Tag Archives: USA

USA: Advocates in Defense of Advocates: Protection of Lawyers Facing Governmental Suppression and Interference

New York City Bar

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 | 6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. Program | 7:15 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Cocktail Reception
Program Fee: Free for City Bar Members | Free for NYSBA International Section Members and Global Law Week Attendees | $30 for Non-Members

NYSBA International Section Members and Global Law Week Attendees, please click here to register.

NY CLE Credit: 2.0 Professional Practice

The program will discuss a disturbing legal trend where lawyers face increasing pressure from their own governments to not engage in representing certain categories of people. Typically, governments will engage in retaliatory conduct such as harassment, disbarment, surveillance, and even detention, torture, and extrajudicial killing to prevent lawyers from performing their basic functions. The program panelists will discuss relevant international legal standards aimed at protecting lawyers and judges. Panelists from Europe will discuss how the EU facilitates protections to lawyers within and without the EU. Panelists will also discuss their organizations’ work representing lawyers and ongoing challenges they face during the course of that representation. Examples of existing laws which target lawyers will be provided and discussed.

Teng Biao, U.S. Asia Law Institute, New York University
Javier Benavides, Law Professor, Centro Universario Villanueva and Head of the International Section of the  Spanish Bar
Martin Flaherty, Leitner Family Professor of Law, Fordham University, and Visiting Professor of Law, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
Etienne Lesage, Lesage Avocats, Paris Bar, and Observatory for Lawyers in Danger




China/USA: How Lawyer Wang Yu Was Made to Denounce the American Bar Association’s Human Rights Award in 2016

May 9, 2018

Wang Yu taken to studio black-hooded for 2nd confession

On July 9, 2015, Wang Yu (王宇) became the first target in a campaign of mass arrests against human rights lawyers in China. Over the next roughly two weeks, over 300 rights lawyers were arrested, interrogated, detained, and threatened — thus begetting the notorious ‘709 Incident.’ After over a month in secret detention at a black site in Beijing, Wang Yu was transferred to Tianjin for a continuation of her detention, then under so-called ‘residential surveillance at a designated place’ (指定居所監視居住). For over a year she was not allowed to see her lawyer, family, or communicate with the outside world. Another 20 or so lawyers and activists, including Wang Yu’s husband Bao Longjun (包龍軍), were given similar treatment. During the secret detention and their time in detention centers, they were severely tortured, including by sleep deprivation, prolonged interrogation, forced-feeding with unidentified drugs, beatings, insults, being hand- and foot-cuffed, or having their family’s safety threatened. Some were even placed in cages submerged in water, so-called ‘water cage’ torture. Currently, three individuals are serving prison sentences, three were released on suspended sentences, and all others except one were released on a probationary form of ‘bail.’  Lawyer Wang Quanzhang (王全璋) has been detained for over 1,000 days, neither sentenced nor released, and no one even knows whether he is dead or alive.

In August 2016, Wang Yu and her husband were released on a probationary form of bail (取保候審), whereupon they were forcibly taken to an apartment building in Ulanhot, Inner Mongolia. There they were reunited with their son, Bao Zhuoxuan (包卓轩), who had previously been coercively removed from Beijing and placed in Ulanhot to continue high-school. In Ulanhot, their movements were closely monitored, they were followed wherever they went, and their apartment was fitted out with an extensive array of surveillance cameras that pointed to their doorway, stairs and in and out of the building entrance. Wang Yu believed that the apartment itself was bugged too. Around a year later they were allowed to return to their own home in Beijing. Now, though they’re apparently ‘free,’ every move they make is still surveilled by the authorities, and Wang Yu has been unable to resume her profession as a lawyer.

Among China’s human rights lawyers, Wang Yu has been called the ‘Goddess of War.’ Prior to the 709 crackdown, she traveled the country taking on all manner of human rights cases. The image of Wang the lawyer in the ‘Hooligan Sparrow’ documentary, handing out fliers about the law under the beating sun in Hainan, left a deep impression of her commitment.

On July 8, 2016, the American Bar Association announced that it had selected Wang Yu to receive its inaugural ABA International Human Rights Award, “in recognition of her dedication to human rights, justice and the rule of law in China.” This news seemed to rattle the Communist Party. The authorities knew perfectly well that the 709 crackdown was an illegal, politically motivated large-scale persecution of human rights lawyers, and that the cruelty of torture methods they used exceed what most people can conceive. They fear the moral support that the international community was extending to the targets of their attacks.

How Lawyer Wang Yu Was Made to Denounce the American Bar Association’s Human Rights Award in 2016











China/USA: Top Chinese Rights Lawyer Banned From Traveling to United States

May 4, 2018

Human rights lawyers Sui Muqing (L) and Ding Jiaxi (R), in undated photo.

Authorities in the Chinese capital have prevented a top human rights attorney from boarding a plane to the United States on “national security” grounds, RFA has learned.

Ding Jiaxi, who has previously served jail time for calling on top officials of the ruling Chinese Communist Party to reveal details of their wealth, was stopped by police at Beijing International Airport on Thursday as he tried to board a plane to visit his wife and daughter in the U.S.

Ding said he was at the departure gate on Thursday, preparing to board the aircraft, when he was approached by two unidentified officers.

“Two of them came over and announced to me that they had a notification from the Beijing police department that I was a threat to national security, and I was to be prevented from leaving the country,” Ding told RFA.

“At no point during this process did they tell me their names, nor did they show me any official ID,” he said. “They also refused to give me the notification in writing.”

Ding said he didn’t know the reason for the travel ban, as he had been able to visit his wife Luo Shengchun and the couple’s daughter in the U.S. last year.





Israel/USA: Detained and Then Deported: U.S. Human Rights Lawyers Barred from Entry into Israel

May 2, 2018

Two U.S. human rights lawyers were detained Sunday for 14 hours at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport before being deported back to the United States. Columbia University’s Katherine Franke and Center for Constitutional Rights executive director Vincent Warren were repeatedly questioned about their associations with groups critical of Israel. They were part of a delegation of American civil rights activists heading to Israel and Palestine to learn about the human rights situation and meet with local activists. They arrived back in New York City early Monday. This comes just days after Israeli soldiers shot and killed three Palestinian protesters and wounded hundreds more on Friday, when the soldiers and snipers opened fire during the Palestinians’ weekly nonviolent protest near the Gaza border. On Saturday, a fourth protester died after succumbing to his wounds. The nonviolent protests demanding the right for Palestinian refugees to return to their land began on March 30. Since then, the Israeli military has killed at least 42 Palestinians, including two journalists, and injured thousands more. For more, we speak with Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Katherine Franke, professor of law, gender and sexuality studies at Columbia University.


Israel bars human rights lawyers from the USA






Israel at 2018 UPR session denies restricting human rights defenders




https://www.dreuz.info/2018/05/03/bravo-israel-deux-gauchistes-anti-israeliens-interroges-pendant-14-heures-a-laeroport-ben-gourion-puis-expulses/ (FRANCAIS)

Egypt/USA: School of Law commencement ceremony is May 11

May 3, 2018

School of Law commencement

SIU [Southern Illinois University] men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson will deliver the keynote address during commencement ceremonies for the SIU School of Law on May 11.

The commencement ceremony for 98 graduates is at 3 p.m. in Shryock Auditorium. The graduates include two who will receive a joint J.D./Master of Business Administration degree and one who will receive a joint J.D./M.D. degree. Chancellor Carlo Montemagno will confer degrees at the ceremony led by Christopher W. Behan, School of Law acting dean.

Ceremony will also recognize Egyptian human rights lawyer

Mahienour El-Massry will be recognized with the law school’s Rule of Law citation. The citation is a formal recognition by the law school faculty of the important tradition of the legal profession that “requires lawyers to stand firm in support of liberty and justice in the face of oppression and, by their words and actions, to honor and support the Rule of Law, even at great personal risk.”

A commencement hood and scroll will be placed on an empty chair in the front row with law school faculty to symbolize lawyers who are suffering for the Rule of Law.

El-Massry is known for her work to promote judicial independence and prisoner’s rights. She has organized peaceful protests and support efforts for political prisoners and utilized social media to denounce human rights violations. In 2014, she received the “Ludovic Trerieuz Prize for her efforts to advance human rights.

Imprisoned twice in three years

In May 2015, El-Massry was convicted of assaulting security forces and sentenced to 15 months for trying to provide legal assistance to three activists who were held at an Egyptian police station.




International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2017

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The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has launched its 2017 Annual Review, providing an overview of the IBAHRI’s major activities over the year.

2017 was a difficult year for human rights: since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted 70 years ago, it appears that we are now reaching a point where the universal acceptance of human rights is being eroded. Increasingly polarised political spheres and growing support for populist governments are resulting in policies that scapegoat minorities, attack the under-represented and persecute those who oppose these governments.

In this atmosphere, protection of human rights, the rule of law and an independent legal profession are more important than ever. This makes the work of the IBAHRI more important than ever. Since its establishment in 1995, the IBAHRI has endeavoured to defend fundamental human rights through the promotion and protection of the independence of the legal profession, and by providing members of the global legal community with the tools needed to do the same.


As part of its ongoing projects in the Americas, the IBAHRI provided torture-prevention training to legal professionals, including judges and public defenders, across Brazil and Mexico. In El Salvador, the IBAHRI brought a high-level delegation of experts on the rights to justice, truth and historical memory to meet with legal professionals, the executive, armed forces, CSOs and academia with a view to achieving justice effectively and realising the rights of those who suffered human rights abuses as a result of the 12-year civil war. Additionally, the IBAHRI continued to monitor the emblematic trial of Venezuelan Judge María Lourdes Afiuni, and sent open letters to President Donald Trump of the United States, which criticised the President and his administration for actions the IBAHRI felt were ‘diametrically opposed to the defence of human rights’.

In Asia Pacific, the IBAHRI worked with the newly established Independent Lawyers’ Association of Myanmar to continue its work in the country, and has been running a trial observation programme to ensure those responsible for the death of prominent lawyer U Ko Ni are brought to justice. In Timor-Leste, the IBAHRI has consolidated its presence in the country by seeking to strengthen the legal profession and supporting the creation of its first national bar association.

The IBAHRI launched a mentorship programme for junior Azerbaijani lawyers that linked them with more experienced senior lawyers, and held a Law Student Conference in Baku, among other activities intended to advocate for the rights of legal professionals in the country. We also facilitated attendance at various OSCE Meetings for lawyers in GeorgiaKazakhstan and Tajikistan as part of the IBAHRI’s ongoing work in Europe and Central Asia.



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In Tajikistan, reforms undertaken by the Qualifications Committee set up by the Ministry of Justice drastically decreased the number of practising lawyers.

Read more about the situation of Tajik lawyers and the work the IBAHRI has done in partnership with the Tajikistan Barristers’ Union here:https://tinyurl.com/y7rhftx4

(International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute Facebook, 9/5/18)

USA/Ecuador/Canada: In New Attack, Chevron Trying to Disbar Lawyer Who Helped Win Historic $9.5 Billion Judgment After 8-Year Trial

March 1, 2018

Faced with a series of stunning legal setbacks in the world’s largest environmental case, Chevron is now trying to orchestrate what appears to be a politically-motivated disbarment of American human rights lawyer Steven Donziger after he helped indigenous and farmer communities win a $9.5 billion judgment against the company over the dumping of billions of gallons of toxic oil waste onto ancestral lands in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest.

The move comes at a time when Chevron is stepping up its attacks on the indigenous groups and their lawyers following three consecutive unanimous defeats in Canadian appellate courts – including one by Canada’s Supreme Court – in a country where the Ecuadorians are threatening to seize vital company assets to pay for their court-mandated clean-up. Just days ago, Chevron publicly attacked prominent Canadian attorney Alan Lenczner after he won the right to depose a high-level corporate official over what appear to be billions of dollars of irregular payments by the company’s Canadian subsidiary to the governments of Nigeria and Indonesia.

Chevron also recently lost an effort in the Ontario Court of Appeal to impose a $1 million costs order on the indigenous groups in an effort to prematurely end the asset seizure litigation. A three-judge panel unanimously criticized the company for trying to end-run the law rather than deal with credible allegations it had committed fraud both in Ecuador and the United States, all of which has a led to a criminal referral of the company to the U.S. Department of Justice.