Tag Archives: United Nations

Hong Kong: Arrests under security law are serious concern, UN experts call for review 

12/10/21

Hong Kong, Chine. Le 05septembre 2021. Les vice-présidentes de l'Alliance  de Hong Kong pour le soutien des mouvements démocratiques patriotiques de  Chine Chow Hang-Tung ont publiquement rejeté la demande d'information de la

UN human rights experts* expressed deep concern about the arrest of Hong Kong pro-democracy activist and woman human rights defender Chow Hang-Tung on charges of “incitement to subversion” and being a foreign agent, and urged authorities to refrain from the use of the National Security Law and reconsider its application.

Ms. Chow, a human rights lawyer, was arrested on 8 September 2021. She was a member of the Hong Kong Alliance, an advocacy group which organised the annual candlelight vigil marking the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square. Several other activists have been similarly arrested and charged under the National Security Law.

“Terrorism and sedition charges are being improperly used to stifle the exercise of fundamental rights, which are protected under international law, including freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to participate in public affairs,” the experts said.

The experts have communicated in detailed written analysis their concerns to the Government of the People’s Republic of China about the National Security Law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region highlighting the law’s fundamental incompatibility with international law and with China’s human rights obligations.

The experts also raised their concerns over the qualification of “foreign agent” under the National Security Law, in which reference is made to funding received from foreign governments and activities benefitting them. The experts called on the Government to ensure that associations can seek, receive and use funding from foreign or international sources, without undue impediments.

[…]

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1102882

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/chow-hang-tung

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chow_Hang-tung

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/artist-10132021122322.html

https://www.rfi.fr/cn/%E4%B8%AD%E5%9B%BD/20211012-%E8%81%94%E5%90%88%E5%9B%BD%E4%BA%BA%E6%9D%83%E4%B8%93%E5%AE%B6%E5%AF%B9%E9%A6%99%E6%B8%AF%E6%A0%B9%E6%8D%AE%E5%9B%BD%E5%AE%89%E6%B3%95%E5%AE%9E%E6%96%BD%E9%80%AE%E6%8D%95%E8%A1%A8%E8%BE%BE%E5%85%B3%E5%88%87 (CHINESE)

https://www.notimerica.com/politica/noticia-china-onu-pide-hong-kong-reconsidere-ley-seguridad-nacional-20211013075949.html (ESPANOL)

Venezuela: Intimidation and threat of arrest against rights lawyers Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas and Engels Puertas

12/10/21

On 6 October 2021, a judge and a prosecutor of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Criminal Judicial Circuit of the state of Merida in Venezuela threatened to order the arrest of human rights lawyers Engels Puertas and Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas, accusing them of defamation. The threat was made in the middle of a trial in which Engels Puertas and Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas were acting as legal representatives on the defence team.

Engels Puertas is a lawyer and human rights defender. For more than six years he has been defending people who have been incriminated in unjust criminal proceedings. Engels is also a member of the legal team in the organisation 100% Estrogen, where he works on cases with a gender perspective. He also directs the organisation Iniciativa Para Una Justicia Igualitaria, where he works alongside lawyer and human rights defender Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas, who has been litigating in defence of human rights, specifically in favour of the right to a legitimate defence of victims and the right to due process of their defendants.

Human rights lawyers Engels Puertas and Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas are part of the defence team of the case of 2 individuals who were arbitrarily detained and allegedly tortured in prison. The case has been ongoing for over 5 years. On 6 October 2021, when the case was being heard before the Criminal Judicial Circuit of the state of Merida, Engels Puertas and Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas were threatened by the prosecutor one day after they recused and denounced the judge presiding over the case in the Venezuelan General Inspectorate of Courts for alleged violations of due process. The judge in question declared the accusations by the human rights defenders inadmissible and threatened to file a complaint against them in order to remove them from the case and inhibit their work as defence lawyers. The judge, while deciding to continue the trial and ignoring the complaint against him, has appointed other public lawyers to represent the defendants, ignoring their appeal to continue with their lawyers.

[…]

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/intimidation-and-threat-arrest-against-human-rights-lawyers-juan-carlos-barroeta-rivas-and

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/09/1100122

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/es/case/intimidation-and-threat-arrest-against-human-rights-lawyers-juan-carlos-barroeta-rivas-and (ESPANOL)

Advocacy charter Hungary

07/10/21

Advocacy charter Hungary

Lawyers for Lawyers, together with the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), submitted an advocacy charter to several country delegations to draw attention to the situation of lawyers in Hungary with regard to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Hungary. In March 2021, Lawyers for Lawyers and the IBAHRI submitted a report for the UPR of Hungary.

In the report, Lawyers for Lawyers and the IBAHRI have expressed their concern about the independence of the legal profession, legislative initiatives by the Hungarian government, and the public rhetoric against lawyers and judges.

Lawyers for Lawyers and the IBAHRI have expressed their concern about the independence of the legal profession, legislation and legislative initiatives impacting the judicial independence, and the public rhetoric against lawyers and judges. With adoption of the so-called “Stop Soros” legislation of 2018, the Hungarian government has restricted the rights of lawyers to carry out their professional duties independently and curtained their freedom of association by criminalizing the legal assistance provided by the immigration lawyers and legal NGOs to undocumented migrants.

Moreover, the Hungarian government adopted a new law in 2019 that targets the independence of the judicial system by granting the possibility to public authorities to file a constitutional complaint with the Constitutional Court instead of passing through the ordinary court system. As the independence of the Constitutional Court has been seriously undermined by the governing majority, the Court has been reluctant to hold authorities accountable for their wrongful acts. Moreover, through this new law Constitutional Court judges after their retirement could almost automatically become judges of the Hungarian Supreme Court. This would allow the ruling majority, which currently needs two-third majority in Parliament to elect Constitutional Court justices, to indirectly select and have so-called ‘loyal judges’ at the Supreme Court as well. This might have a direct effect on further eroding impartiality principle.

Lastly, according to our information, media sources have been widely used in Hungary to target, discredit, and demonize lawyers and judges that criticize the government, and uphold human rights. Herewith, the public rhetoric portrays lawyers as the enemies of the Hungarian state as well as defenders of terrorists and criminals.

https://www.upr-info.org/en/review/Hungary

USA: Florida man pleads guilty to threatening to kill Derek Chauvin’s lawyer

08/10/21

Image: Derek Chauvin court video grab

A Florida man who threatened to kill the lawyer who defended former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty, prosecutors said Thursday.

The man, William John Hartnett, 42, of Coral Gables, made the threats in a phone call to the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association on April 6 as Chauvin was on trial for the murder of George Floyd, officials said.

Hartnett called the organization, which funded Chauvin’s defense, and left a message that said in part: “you and your whole f—ing family are going to f—ing die … for representing Chauvin,” according to a criminal complaint.

Hartnett told investigators he was trying to reach Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, according to court documents.

Chauvin was convicted of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on April 20 for killing Floyd, a Black man, in May 2020.

Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9½ minutes, sparking outrage and protests across the country and around the world.

Hartnett pleaded guilty Wednesday to a count of transmitting a threat through interstate communications, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida said.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Hartnett is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 15.

[…]

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/florida-man-pleads-guilty-threatening-kill-derek-chauvin-s-lawyer-n1281086

https://www.thedailybeast.com/william-john-hartnett-admits-threatening-to-kill-chauvins-lawyer-for-representing-fcking-murderer

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The Philippines: Supreme Court vows to address murder of lawyers

29/08/21

Gunshots from a treacherous assassin felled long-time human rights lawyer Rex Jesus Mario A. Fernandez and seriously wounded his driver in Cebu City on 26 August 2021.

The masked gunman stealthily approached and shot Fernandez with a .45 caliber pistol as Fernandez’s vehicle slowed down at a busy junction along Salvador Street, Sitio Banawa, Barangay Guadalupe, at around 4:10 pm. After the shooting, the killer fled on board a motorcycle driven by a co-conspirator.

Fernandez, 64, died on the spot from multiple gunshot wounds.

His ambush slay, which was caught on video, came in the heels of a growing number of killings of lawyers and human rights defenders.

Per the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ count, Fernandez’s murder is the 64th recorded killing of lawyers that happened under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

Supreme Court

The unabated killing of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers has prompted the Supreme Court to act.

In a statement dated 27 August 2021, the highest court condoled with Fernandez’s family and friends.

Expressing concern over Fernandez’s ambush-slay, the court remarked: “The killing of any lawyer is of serious concern to all of us.”

“Violence,” stressed Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, “solves nothing.”

“It is anathema to the rule of law.”

The court, Leonen said, continues “to sift through and analyze the voluminous records and reports submitted to us upon our call to discern whether there are patterns in the killing of lawyers and threats to judges so that we can evaluate a strategic response”.

The court “will welcome new reports to be submitted by the police and by other organizations” involving Fernandez’s death, Leonen added, as he urged “law enforcement authorities, and human rights and other groups” to submit their own “findings by the end of September at the latest.”

The highest judicial body’s Committee on Human Rights that he chairs, Leonen vowed, “will be submitting our report and recommendations for the action of the Court En Banc.

[…]

https://www.pressenza.com/2021/08/supreme-court-vows-to-address-murder-of-lawyers/

https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1905483/Cebu/Local-News/PJ-Garcia-files-bill-protecting-lawyers

https://mb.com.ph/2021/08/29/ibp-cebu-chapter-seeks-swift-probe-on-aug-26-lawyer-killing-in-cebu-city/?amp

https://www.un.org/en/observances/victims-enforced-disappearance

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Azerbaijan: Submission to UN Human Rights Committee

18/08/21

Azerbaijan: Submission to UN Human Rights Committee

In the fall of 2021, the UN Human Rights Committee will review Azerbaijan’s compliance with its international human rights obligations, and more in particular the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Lawyers for Lawyers has taken the opportunity to file a submission on the list of issues prior to reporting to inform the Committee about the situation of lawyers in Azerbaijan.

The submission highlights four main issues: harassment and criminal prosecution of lawyers, disbarment and other disciplinary measures on improper grounds, access to a lawyer, and violations of freedom of expression of lawyers.

Lawyers for Lawyers has long been concerned about attempts to harass and disrupt the work of lawyers who work on cases that engage human rights or represent persons perceived to be critics of the Azerbaijani authorities and have been targeted solely because they are carrying out their professional activities.

We have reported on the cases of multiple lawyers who have faced administrative harassment on improper grounds. The use of disciplinary measures by the Azerbaijani Bar Association (ABA) to retaliate against lawyers for their human rights or professional activities has been a problem for years.

Furthermore, we are concerned about the low number of lawyers in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has among the lowest number of lawyers for every 100,000 in habitants compared to other European countries. This is due to a change in legislation in 2017, which excluded lawyers from representing individuals in criminal cases who were not a member of the ABA. Since 2018, the number of lawyers who are members of the ABA has increased, but still the number of lawyers in Azerbaijan is not sufficient to ensure everyone’s right of access to an independent lawyer of their own choice.

[…]

UK: Help Afghan lawyers escape ‘perilous future’ under Taliban rule, urge legal groups

17/08/21

A group of professional legal bodies have urged the UK government to help lawyers trapped in Afghanistan.

In a joint statement, the Law Society, Bar Council and Bar Human Rights Committee call on the government to offer asylum to female judges and other legal professionals in Afghanistan.

They are “gravely concerned” about the situation in Afghanistan and the fate of all those working in the country’s justice system who now face “a perilous future” under Taliban rule.

“We are extremely worried about the situation of at least 250 women judges in the country who we consider to be at particular risk,” the group said. “We urge the UK government not to abandon these courageous defenders of the rule of law and — in liaison with its international allies — to offer evacuation and safety and asylum in the UK to those women judges, their families, and other members of the legal profession who are in serious danger.”

The International Association of Women Judges yesterday raised concerns about their colleagues in Afghanistan, “given the special role they have played and are still playing, in upholding the rule of law and human rights for all, and the particular dangers they face as a result”. The group fear for their safety due to the nature of their work and the past rulings they have made in criminal, anti-corruption and family courts.

[…]

https://www.cba.org/News-Media/Press-Releases/2021/August/Statement-by-CBA-President-on-the-Situation-in-Afg?lang=en-ca

https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/29051

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/08/afghanistan-dispatches-i-personally-think-law-major-is-no-more-a-field-of-study-for-students-particularly-women/

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-merkel-warns-western-countries-must-offer-aid-to-afghans-fleeing/

https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/103053/afghanistan-joint-statement-international-community-latest-developments_en

https://www.avocatparis.org/afghanistan-le-barreau-de-paris-appelle-levacuation-des-civils-risque-pour-garantir-leur-protection (FRANCAIS)

https://www.cba.org/News-Media/Press-Releases/2021/August/Statement-by-CBA-President-on-the-Situation-in-Afg?lang=fr-ca

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Sri Lanka: LAWYER DETAINED WITHOUT TRIAL FOR OVER A YEAR

14/07/21

Amnesty International South Asia on Twitter

URGENT ACTION

Hejaaz Hizbullah, a prominent Sri Lankan lawyer, was arrested on 14 April 2020 and has since been detained on trumped-up charges under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Hejaaz Hizbullah has been targeted for his work, and his advocacy for the rights of Muslim minorities in the country. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released and all charges against him dropped.


TAKE ACTION: WRITE AN APPEAL IN YOUR OWN WORDS OR USE THIS MODEL LETTER


Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam
Attorney General’s Department
Hulftsdorp Street,
Colombo 12
Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 112 436421
Email: administration@attorneygeneral.gov.lk
secretary@attorneygeneral.gov.lk


Dear Attorney General,


I am deeply concerned about the prolonged detention of Sri Lankan lawyer and minority and civic rights activist Hejaaz Hizbullah. Detained since 14 April 2020 on trumped-up charges under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), no credible evidence of wrongdoing has yet been presented before a court.


It is distressing to learn that, since his arrest, Hejaaz Hizbullah has been repeatedly denied due process safeguards recognized by international law. He has been held in prolonged administrative detention without judicial oversight to monitor his wellbeing, without access to bail. While in police custody he was prevented from accessing his legal counsel in private until an order was made by the Court of Appeal. Even following his indictment in February 2021 and being moved to judicial remand, access to family and counsel has been restricted.

[…]

https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa37/4468/2021/en/

https://www.ft.lk/news/A-call-to-action-against-detention-of-Hejaaz-and-Ahnaf-anti-Muslim-violence-and-attacks-on-democracy/56-720382

https://www.ft.lk/news/Chevening-Alumni-Association-SL-condemns-arbitrary-arrest-and-detention-of-Hejaaz-Hizbullah/56-720256

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/06/10/european-parliament-alarmed-over-sri-lankas-rights-situation

https://monitor.civicus.org/updates/2021/07/13/despite-un-concerns-sri-lanka-continues-detain-critics-arrest-protesters-and-entrench-impunity/

Call For Tajikistan To Release Human Rights Lawyer Ahead Of 50th Birthday Behind Bars

08/07/21

Buzurgmehr Yorov, a Tajikistani human rights lawyer (Photo supplied)

On 9 July 2021, Buzurgmehr Yorov, a Tajikistani human rights lawyer and outspoken critic of the government, will mark his 50th birthday behind bars. Yorov was wrongfully imprisoned in September 2015 and sentenced to 22 years on trumped-up charges. Ahead of this milestone birthday, human rights organisations CIVICUS and the International Partnership of Human Rights (IPHR) call for his immediate and unconditional release.

In 2015, Buzurgmehr was arrested after representing members and leaders of the banned opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRTP). Following his arrest, he was interrogated for ten hours and allegedly beaten. He was then detained for eight months before his trial began – during this time he was physically abused and held in solitary confinement on many occasions.  

In a series of closed and unfair trials held between October 2016 and August 2017, the human rights lawyer was convicted on various charges, including overthrowing the government, inciting unrest, and insulting the President and government officials. Although his sentence was reduced by six years in November 2019 to mark the 25th anniversary of Tajikistan’s constitution, he is currently being held in the Strict Regime Prison Colony No.1 in Dushanbe.

In May 2019, the UN Human Rights Council concluded that Buzurgmehr’s arbitrary detention is against international law, and it called on the Tajikistan authorities to release him immediately. 

[…]

https://www.eurasiareview.com/08072021-call-for-tajikistan-to-release-human-rights-lawyer-ahead-of-50th-birthday-behind-bars/

https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/media-releases/5167-tajikistan-release-human-rights-lawyer-ahead-of-50th-birthday-behind-bars

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

The Philippines: IBP, NBI ink cooperation agreement to protect lawyers vs threats

30/06/21

IBP, NBI ink cooperation agreement to protect lawyers vs threats

The National Bureau of Investigation and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines inked a deal last week to extend assistance to, and protect, members of the Judiciary who experience threats and harassment.

The NBI, in a statement, said its OIC-Director Eric Distor and IBP president Domingo Egon Cayosa signed a Memorandum of Agreement to strengthen coordination and communication between the agency and the IBP’s chapter organizations.

The IBP is the national organization for Philippine lawyers.

The bureau said both parties agreed to maintain direct lines between their leaderships for faster coordination and to help prevent attacks on lawyers. The agreement also covers data sharing between the NBI and IBP.

This comes nearly three months since the IBP and the Philippine National Police signed a separate MOA to address attacks on members of the legal profession. Under the agreement, the PNP will help lawyers enhance their skills and knowledge in protecting themselves through proper use of firearms.

In its accord with the NBI, the bureau “will provide timely assistance to lawyers, prosecutors and magistrates in distress and extend appropriate security and protection in cases of threats or hazards in the performance of their duties and functions as may be allowed by law and regulations.”

The NBI will also expedite and prioritize probes into incidents or cases of violence against members of the legal profession.

[…]

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2021/06/30/2109184/ibp-nbi-ink-cooperation-agreement-protect-lawyers-vs-threats

https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/793322/nbi-ibp-sign-agreement-on-protection-of-lawyers/story/

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2021/07/02/2109731/eleazar-seeks-guidance-supreme-court-justices-use-body-cam-police-ops

https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/06/28/21/duterte-ibp-nupl-protest-lawyers-killings

https://reliefweb.int/report/world/human-rights-council-starts-dialogue-special-rapporteur-peaceful-assembly-and

https://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/biglaw/31766-aba-international-legal-groups-condemn-philippines-government-as-victims-of-lawyer-targeted-killings-rise-to-record-levels

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltaire_Y._Rosales