Tag Archives: UN

Cameroon/Turkey/Azerbaijan: UN side event “The independence of the legal profession”

April 5, 2017


On 16 March 2017 the Law Society, making use of its ECOSOC consultative status, organised a side event with Lawyers for Lawyers on “The independence of the legal profession” at the United Nations in Geneva.

The side event was held in the margins of the 34th Human Rights Council session and was co-sponsored by the Missions of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Paraguay and Australia.

Mr Diego García-Sayán, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, appointed in December 2016, was the keynote speaker. It was Mr García-Sayán’s first public speech in that capacity. He outlined the importance of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and emphasised the principle that lawyers should be able to practise their profession independently, without fear of external interference and/or intimidation, and without being identified with their clients. Mr García-Sayán also highlighted some priority areas, which he would be exploring further during his mandate, such as corruption and the role played by non-state actors in undermining the rule of law and the independency of the judiciary.

Lawyers from Turkey, Cameroon and Azerbaijan also shared their experiences and extensively discussed the serious challenges facing the legal profession in their respective countries.


UN Side Event “The Independence of the Legal Profession”

March 16, 2017

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After my presentation, with Diego Garcia-Sayan, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers!

(source: Cameroonian Lawyer Michel Togué, Facebook)

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UN/UK/The Netherlands: UN Side Event “The Independence of the Legal Profession”

LSG logo

On 16th March 2017, the Law Society of England and Wales, in partnership with Lawyers for Lawyers, is organising a UN side event at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The side event will focus on the topic of the independence of the legal profession worldwide. Lawyers from Turkey, Cameroon, and Azerbaijan will share their experiences, obstacles faced by members of  the legal profession in their respective countries, and possible ways to improve the safety of lawyers who work in challenging contexts.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mr. Diego García-Sayán, will be the keynote speaker.

To register to this event or for more information, please find the relevant contacts in the attached leaflet.

The side event is co-sponsored by the Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.



Turkey: Lawyers demand release of U.N. judge imprisoned in Turkey

January 17, 2017

Lawyers at a U.N. court urged Turkey on Monday to release a judge who is being held in connection with July’s coup attempt, saying his detention was delaying a genocide case.

Judge Aydin Sedaf Akay has been held since September, one of tens of thousands of Turkish officials arrested in a crackdown on people and organizations after the foiled coup in which hundreds died.

Lawyers on both sides of a bid by the defense to reconsider a Rwandan politician’s conviction for genocide said Akay’s absence was holding up the case.

Turkey did not attend a hearing in The Hague on Monday about Akay’s situation and declined to make submissions on his detention, which the court views as illegal because of the diplomatic immunity he enjoys as a U.N. judge.

Turkey was a strong early backer of the international courts set up in the 1990s to try mass crimes from the Yugoslav wars and the Rwandan genocide, but it has become more unilateral under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Akay, a diplomat and long-serving international judge, had been assigned to a panel assembled to determine if new evidence showed Rwandan Augustin Ngirabatware had been wrongfully convicted of genocide and jailed for 35 years.



UN: Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers

Adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba
27 August to 7 September 1990

Whereas in the Charter of the United Nations the peoples of the world affirm, inter alia , their determination to establish conditions under which justice can be maintained, and proclaim as one of their purposes the achievement of international cooperation in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion,

Guarantees for the functioning of lawyers

16. Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

17. Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.

18. Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.

19. No court or administrative authority before whom the right to counsel is recognized shall refuse to recognize the right of a lawyer to appear before it for his or her client unless that lawyer has been disqualified in accordance with national law and practice and in conformity with these principles.

20. Lawyers shall enjoy civil and penal immunity for relevant statements made in good faith in written or oral pleadings or in their professional appearances before a court, tribunal or other legal or administrative authority.

21. It is the duty of the competent authorities to ensure lawyers access to appropriate information, files and documents in their possession or control in sufficient time to enable lawyers to provide effective legal assistance to their clients. Such access should be provided at the earliest appropriate time.

22. Governments shall recognize and respect that all communications and consultations between lawyers and their clients within their professional relationship are confidential.

Freedom of expression and association

23. Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.


http://www.ohchr.org/FR/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/RoleOfLawyers.aspx (FRANCAIS)


UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers: “States should respect and protect lawyers who promote and defend human rights defenders”

October 21, 2016

Human Rights House Foundation

The report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Judges and Lawyers will be presented to the UN General Assembly today, 21 October 2016. The report gives clear recommendations on the actions States and bar associations should take to ensure the independence of lawyers.

The Special Rapporteur recalls that “a significant number of attacks against lawyers and restrictions to the free and independent exercise of the profession” have been brought to the attention of successive Special Rapporteurs. She calls on States to “acknowledge, respect and protect the status of lawyers who promote and defend human rights defenders,” and to “adopt domestic legislation that recognises the vital and important role played by lawyers in upholding the rule of law and promoting human rights.”

Read the report of the Special Rapporteur in English or in Russian.

Florian Irminger, Head of Advocacy at Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF), commented: “Lawyers are instrumental in the protection of human rights and human rights defenders, but they face increasing threats to themselves and to their work. This report by the Special Rapporteur highlights these threats and elaborates on the need to support these lawyers. It outlines strong guarantees and immunities for lawyers working on human rights and gives clear recommendations on to implement them. States and bar associations must implement these recommendations, and the international community must ensure that they do so.”



https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/068/03/PDF/G1606803.pdf?OpenElement (ENGLISH)

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/068/04/PDF/G1606804.pdf?OpenElement (FRANCAIS)

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/068/06/PDF/G1606806.pdf?OpenElement (ESPANOL)

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/068/01/PDF/G1606801.pdf?OpenElement (ARABIC)

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/068/02/PDF/G1606802.pdf?OpenElement (CHINESE)

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/068/05/PDF/G1606805.pdf?OpenElement (RUSSIAN)

UN: Lawyers at risk meet UN Special Rapporteur in Belgrade

UNSR Consultation2

On 11-12 June 2016 the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and Human Rights House Network(HRHN) brought together human rights lawyers from across Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) for a special consultation with Monica Pinto, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers. Bringing together 50 lawyers from 16 different countries in Central Asia, the Balkans, Europe, North and South Caucasus, the discussion centred on the dangers, threats and barriers that lawyers in the region face when carrying out their professional duties.

Similar problems seem to be present across countries in the region. Lawyers exchanged stories of arbitrary detentions, disbarment, lack of access to clients, restrictive legislation, threats and even attacks.

Speaking at the event in Belgrade, the UN Special Rapporteur pointed out that this is something she had seen around the world, ‘There is a common pattern that less democratic the government is, the less rule of law you have in the country and the more problems lawyers will have to face. It is true that putting obstacles to lawyers who are dealing with very sensitive cases, [or] extremely political cases, is a common pattern all over the world.’

But Ms Pinto also recognised, that the EECA region appears to have a particularly serious problem.