Archive for the 'L4L' Category

Lawyers key to the rule of law – even China agrees but only lip service

June 26, 2019

Lawyers have an essential role in upholding the Constitution and realising the rule of law – at the Human Rights Council 41st session this week, even China agreed. So why does the Chinese government continue to harass, intimidate and persecute lawyers who defend human rights ask 4 NGOs on 25 June 2019: Lawyers for Lawyers, International Bar Association, International Service for Human Rights and Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada. In a joint statement the NGOs call on the UN expert on independence of judges and lawyers, and the Council and its members, to press for accountability.

‘The Chinese delegation recognised the need for balance in regulation between lawyers’ and judges’ rights, on the one hand, and their professional responsibilities, on the other hand’, says Sarah M Brooks, Asia Advocate at ISHR. ‘But it is hard to take this claim seriously, as Chinese authorities continue to adopt  abusive laws and measures, using them as a “sledgehammer” to restrict fundamental freedoms’.

This includes in particular lawyer Jiang Tianyong, who – since his nominal release from prison on 28 February 2019 – has been subject to invasive surveillance, restrictions on his freedom of movement, and refusal of independent medical exams. Worse, he is unnecessarily and inhumanely kept from joining his family in the U.S. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/11/21/jiang-tianyong-chinese-defender-of-defenders-sentenced-to-2-years-jail/]

The statement draws on research conducted by Chinese Human Rights Defenders and other partners into two ‘administrative measures’ that have had far-reaching consequences for lawyers on the ground.  The Measures on the Administration of Law Firms and Administrative Measures for the Practice of Law by Lawyers of Law Firms call on lawyers, law firms and regional bar associations not only to take measures to ensure that lawyers’ freedom of speech, both online and off, in professional and personal capacities, is not critical of the government. Furthermore, language added to one of the measures in 2018 specifically states that  ‘Law firms shall adhere to guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, adhere to and strengthen the comprehensive leadership of the Party over the work of lawyers, persist in preserving the authority and uniform leadership of the Party with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core, make support for the Party’s leadership and support for socialist rule of law basic requirements for the profession, and increase the conscientiousness and resoluteness with which lawyers as a group walk the path of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics’.

As a result of making comments that were deemed critical of the Chinese Communist Party, from January 2017 to January 2019, groups have documented cases of at least 26 lawyers and three law firms that have been punished for their opinion or expression, or by association with lawyers. This includes well-known rights lawyers such as Yu Wensheng, Wang Yu, Xie Yanyi and, just last week, Liu Xiaoyuan. 

[for the massive crackdown in 2015, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/07/29/the-remarkable-crackdown-on-lawyers-in-china-in-july-2015/]

 

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Full statement

Joint statement under Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers and the Independent Expert on SOGI

24 June 2019

Mr. Vice President,

We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report. We wish to highlight that many of the trends of restriction he notes also apply to lawyers. For example, across China, repression of human rights lawyers and legal activists continues. They are disappeared, detained, and denied basic rule of law guarantees.

Lawyer Jiang Tianyong is one example. Although he served his sentence for ‘inciting subversion of the State’, he now lives under constant police surveillance and with a serious medical condition.

What was his so-called ‘crime’? Representing fellow lawyers in court, investigating black jails, speaking out for victims of human rights violations and meeting with UN officials.

Mr Special Rapporteur, we are concerned about Chinese government actions to imprison and disbar lawyers who do not adhere to official ideology. The Chinese delegation raised earlier the need to uphold the Constitution – we couldn’t agree more. But problematic regulations passed in 2016 allow authorities to, inter alia, shut down law firms if they refuse to dismiss lawyers who express critical views, or who advocate for clients or causes unpopular with the Communist Party of China.

China’s claims to ‘faithfully uphold the rule of law’ are true only in relation to national laws created to authorize such government action. Chairman Xi has stressed the Communist Party’s control over the legal system, and has used the law to repress and punish those mandated to uphold and protect rights.

Yu Wensheng, Sui Muqing, Zhou Shifeng, Xie Yanyi, Li Heping, Wang Yu, Liu Zhengqing and Liu Xiaoyuan are only 8 out of at least 27 documented cases of human rights lawyers whose licenses have been invalidated or revoked since 2016, simply for fulfilling their professional duties.

In her UPR follow-up letter to the government, the High Commissioner identified key areas for improvement, including ‘guaranteeing an independent judiciary, fair trials, and access to legal counsel, releasing all human rights defenders, including lawyers’.

We call on you, Mr Special Rapporteur, and on this Council, to insist that China immediately stop all forms of harassment and persecution of human rights lawyers, including through administrative means, and unconditionally release those arbitrarily deprived of their liberty.

Thank you.

China’s freedom of expression subject of side event on 13 March

March 4, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

In November 2018, China underwent its Universal Periodic Review and received many recommendations on freedom of expression, both online and off. This side event will elevate the views of civil society actors who are committed to seeing improvements in the protection of freedom of expression in China.

13 March 2019 , 13h30-14h30, in Room XXIII, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Panelists:

  • Judith Lichtenberg, Director of Lawyers for Lawyers
  • A 1989 democracy activist
  • Uyghur PEN representative
  • Steven Butler, Asia Program Coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Sarah M Brooks, Asia Advocate, International Service for Human Rights.

Event co-organised by:

Download the event flyer

For some of my earlier posts re China: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/china/

Join the conversation on Twitter: #ChinaUPR

https://mailchi.mp/ishr/749qlxejj6-32025?e=d1945ebb90

Independence of the Legal Profession subject of side event on 16 March 2017

March 9, 2017

Lawyers for Lawyers and The Law Society of England & Wales organize a UN side event on the “The Independence of the Legal Profession” on Thursday 16 March 2017, 3 – 5 pm in Room XXIII of the Palais des Nations, Geneva.

Keynote speaker: Diego García-Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

 

Panelists:

·        Khalid Baghirov, lawyer (Azerbaijan)

·        Ayse Bingol Demir, lawyer (Turkey) [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/01/23/persecution-of-lawyers-and-journalists-in-turkey-side-event-in-geneva-on-27-january/]

·         Michel Togué, lawyer (Cameroon) [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/02/13/death-threats-against-human-rights-defenders-alice-nkom-and-michel-togue-in-cameroon/]

The panelists 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 event is co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Australia and Paraguay as well as the following NGOs: – Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC),- Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA), – Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC), – International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), – Avocats Sans Frontières Suisse (ASF Switzerland), – International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), – Judges for Judges (J4J), – Human Rights House Foundation and- Peace Brigades International (PBI, UK)

To register (for those without passes, until 12 March 2017): S.deGraaf@lawyersforlawyers.nl

For enquiriesRoberta.Taveri@lawsociety.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Nominations L4L Award 2017 now welcome until 15 February

January 30, 2017

L4L logoNomination for the 2017 Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) Award can be submitted until 15 February 2017.
The Lawyers for Lawyers Award will be presented for the fourth time in Amsterdam on 19 May 2017. An independent jury, chaired by mrs. Heikelien Verrijn Stuart, will decide which lawyer will receive the award. The prize will consist of a special token as well as a monetary element of € 10.000. This award is presented every two years to a lawyer who promotes the rule of law and human rights in an exceptional way, who has been threatened or obstructed because of his or her work as a lawyer, and who may benefit from the publicity and recognition of the Award.

Anyone can submit a nomination, but a lawyer or group of lawyers cannot nominate themselves. Lawyers from all over the world can be nominated.

Only those nominations submitted via the nomination form on the website will be taken into consideration. The nomination form is available here : Nomination form L4L Award 2017 Lawyers for Lawyers

See for 2015: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/05/15/jorge-molano-from-colombia-laureate-of-2015-lawyers-for-lawyers-award/

 

Human rights lawyers and indigenous people in the Philippines endangered

January 24, 2015

Human rights lawyers and their clients stage a picket at the Supreme Court to mark the ‘Day of the Endangered Lawyer’ (photo courtesy of NUPL)

Human rights lawyers in the Philippines on Friday 23 January 2015 protested publicly against the growing death toll within their ranks as they marked the “Day of the Endangered Lawyer” by trooping to the Supreme Court. The protest spearheaded by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers [NUPL] and joined by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines was joined by lawyers’ and support groups that staged pickets or held dialogues at Philippine embassies and consulates in 23 cities in 11 European countries.

Figures show that, since attacks on legal professionals began being recorded in 1977, “100 lawyers have been attacked (57 since 2001) while 50 lawyers have been killed (41 since 2001).” “Nineteen judges have been murdered, 18 since 2001”

Government must simply do its job: protect its citizens, categorically condemn these attacks on lawyers as human rights defenders; seriously and credibly investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators; and uphold human rights because the attacks on lawyers is not only an attack on the individual lawyer, it is an attack on the legal profession, and most fundamentally — in the context of the targeted assaults on human rights and public interest lawyers — an attack itself on the rights and interests of the mostly poor and oppressed in our country” 

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/103685/a-deadly-profession–human-rights-lawyers-count-the-costs-on-day-of-the-endangered-lawyer

A petition <http://www.advocatenvooradvocaten.nl/wp-content/uploads/Petition-Day-of-Endangerd-Lawyer-2015.pdf> signed by lawyers organizations from Asia, Canada Europe and the United States  calls on the Aquino government  to prevent extrajudicial killings and all forms of harassment of lawyers and to end impunity by prosecuting perpetrators of rights violations. The petition also calls on the Aquino government  to protect the safety of lawyers as provided for in the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1990.  Underlying causes for extrajudicial killings. The practice of labeling (classifying victims as ‘enemies of the state’), the involvement of the military in politics, the proliferation of private armies and vigilante groups and the culture of impunity have been identified by national and international fact-finding bodies as the main root causes for the alarming rate of extrajudicial killings, including the extrajudicial killings of lawyers, in the Philippines.

Away from the capital human rights violations against indigenous people and their human rights defenders also continue as demonstrated in 2 film documentaries:

Gikan sa Ngitngit nga Kinailadman” (From the Dark Depths) records grave rights violations using interviews and recollections of the survivors and witnesses. The cases featured in the film remains unresolved; the perpetrators waiting for the next human rights defender to hunt. The film shows the atrocities of the military and paramilitary troops, including the armed agents of the agro-industrial corporations in the hinterlands of Mindanao.

-The first case presented in the film is the assassination of Gilbert Paborada—a Higaonon farmer in Bagocboc, Opol, Misamis Oriental. Daisy Paborada, the wife of Gilbert, and Joseph Paborada, his brother, reiterates how the struggle of their community against the entry of palm oil plantations of A Brown Company led to Gilbert’s death.

-The film also shows interviews about the harassment of the Lumad community in Opol as they suffer from the goons of A Brown Company. The harassments and intimidation breed the culture of fear and terror among the people who opt to protect their ancestral domain vis-à-vis the environment over money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTO taken during the shooting of “Gikan sa Ngitngit nga Kinailadman” in the mountains of Pantaron in Bukidnon. (RMP-NMR)

Dalena is also the director of Alingawngaw ng mga Punglo (Echo of Bullets) that exposed the criminal acts of the military under the infamous General Jovito Palparan, also known as ‘The Butcher.’ Palparan now is in jail, facing allegations of murder against human rights defenders.

Sr. Maria Famita Somogod, regional coordinator of Rmp-Nmr, said the film highlights political repression. The spate of human rights violations featured in the film is the reaction of the government to quell the legitimate dissent of the lumads against the entry of agro-industrial corporations in their ancestral domain. Somogod said the dissent of the lumads and farmers is legitimate. Their demands are to protect their ancestral domain against the encroachment of foreign corporations in the hinterlands. “Instead of seeds, bullets. Instead of food, bombs. Instead of peace, forcible evacuation. Instead of life, death,” Somogod said, adding this is what the ordinary lumads and farmers get for protecting the land of promise.

In the words of the author Anjo Bacarisas, in Sunstar of 25 January: at the end of the film one asks: How should we stop this appalling cruelty against the lumads and farmers?

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cagayan-de-oro/feature/2015/01/25/underbelly-land-promise-388461

Persecution of Lawyers and Journalists in Turkey: side event in Geneva on 27 January

January 23, 2015

L4L logo Lawyers for Lawyers, the Law Society of England and Wales,  Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, Privacy International, Fair Trial Watch and Media Legal Defence Initiative organise  a panel discussion on the “Persecution of Lawyers and Journalists in Turkey” on Tuesday, 27 January, in Geneva, Immediately after the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Turkey,

 At this event fundamental rights of lawyers and journalists that are regularly being violated will be discussed, including freedom of expression, privacy, confidentiality between lawyers and their clients and the protection of sources by journalists. This event comes at a time when the rule of law in Turkey is under serious threat.

[Turkey has adopted new laws and judicial reform packages, allowing for even more internet censorship, data collection, surveillance and the censoring of critical views on the pretence of protecting national security, which are directly undermining the freedom of expression, but also other fundamental rights such as privacy. In particular, journalists and lawyers are negatively impacted. They are subject to surveillance and legal harassment. The last couple of years large groups of lawyers and journalists have been arrested on the suspicion of terrorism related offences. Lawyers face stigmatisation by being continuously identified with their clients’ causes. Journalists are accused of not being independent. For both groups it is hard, if not impossible, to work freely, independently and securely.]

Speakers:

Ayse Bingol – Lawyer from Turkey

Tayfun Ertan – Journalist from Turkey

Marietje Schaake (by Skype) – Member European Parliament

Alexandrine Pirlot de Corbion – Privacy International

Tony Fisher – The Law Society of England and Whales

Moderator:  Irma van den Berg – Turkey expert of Lawyers for Lawyers

The event takes place from 12h45 – 14h30 in Room XXIII, Palais des Nations. Those wishing to attend, send email – before 23 January – to : bp[at]lawyersforlawyers.nl

Turkey 27 January in Geneva; side-event Persecution of Lawyers and Journalists in Turkey Lawyers for Lawyers.

Lawyers for Lawyers raises the alarm: Filipino lawyers at risk

April 24, 2014

 

Cathy Salucon, Philippines via L4L

Cathy Salucon, Philippines via L4L

On 23 April 2014 Amsterdam-based Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) warn in an open letter to President Aquino of the Philippines for the continued labeling of lawyers as enemies of the state by the military. Since March, Atty. Maria Catherine L. Dannug-Salucon has been the subject of death threats, labeling, surveillance and verbal intimidation by military officers. Mrs Dannug-Salucon is reportedly on the Filipino military’s Watch List of so-called ‘Communist Terrorist’ supporters providing legal services.  She has also been under the surveillance of the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces. The surveillance is particularly worrisome in view of the killing – reportedly by members of the Intelligence Services – on 25 March 2014 of Mr. William Bugatti, a human rights defender who was also working as a paralegal for Atty. Dannug-Salucon.
Read the rest of this entry »

Lawyers for Lawyers object to false charges against peoples’ lawyers in the Philippines

August 1, 2013

 Yesterday I had a post “Philippines Chief Human Rights Defender, Rosales, asked to resign for ‘incompetence’”. In reaction I received from Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) an update on the continued pressure on ‘opposition lawyers’ who are labeled as “enemies of the state”.  L4L logoThe Dutch foundation Lawyers for Lawyers warns in an open letter to Read the rest of this entry »

Lawyers for Lawyers campaigns for forgotten Iranian human rights defender Houtan Kian

June 12, 2013

Whilst attention within Iran, as well as abroad, is focused on the upcoming presidential elections, Read the rest of this entry »

Russian HRD Magamed Abubakarov to receive Lawyers for Lawyers Award 2013

May 21, 2013

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(Magamed Abubakarov)

Magamed Abubakarov, a Russian human rights lawyer specialized in terrorist cases in the North-Caucasus, will receive the Lawyers for Lawyers Award 2013. Magamed Abubakarov will accept the award on 31 May at the end of a seminar called ‘Lawyers controlled, independence at stake?’ in Amsterdam. Read the rest of this entry »