iranian authorities have responded to the ongoing wave of nationwide protests by arresting thousands of people who peacefully took to the streets to demand more freedoms, in the biggest threat to the clerical regime since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Human rights groups have voiced alarm over the arbitrary arrest, detention and ill treatment of ordinary citizens, students, journalists, civil society members, as well as political, cultural and sports figures who have been rounded up and jailed in the brutal state crackdown.

A number of them have already been tried and handed harsh sentences without being allowed access to a legal representative. Some have been extracted confessions through the use of torture.

Lawyers, who play a vital role in upholding the rule of law and protecting human rights, have also been targeted by a wave of arrests, and at least 13 of them are remanded behind bars.

Hossein Raeesi, a lawyer and professor at Canada’s Carleton University, tells IranWire that these arrests are the last nail in the coffin of Iran’s judicial system and justice.

“When there is a lawyer, the true story comes out. So, the Islamic Republic does not want a judiciary that is independent from the government. It also wants lawyers to be under the thumb of the regime so that it can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants.”

Raeesi points out that the more than 14,000 people who have been arrested in the crackdown by security forces over the past eight weeks have been denied a legal representative.

“There are more than 100,000 lawyers in Iran, but they have not been allowed to represent any of [the detainees]. Seen from this angle, the arrest of lawyers holds special significance.”

An “atmosphere of terror”

Another lawyer, Musa Barzin Khalifelou, says that security and intelligence forces “want to create an atmosphere of terror so that the lawyers would not touch [the cases of those recently detained], talk about them or join the nationwide uprising of the Iranian people.”

The hostile treatment of lawyers is not new in Iran, where Khalifelou says the judiciary’s main task is to protect the country’s rulers, not to uphold justice.

[…]

https://iranwire.com/en/politics/109818-crackdown-on-lawyers-brings-to-collapse-irans-judicial-system/

https://www.france24.com/en/middle-east/20221113-iran-charges-more-than-750-over-riots-issues-first-death-sentence

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/11/iran-stop-sentencing-peaceful-protesters-death-say-un-experts

https://www.uianet.org/en/actions/uia-irol-gravely-concerned-arrest-detention-and-prosecution-lawyers-iran

https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/uk-news/2022/11/14/twelve-swedish-iranians-issue-open-letter-in-wake-up-call-over-iranian-harassment/

https://www.asianews.it/news-en/Iran-jailing-lawyers%2C-even-those-defending-Christian-converts-57063.html

https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-lawyer-arrested-nili-protests-crackdown/32121020.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/11/12/iran-protests-mahsa-amini-courts/

https://www.iranintl.com/en/202211131182

https://www.jurist.org/news/2022/11/iran-court-issues-first-death-penalty-for-protestor-arrested-during-nationwide-mahsa-amini-protests/

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/news/least-22-protestors-may-face-death-penalty-iran

The Philippines: Complaint on killings of lawyers, prosecutors, judges filed with UN to hold PH ‘accountable’

10/11/22

A complaint to hold the Philippine government accountable for the attacks and killings of lawyers, prosecutors and judges has been filed before the United Nations (UN).

The complaint was filed by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) before the office of UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges Margaret Satterthwaite in Geneva, Switzerland.

NUPL is a member of the of the Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Watch.

Incidentally, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla will leave for Geneva on Friday, Nov. 11, to lead the Philippine delegation for the 4th Cycle of the UPR of the Philippines, a preview mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

The UPR is “a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States.”

In its complaint, the NUPL cited that it has “recorded 86 killings of lawyers, judges and prosecutors among a total of 262 work-related attacks in the past 15 years.”

“Five of the victims of killings were NUPL members whose clients include indigenous peoples, peasants, farmers, workers, environment advocates, political prisoners and human rights defenders,” it said.

[…]

https://www.philstar.com/nation/2022/11/04/2221337/aguirre-denies-forcing-ragos-testify-vs-de-lima

https://www.philstar.com/nation/2022/10/29/2220009/ragos-says-he-was-forced-testify-vs-de-lima

The Philippines: Coming soon: Judiciary marshals to probe into killings of judges

26/10/22

The Supreme Court (SC) is forming the Office of the Judiciary Marshals (OJM), to be activated in the first quarter of 2023, to investigate the unsolved killings of judges over more than 20 years.  

In April 2022, Republic Act No. 11691 – the Judiciary Marshals Act – became law, meant to address attacks on and other crimes against judiciary members, and court personnel and properties. A brainchild of former chief magistrate Diosdado Peralta, it borrows the concept of the marshal system in the United States. 

“Once we are able to create…and once we already have investigators, we will have these killings looked into,” SC Associate Justice Jose Midas Marquez said at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay on Wednesday, October 26. 

“Right now, I think we have around 33 or 34 judges killed while in service,” he added. “We will request the judiciary marshals to review all the cases of these judges because we cannot just let this go unresolved.”

Of these killings, only 1 in 10 has been resolved, according to Marquez. In some of the cases, the masterminds have yet to be charged or are still at large. 

Marquez said the SC is looking for a lawyer, retired ranking police and military officer, or former National Bureau of Investigation investigator to become chief marshal. 

[…]

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/10/05/philippines-un-rights-body-fails-act

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2022/10/05/2214463/lack-ph-human-rights-resolution-reflects-poorly-un-states-hrw-says

https://thediplomat.com/2022/10/the-duterte-years-were-especially-deadly-for-philippine-lawyers/

Iranian lawyers must be released immediately

17/10/22

The Law Society of England and Wales, together with Lawyers for Lawyers, calls on the Iranian government to halt the arbitrary arrest, detention and ill treatment of lawyers, who play a vital role in upholding the rule of law and protecting human rights.

Nationwide protests in Iran began on 16 September, when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in a hospital in Tehran after being arrested by the Guidance Patrol (also known as the morality police) for wearing an “improper hijab.”

Protesters are being arrested and detained in their thousands without being allowed access to a legal representative.

Lawyers themselves are being violently arrested, transported to prisons, and ill-treated.

The Law Society is especially concerned about the welfare of a number of lawyers.

Law Society president Lubna Shuja said: “Some of these lawyers are being held in solitary confinement, at notorious prison wards known for incidents of torture, or their whereabouts are unknown.

“No charges have been brought or published against them and they have had no access to a lawyer or visits from relatives.

“Access to a legal representative is a right established in Iranian law, as well as international law, and has to be respected and guaranteed.”

The arrest and detention of these lawyers are the latest incidents in the continuing crackdown on lawyers. Over the last five years, Iranian authorities have prosecuted, convicted and detained many, including lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, for their peaceful opposition to compulsory hijab laws.

[…]

https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/contact-or-visit-us/press-office/press-releases/iranian-lawyers-must-be-released-immediately

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/iran-law-society-calls-for-halt-in-lawyer-detentions/5113986.article

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/iran-evin-prison-fire-americans-protests-mahsa-amini-death/

https://www.ibanet.org/Iran-Security-forces-violent-suppression-of-protests-same-as-in-2019-says-IBAHRI

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

28/09/22

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://iranwire.com/en/politics/108037-jailed-lawyers-warn-irans-government-of-dark-horizon-ahead/

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/news/night-raids-iran-target-activists-journalists-lawyers

https://humanrightsinir.org/en/the-number-of-arrested-lawyers-in-tehran-increases/

https://humanrightsinir.org/en/tag/mahsa-gholamalizadeh/

https://humanrightsinir.org/en/tag/saeed-jalilian/

https://www.omct.org/en/resources/statements/iran-appeals-by-five-human-rights-defenders-convicted-for-denouncing-covid-19-mismanagement-rejected

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

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-briefing-notes/2022/09/concern-grows-over-violence-internet-restrictions-iran

https://reliefweb.int/report/world/human-rights-council-concludes-general-debate-human-rights-situations-require-councils-attention

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

https://iranwire.com/fa/news-1/107920-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%A8%DA%A9-%D9%BE%D8%A7%DA%A9%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%A7-%D9%88%DA%A9%DB%8C%D9%84-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF%DA%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B2%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%AA-%D8%B4%D8%AF/

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)

https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/fil-dactualites/230922/droits-humains-un-avocat-iranien-emprisonne-prime-par-ses-pairs-europeens

https://www.gazette-du-palais.fr/actualites-professionnelles/le-prix-ludovic-trarieux-remis-a-lavocate-afghane-freshta-karimi-a-bordeaux/

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