Posts Tagged ‘human rights lawyers’

What kind of lawyers will attend the ‘Global Lawyers Forum’ in Guangzhou on Human Rights Day?

December 5, 2019

Lawyer Wang Yu is taken to a studio for TV denunciation of the ABA award. Pictorial rendition is based on Wang Yu’s account. Source: Safeguard Defenders.

The government has invited, according to its official website,more than 600 important international guests from governments, judicial departments, financial circles, international lawyers’ associations, other bar associations and well-known law firms, etc.”………to uphold the rule of law spirit of building a community of shared future for humanity, create an international platform for lawyers from all countries for exchange and cooperation, further consolidate the consensus of the international legal profession, etc…

We know that since July 2015, Chinese human rights lawyers have been suppressed on a large scale [ see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/07/29/the-remarkable-crackdown-on-lawyers-in-china-in-july-2015/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/06/26/lawyers-key-to-the-rule-of-law-even-china-agrees-but-only-lip-service/]. To this day, many lawyers, including Wang Quanzhang [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/05/li-wenzu-wife-of-wang-quanzhang-wins-2018-edelstam-award/], Zhou Shifeng, Yu Wensheng, Chen Wuquan, Chen Jiahong, Qin Yongpei, and others are in prison. Lawyer Gao Zhisheng disappeared on August 13, 2017, and his whereabouts still are unknown. Lawyer Jiang Tianyong, who was released from prison earlier this year, has since been under illegal house arrest [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/11/21/jiang-tianyong-chinese-defender-of-defenders-sentenced-to-2-years-jail/].

China Change asked a number of Chinese human rights lawyers to express their views on this “Global Lawyers Forum”. Here a selection:

“…..If the purpose of the conference, as the government claims, is to “consolidate the international consensus of the lawyers’ profession,” what then is the consensus of the legal profession? It is the UN’s “Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.” Domestic law should be amended on the basis of these principles.  (Liu Shuqing, Jinan, deprived of his lawyer’s license in 2016)

This rhetoric can be deceptive domestically and internationally, giving those who don’t know the true nature of the CCP and the reality on the ground the wrong impression that China has rule of law, so much so that it is a world leader in the area.” (Jiang Tianyong, Beijing, 709 detainee, and still under house arrest since his release at the end of February 2019.)

Lawyer Jiang Tianyong

“I think it is a ridiculous thing for China to host such an event. As everyone knows, the Chinese government has always opposed constitutional democracy and the rule of law. It disregards human rights and blatantly infringes upon every right of the people. Such a conference is only a cover-up for the CCP.”   (A lawyer who wishes to remain anonymous)

“The All China Lawyers’ Association (ACLA) is the same as the Chinese government; it is a part of the government. ACLA contributes little to defending human rights in China, and more often than not it is an accomplice in suppressing human rights. Such a country holding such a conference and urging lawyers from all over the world ‘to jointly promote the rule of law around the world’ –– how could anyone believe this? How could anyone attend and support such a meeting? Are the participants burying their heads in the sand or just being ignorant?” (Liang Xiaojun, Beijing)

“Nearly without exception, any Chinese lawyer who has participated in any international exchange meeting, including meetings with Hong Kong and Taiwanese lawyers, has been interrogated and threatened by China’s national security agents or domestic security police after they returned home to the mainland. In such a ‘police state,’ how can there be normal international exchanges?” (Chen Jiangang, Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow 2019, who fled China in the summer after being threatened with “disappearance” by a director of Beijing’s Judicial Bureau)

“The choice to hold the ‘Global Lawyers Forum’ in Guangzhou is ironic in light of the purpose of the gathering. The retrogression of the legal system in China over the past decade, and the persecution of lawyers who dare to speak out, has reached a shocking point. And the crackdown and persecution of lawyers in Guangzhou is the most severe in the country. Therefore, the selection of Guangzhou for the ‘Global Lawyers Forum’ is an affront to the spirit of rule of law.” (Liu Zhengqing, Guangzhou, license revoked in 2019)

“I really am not inclined to criticize any lawyers or officials who will attend the conference. I just want them to be clear-headed when they are in China. What they will see is definitely not all of China, or even the most important part. If they aren’t hoodwinked and if they observe the Chinese legal profession with clear eyes, a greater number of ordinary Chinese lawyers may have heartfelt admiration for them.” (Wen Donghai, Changsha)

“I hope attendees from foreign bar associations won’t just listen to the officials’ big empty words and propaganda but pay more attention to the actual human rights situation in China. I hope they learn more about religious groups, ethnic minorities, dissidents and human rights activists. These groups have suffered cruel persecution in China; I hope the foreign attendees will speak on their behalf at the conference and raise questions.” (An anonymous Beijing lawyer)

“I hope the participants can hear the voices of lawyers not sanctioned by the CCP government, and especially look into the real reasons for the revocation of so many lawyers’ licenses.” (Liu Zhengqing, Guangzhou)

…….

 

 

China Has Invited 600 International Lawyers and Judicial Officials to its ‘Global Lawyers Forum,’ But These Chinese Lawyers Won’t Be Welcome

Four jailed Iranian human rights lawyers win European Bar award

November 29, 2019

IRAN -- Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is seen in Tehran on November 1, 2008.

Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is seen in Tehran on 1 November 2008.

The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) has bestowed its annual Human Rights Award to four lawyers from Iran: Nasrin Sotoudeh, Addolfattah Soltani, Mohammad Najafi and Amir Salar Davodi. Shirin Ebadi will receive the award on behalf of the jailed lawyers from CCBE President José De Freitas.

The CCBE is a professional organization that represents Law Societies from 45 different countries and over one million lawyers. Previous recipients of the award include Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) and Azerbaijani human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev. For more on this and other awards for lawyers see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/ccbe-human-rights-award

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a human rights defender who has been in prison since summer of 2018 for her peaceful activities defending women’s rights to choose their dress style. Although there is no written law in Iran for compulsory hijab, the police and courts spend considerable resources to force women to use the veil. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/06/13/1-million-people-demand-that-iranian-government-release-nasrin-sotoudeh/]

Abdolfattah Soltani who co-founded the Defenders Of Human Rights Center along with his colleagues, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and others served as the attorney defending the family of Iranian-Canadian photo journalist Zahra Kazemi. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/11/22/iranian-human-rights-defender-abdolfattah-soltani-released-from-jail/

Mohammad Najafi performed various human rights related work and defended protestors who were arrested during a mass uprising in early 2018.

Amirsalar Davoudi was sentenced to 30 years in prison, 111 lashses and substantial monetary fine for his work. One of the charges included “collaborating with the enemy sate” which was brought against Davoudi for doing an interview with the Voice of America’s Persian section.

A statement from the CCBE urges Iran “to take all the necessary measures to release these four human rights lawyers and to guarantee that all lawyers in the Islamic Republic of Iran are able to perform their professional duties without fear of reprisal, hindrance, intimidation or harassment.

https://en.radiofarda.com/a/jailed-iranian-lawyers-win-human-rights-award/30297336.html

2019 Ludovic Trarieux International Human Rights Award goes to Rommel Durán Castellanos of Colombia

October 22, 2019

On 27 May 2019, the Jury of the 24th Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize chose the Colombian lawyer Rommel Durán Castellanos, President of the Equipo Jurídico Pueblos (EJP), as the recipient of the 2019 Prize. The Prize will be officially presented to Mr. Durán Castellanos on 8 November 8 at 5 p.m. at the Salle D of the European Convention Center Luxembourg – ECCL. For further information please contact: uiacentre@uianet.org.

Image result for ludovic human rights award

About the Ludovic Trarieux Human Rights Award and for some 15 other awards for lawyers, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/ludovic-trarieux-international-human-rights-prize

Rommel Durán Castellanos, 33 years old, is a human rights lawyer and a the president of the ‘Pueblos’ Legal Team (Equipo Juridico Pueblos) and a volunteer with the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP), in Bucaramanga, in the northern Cesar Department, as well as a member of the Santander branch of the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners. Since 2007, Rommel Durán has been defending marginalized communities and victims of human rights abuses and carrying out grassroots training workshops on human rights and protection mechanisms. In particular, he provides legal assistance to victims of violations in rural areas, where forcibly displaced small-scale producers are attempting to return to their lands, and victims of such crimes as enforced disappearance, torture and killings, perpetrated by State agents and paramilitary groups.
Rommel Durán faces very serious threats to his life due to his work as a lawyer and has first-hand experience of the violence that he seeks to challenge through his work. He is subject to harassment, including to a campaign of threats, attacks and stigmatization because of his work accompanying small-scale farming communities who are claiming the restitution of their lands under the Colombian Victims and Land Restitution Law.
In his work as a member of the ‘Pueblos’ Legal Team, Rommel Durán supports members of the Pitalito community who maintain that they have been forced, at gunpoint, to sell their land at unfairly low prices. Alongside the Directing Committee of the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE), Rommel Durán accompanied those members of the community who have returned to their lands and has provided them with legal advice and protection during the difficulties they have encountered since their return.
Apart from being stigmatized and falsely (criminally) accused, assumedly by those who have ‘purchased’ the land, the returning members of the community and their (legal) supporters, including Rommel Durán, have also been shot at by armed men during an incident in December 2013 while attempting to verify the state of the community’s crops.
On 9 August 2014, Rommel Durán was arrested in the village Curumaní and detained in poor conditions. The only information given by these policemen at the time was that there was a warrant for alleged conspiracy. However they did not state which judicial office issued the order. His cell phone was snatched from him; he was filmed and photographed illegally and was prevented from calling his own lawyer. He was released after being detained for 20 hours on 10 August. The issue of this certificate suggests that there is no intention holding to account those responsible for Rommel Durán’s arbitrary detention.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/11/does-g7-set-a-precedent-with-sotoudeh-for-inviting-human-rights-defenders/

and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/05/28/jailed-human-rights-lawyer-in-uae-awarded-the-2017-ludovic-trarieux-award/

 

In Tajikistan lawyers have to be human rights defenders

September 29, 2019

In June, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared the detention of Buzurgmehr Yorov a violation of international law.
In June, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared the detention of Buzurgmehr Yorov a violation of international law.

For more than five years now, lawyers’ ranks have been thinned as the Tajik authorities imposed new rules to disbar lawyers and, in some cases, brought criminal cases against lawyers who defended political opponents. According to RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, known locally as Ozodi, there are only around 850 lawyers in Tajikistan, a country of more than 9 million people. Yorov’s situation is one of the best-known. He had taken on clients who were almost surely targeted by the government. In 2015, Tajik authorities withdrew the registration of and then banned the country’s leading opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), then later declared it an extremist group and claimed it was behind what the government said was a coup attempt. There is scant evidence to support the claim of an attempted coup and even less evidence connecting the IRPT to the purported coup’s alleged mastermind, who was killed by Tajik security forces. More than a dozen senior IRPT leaders were detained at the end of September 2015. Yorov said he would defend them in court, meeting with one of them on September 26. Two days later, he said publicly that his client was being tortured; shortly after that, Yorov was himself taken into custody.

In October 2016, Yorov and fellow rights lawyer Nuriddin Makhamov were found guilty of fraud and inciting national, racial, local, or religious hatred. Yorov was sentenced to 23 years in prison, but additional time was added to his sentence in two successive trials. At one of those trials, Yorov was given two extra years for contempt of court for quoting 11th-century poet Ibn Avicenna.*

On September 18, the Association of Central Asian Migrants announced Yorov was being given the first Fayziniso Vohidova award. The prize is named after a rights lawyer who died earlier this year. Yorov’s brother, Jamshed, accepted the award on his behalf. Buzurgmehr Yorov has since been shortlisted for the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, whose winner should be announced on September 30. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/08/29/ilham-tohti-one-of-the-finalists-for-the-vaclav-havel-human-rights-prize/]

A September 10 statement by the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists expressed concern about the Tajik Anti-Corruption Agency’s “acts of intimidation” against a group of lawyers. The statement mentions Abdulaziz Abdurahmonzoda, a member of the independent Lawyers Union of Tajikistan.

Abdurahmonzoda is being charged with fraud. Prosecutors allege that he demanded a $500 bribe from a man named Saidmurod Saidov, who came seeking Abdurahmonzoda’s legal services.

Abdulaziz Abdurahmonzoda
Abdulaziz Abdurahmonzoda

According to the International Commission of Jurists, “Following the initiation of the inquiry of the allegations of ill-treatment, the head of the Anti-Corruption Agency of Dushanbe allegedly sent requests to a number of district courts of Dushanbe to obtain information about civil and criminal cases in which Saidbek Nuriddinov had participated as a lawyer.” Saidbek Nuriddinov is the chairman of the Lawyers Union of Tajikistan.

In 2013, Yorov, Fakhriddin Zokirov, Ishoq Tabarov, and Shukrat Kudratov were the defense attorneys for Zayd Saidov, a successful and former minister of industry who suddenly faced charges ranging from financial crimes to sexual relations with a minor and polygamy, after he declared earlier in the year that he planned to establish a new political party. In December 2013, Saidov was found guilty and sentenced to 26 years in prison (three more years were added in a later trial).

In June, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared the detention of Buzurgmehr Yorov a violation of international law. Rights groups including Human Rights Watch, Freedom Now, and Lawyers for Lawyers have repeatedly called for an end to the crackdown on lawyers in Tajikistan and the release of those who have been imprisoned.

https://www.rferl.org/a/finally-a-defense-of-tajikistan-s-lawyers/30185435.html

European Lawyers in Lesvos awarded Pax Christi Peace Prize 2019

August 14, 2019

Pax Christi International honoured the European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL) as the recipient of the 2019 Pax Christi International Peace Prize at a ceremony held in Brussels on Wednesday evening, 26 June.

The prize was accepted by “European Lawyers in Lesvos” (ELIL’s) managing director, Philip Worthington, who delivered a speech on the work of ELIL and their efforts to protect the human rights of migrants and refugees in crisis. The evening began with a speech highlighting the centrality of recognising the human dignity of every person by Bishop Kevin Dowling (Rustenburg, South Africa), Co-President of Pax Christi International. His speech was followed by his counterpart, Ms Marie Dennis, Co-President of Pax Christi International, addressing the importance of the refugee crisis to Pax Christi sections and member organisations around the world and how we are inspired by the work of ELIL. Ms. Greet Vanaerschot, Pax Christi International’s Secretary General, presented the award to Mr Worthington. Attendees were treated to musical interludes by recording artist Zem. A reception followed the one-hour ceremony.

One of the very few providers of legal assistance on the Greek island of Lesvos (also known as Lesbos, a focal point of mass immigration into Europe), ELIL was founded in June 2016 by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and the German Bar Association (DAV). Since that time, along with a small permanent staff, almost 150 volunteer asylum lawyers from 17 countries have provided free legal assistance to more than 9,000 people, most of whom are from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. ELIL is the largest provider of legal assistance to asylum seekers on Lesvos and is the primary provider of legal assistance to unaccompanied minors who have been incorrectly registered as adults (over 500 cases in total) and asylum seekers in detention (almost 200 cases in total). In addition to other services, ELIL also helps reunite families by assisting with family reunification applications under the Dublin Regulation.

Established in 1988, the Pax Christi International Peace Award is funded by the Cardinal Bernardus Alfrink Peace Fund and honours contemporary individuals and organisations who make a stand for peace, justice and nonviolence in different parts of the world. For text and videos of the speeches, photos of the ceremony & more, please click HERE.

Read more about European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL): www.europeanlawyersinlesvos.eu

NGOs come out in support of India’s Lawyers Collective

June 27, 2019

UPDATE 11 July: https://www.news18.com/news/india/cbi-raids-senior-lawyers-indira-jaising-anand-grovers-home-offices-for-violating-foreign-funding-norms-2225819.html
On 26 June 2019, a group of 10 major NGOs issued a joint statement to the Indian Government that it should withdraw criminal charges against the NGO ‘Lawyers Collective’ and its representatives.They strongly condemn the filing of criminal charges against Indian NGO ‘Lawyers Collective’, its President, Senior Advocate Anand Grover, and other representatives. Criminal charges were filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on June 13, 2019, relying on an investigation report of January 2016 of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The MHA report has been challenged by Lawyers Collective in January 2017 and the case is under consideration by the High Court of Bombay.Lawyers Collective is a human rights organisation based in New Delhi with its registered office in Mumbai and was founded by noted Indian human rights defenders and lawyers Ms Indira Jaising and Mr Anand Grover. Ms Jaising and Mr Grover are senior advocates with an exceptional profile of public service, probity and personal and professional integrity as lawyers and as human rights defenders. Ms Jaising was an Additional Solicitor General of India between 2009 and 2014, and was also a member of the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) between 2009 and 2012. Mr Grover held the mandate of UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health between 2008 and 2014. Ms Jaising and Mr Grover, through Lawyers Collective, have advocated for advancing the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalised sections of Indian society, thereby upholding constitutional values as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

Lawyers Collective’s registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) was first suspended on May 31, 2016, and its bank accounts frozen. The FCRA license was not renewed on October 28, 2016, and was cancelled on November 27, 2016. Lawyers Collective petitioned the High Court of Bombay to challenge the FCRA cancellation and non-renewal in January 2017 and March 2017, respectively. In January 2017, its domestic accounts were unfrozen. Lawyers Collective’s challenge to the FCRA cancellation and non-renewal are currently pending before the High Court.

Filing of criminal charges while the matter is under consideration by the High Court is a blatant misuse of its agencies by the Indian Government to target critical human rights work undertaken by Lawyers Collective and its representatives, often involving sensitive cases against Indian ministers and senior officials of the ruling political party.

On May 15, 2019, the MHA wrote to CBI for ‘further investigation as per law’ into the matter relating to Lawyers Collective. On June 13, 2019, the CBI solely relying on the impugned MHA report registered a First Information Report under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) relating to charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, false statement made in declaration and various sections under the FCRA and Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act 1988. Given that there has been no change in circumstances since 2016 and also no material or evidential basis to support the provisions invoked under the IPC and PC Act, the filing of criminal charges is a blatant act of reprisal against Lawyers Collective and its representatives.

Such actions by the Indian Government are contrary to its pledge at the UN Human Rights Council and its obligations and commitments under several international human rights treaties and declarations. The FCRA has been time and again criticised by human rights defenders and NGOs within and outside India for its regressive and unfair interference in the functioning of organisations. Indian human rights defenders have condemned the use of FCRA and the accusations of “foreign funding” to quash dissent and smear individuals and groups.

In his analysis of the FCRA in 2016, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Assembly and Association Maina Kiai concluded that certain provisions of FCRA were not in conformity with international human rights law and noted that “access to resources, including foreign funding, is a fundamental part of the right to freedom of association under international law, standards, and principles, and more particularly part of forming an association”. In June 2016 Kiai joined the UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders calling on the Government of India to repeal the regressive FCRA, which was being used to “silence organisations involved in advocating civil, political, economic, social, environmental or cultural priorities, which may differ from those backed by the Government.”

We strongly call upon the Indian Government to cease misusing the country’s laws, including the FCRA, against human rights defenders. In the specific case of Lawyers Collective, we urge the criminal charges be immediately withdrawn pending the decision of the High Court of Bombay. We appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India to take cognizance of this matter and take immediate actions under the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 (PHRA) and to undertake a legal review of the FCRA under Section 12 (d) of the PHRA.

We further call upon the Indian Government to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Lawyers Collective and Mr Anand Grover, as well as against all human rights defenders in India and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance.

Signatory organizations:

Amnesty International
CIVICUS
Forum Asia
Front Line Defenders
Human Rights Defenders Alert
Human Rights Watch
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

——————————————————-

Pamela Philipose in The Wire gives a more detailed report: Backstory: Shrinking Spaces Need Expanding of Awareness; First they come for the human rights activists, and then they come for the defenders of human rights activists…

The filing by the CBI of a criminal case against the Lawyers Collective, a prominent legal resource organisation with a national and international reputation, has a significance that goes beyond the hounding of two prominent legal personalities, Indira Jaising and Anand Grover (‘After CBI Files FIR, Lawyers Collective Calls It an Attack on Free Speech’, June 18). It may well be a foretaste of what the new government has in store for those who stand up against state repression, or seek to expose malfeasance within the political, corporate and personal spaces.

The message could not have been clearer: the crackdowns that we witnessed in the first tenure of the Modi government – from the cancellation of registrations of hundreds of thousands of civil rights organisations to the incarceration under a draconian law of those supposedly linked to the Bhima Koregaon violence through elaborate police chargesheets – could manifest themselves with redoubled force during the second.

Also Read: After CBI Files FIR, Lawyers Collective Calls It an Attack on Free Speech

Significantly, this attempt to silence Jaising and Grover comes at a time when the independence of the judiciary is under tremendous strain from an executive seeking to bend the bench to its will (‘Centre’s Refusal to Elevate Justice Kureshi Raises Troubling Questions’, June 21). We have already seen a whistle blower police officer, critical of Narendra Modi, getting life imprisonment in Gujarat (‘Sanjiv Bhatt Case: In 16 Years, Gujarat Saw 180 Custodial Deaths – and Zero Convictions‘, June 21). The Gujarat dimension is conspicuous in all these instances, but there have been others like a rapper being hauled up for ‘sedition’ for her social media posts (‘Rapper Hard Kaur Charged With Sedition for Posts Against Adityanath, Bhagwat’, June 20) and journalists being thrown into Adityanath’s jails like hardened criminals (‘Editorial: The Yogi as Commissar‘, June 11).

Taken together, these recent occurrences may seem disparate in nature but point in the direction of an increasingly repressive state. This move to crush Lawyers Collective, when taken together with the arrest of the human rights defenders implicated in the Bhima Koregoan case, seems powered by a drive to wipe out human rights activism in the country.

Just a cursory look at the numerous petitions expressing outrage over the CBI move indicates the broad swathe of human rights Lawyers Collective has been involved in. Jaising and Grover have contributed significantly to changing the architecture of law and justice delivery in this country.

A petition from People’s Union of Civil Liberties, unequivocally condemned the move as a “brazen abuse of the process of law”, and noted that the organisation had “taken up important cases throughout the 38 years of their existence. In a separate statement, women activists recalled how “Indira Jaising, since the 1980s, has unwaveringly stood by the Constitution’s Fundamental Rights”, whether involving herself in the changes made to rape laws in 1983, securing inheritance rights for women as in the Mary Roy case, securing guardianship for single women in the Githa Hariharan case, battling sexual harassment in the Rupan Deol Bajaj case and campaigning for the formulation and enactment of the Domestic Violence Act.

Anand Grover and Indira Jaising.

It also applauded the battle Anand Grover has waged for over for two decades on behalf of the LGBTQI+ community in 2001 when a Public Interest Litigation was filed against Section 377 (IPC) and the way he “represented the Cancer Patients Aid Association and individuals against the patenting and pricing of drugs”, playing a key role in the formulation of The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017.

LGBTQI+ citizens, groups, collectives, and organisations iterated that the Lawyers Collective has been central to “the very story of the movement against Section 377 of the IPC”; while the Bebaak Collective, representing a large section of Muslim women, underlined the fact that the “two most significant legal cases in recent times” involved the Lawyers Collective articulating the intrinsic rights of Muslim women in the triple talaq and female genital mutilation cases.

These petitions – and there were many others emerging from bodies of international human rights activists to national and international intellectuals – indicate that there is rising alarm over the way political elites in India are seeking to consolidate themselves through the capture and control of the institutions of power. But these petitions also indicate that information, such as the life’s work of Jaising and Grover, is not known beyond small professional and activist groups. Consequently, the dynamic to defend such work also remains confined to these circles.

This must change. The Jaising-Grover legacy needs to be taken to a new generation of Indians who may be unfamiliar with cases fought aeons ago, but needs to realise that their everyday rights have got strengthened because of stalwarts such as them. It is precisely in times of shrinking spaces that the attempt to build popular awareness on human rights and their defenders should take place.

The media has a major role in achieving this and that is why pieces such as ‘Documenting Anand Grover, Indira Jaising’s Fight for Human Rights Over the Years’ (June 20), are valuable. The point to remind ourselves as journalists is this: in many profound ways, the work of both journalists and lawyers, while having separate pathways, are both concerned with the investigation; argumentation on, and exposure of, wrong doing; and the delivery of justice. This makes it incumbent upon the media to closely follow the Lawyers Collective issue in the days and months ahead, because of the tremendous consequence it holds for justice delivery and human rights in India.

national human rights commission, nhrc, cbi, fcra, Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, fcra violations, india news, Indian ExpressNHRC said it had made it clear in the past that matters relating to FCRA violations are outside its purview.

The direction came on complaints filed by Henri Tiphagne, a human rights activist associated with Human Rights Defenders’ Alert and Maja Daruwala, Senior Advisor of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

https://thewire.in/media/backstory-shrinking-spaces-need-expanding-of-awareness

Express News Service

Call for nominations for the L4L award 2019

January 14, 2019

The Lawyers for Lawyers Award aims to honor lawyers who have made significant contributions to the protection of the rule of law and human rights in challenging environments. Former laureates include Alec Muchadehama from Zimbabwe [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2011/04/18/alec-muchadehama-zimbabwean-human-rights-defender-honored-in-amsterdam/], Magamed Abubakarov from the Russian Federation [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/05/21/russian-hrd-magamed-abubakarov-to-receive-lawyers-for-lawyers-award-2013/], Jorge Molano from Colombia [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/05/15/jorge-molano-from-colombia-laureate-of-2015-lawyers-for-lawyers-award/] and Sirikan Charoensiri from Thailand [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/24/lifetime-achievements-in-human-rights-4-human-rights-defenders]/.

The Lawyers for Lawyers Award will be presented for the fifth time in Amsterdam in May 2019. For more information on this and other awards for human rights lawyers, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/lawyers-for-lawyers. An independent jury, chaired by mrs. Heikelien Verrijn Stuart, decides which lawyer will receive the award. The closing date for submission of nominations is 1 March 2019.

NOMINATE NOW!

China: Weiquanwang’s annual report details more than 800 political prisoners in 2018

January 2, 2019

And for those interested in China there is a good wrap up in a piece of 31 December 2018 by Radio Free Asia. It refers to the Weiquanwang rights website which published its annual report detailing more than 800 political prisoners in China. [for some of my other posts on China: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/china/]

The same article details other cases such as:

Authorities in Guangdong have handed down a two-year jail term to anti-censorship campaigner Zhen Jianghua after finding him guilty of subversion. He was tried in secret in Guangdong’s Zhuhai city on Aug. 10, and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment after the court found him guilty of “incitement to subvert state power,” his former defense attorney Ren Quanniu told RFA. “Given the particular circumstances of the case, two years is quite a harsh sentence,” Ren said. “They could have given him a suspended sentence for this, but this is probably because he refused to cooperate and plead guilty.” Zhen had registered a website overseas to elude ruling Chinese Communist Party censorship, and offered information about censorship, and circumvention tools for accessing the internet beyond the complex system of blocks, filters, and human censorship that make up China’s Great Firewall. [According to Frontline Defenders, Zhen had also worked as a technical consultant with Human Rights Campaign in China, as an advising expert with Chinese Wikipedia, and as a project officer of a HIV/AIDS prevention education project in Zhuhai, run by the Hong Kong AIDS Foundation.]

The tally also included Deng Yaoqiong, a woman incarcerated in a psychiatric facility in the central province of Hunan after she live-streamed video of herself splashing ink on a poster of President Xi Jinping. Dong Yaoqiong was sent for “compulsory treatment” after she streamed live video of herself splashing ink on a poster of President Xi in Shanghai, in protest at “authoritarian tyranny” on July 4. She is being held as a psychiatric patient in a women’s ward in Hunan’s Zhuzhou No. 3 Hospital. Her father Dong Jianbiao and Beijing artist-activist Hua Yong were also detained when they spoke out about her detention. Beijing artist Guo Zi said Hua Yong is now in contact with the outside world after his detention, but that nothing has been heard from Dong Yaoqiong or her father. “It’s nearly 2019 now, and it’s a great tragedy that there is still no legal framework being implemented for the freedom of speech … nearly 20 years into the 21st century,” he said.

Another political prisoner, veteran democracy activist Wang Bingzhang, has warned that his life is in danger in prison, where he is serving a life sentence for “espionage” in the southern province of Guangdong. Wang made the comments to his daughter, who visited him on Christmas Day. “In particular, he said that if he met with an unfortunate end, it wouldn’t be from health or physical problems, because his health was OK.

Patrick Poon, China researcher for Amnesty International, said the mass incarceration of Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in the northwestern region of Xinjiang has been a major concern during 2018. The authorities have also stepped up a nationwide crackdown on religious believers, shutting down churches and mosques and detaining anyone who resists. “Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Hui Muslims, and other Muslim minorities have been persecuted to a high degree, and we have heard reports of torture and inhumane treatment,” Poon said. Meanwhile, a crackdown on human rights lawyers and associated activists begun in July 2015 continues to widen, while political prisoners are denied a fair trial in Chinese courts. “The Chinese government should stop all of this persecution, and respond to concern from the international community by releasing all political prisoners,“. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/01/15/today-ilham-tohti-completes-his-fourth-year-in-chinese-detention/]

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/prisoners-12312018133354.html  (as reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA’s Cantonese Service, and by Liu Fei for the Mandarin Service; translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie))

Li Wenzu – wife of Wang Quanzhang – wins 2018 Edelstam award

December 5, 2018

On 27 November, 2018 Li Wenzu, Chinese ‘709’ campaigner won the Edelstam human rights award [see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/edelstam-prize]

Li is barred from leaving the country, so at Tuesday night’s ceremony, the organisers could only air a recorded video message from Li and present the award on Li’s behalf to Yuan Weijing, wife of the exiled and blind Chinese legal campaigner Chen Guangcheng. It was the first time the Edelstam Prize, named after Swedish diplomat Harald Edelstam, was awarded to a Chinese person.
Li Wenzu is the wife of detained human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang. She was barred from  leaving China after her high-profile 170km march from Beijing to Tianjin in April, when she petitioned to visit the husband she has not seen since his arrest in the summer of 2015. Wang, now 42, was among the 300 lawyers and legal activists taken by the Chinese government during a crackdown that began on July 9, 2015. Critics said the campaign was an effort to silence China’s human rights defenders. In the aftermath of what became known as the “709” crackdown, Li and other spouses of detainees formed a support group and began campaigning for their release. [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/07/29/the-remarkable-crackdown-on-lawyers-in-china-in-july-2015/]

When I heard the news of the award, I was nervous because I felt that in China there were so many people who worked hard for the 709 case, and their achievements were far greater than mine. Everything that I’ve done is just what I should do. I don’t deserve this award. So thanks to everyone for the encouragement and recognition,” Li said on Wednesday. “Every 709 family is now facing problems,” she said. “For example, the lawyers who have been released are still strictly controlled by the authorities. They are almost unable to work normally. Without income, family life is a big problem.

Second, the released lawyers need a long time to recover because of the torture, the physical and mental damage [they have suffered]. In the process, I think it was very important for lawyers to be reunited with their family members. Therefore, the 709 families and wives did not return to an easy life when their husbands came home,” she said.

Most of the 709 detainees were released, but several were jailed. Only Wang, who was charged with subverting state power in February 2017, remains behind bars in Tianjin awaiting trial. In her video message for the Edelstam ceremony, Li voiced her fears for her husband: “Only Wang Quanzhang remains in extended detention. I am really worried and afraid that he might never leave jail in his lifetime”. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/30/rsdl-chinas-legalization-of-disappearances/]

Caroline Edelstam, the founder and president of the Edelstam Foundation, said Li “has continued advocating, beyond her personal interest, for the principles of rule of law and democracy in China, and campaigned not only for her husband’s release but also for the freedom of all the victims of violations of human rights in China”.

14 major NGOs call for immediate release of Chinese human rights defender Huang Qi

November 6, 2018

Chinese authorities must immediately and unconditionally release citizen journalist and human rights defender Huang Qi, a group of 14 NGOs (and not the least, see below) said on November 5, 2018. Huang Qi (黄琦), the founder and director of 64 Tianwang Human Rights Center, is not receiving adequate medical care in detention and his health has seriously deteriorated, according to his lawyer who visited him on October 23. Huang’s condition is so serious that there is an immediate threat to his life. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/01/rsfs-press-freedom-prize-2016-goes-to-the-64-tianwang-website-in-china/]

The Chinese government must immediately and unconditionally release Huang, who has been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, and end its policy of denying prompt medical treatment to prisoners of conscience. Several human rights defenders and ethnic and religious minorities have died in detention in recent years due to a lack of prompt medical treatment, including Liu Xiaobo, Cao Shunli [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/03/27/china-or-the-un-must-ensure-independent-investigation-into-death-of-cao-shunli/], Yang Tongyan, and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, intensifying fears that Huang Qi might suffer the same fate without urgent intervention.

Authorities have repeatedly rejected applications for release on medical bail despite Huang’s heath condition continuing to deteriorate. He faces charges of “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities” and “leaking state secrets” due to his work with 64 Tianwang Human Rights Center, which documents and publishes reports on enforced disappearances, trafficking, human rights violations and complaints against government officials. Huang faces the possibility of life imprisonment. His 85-year-old mother has been campaigning for his release, fearing he may die in prison. Last month two of his associates received suspended prison sentences and were released, but authorities have continued to hold Huang. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion in April 2018 that declared Huang’s detention arbitrary, but the Chinese government continues to ignore the Working Group’s recommendation that Huang be released and compensated.

Lawyers representing Huang Qi have also faced retaliation. One of his lawyers, Sui Muqing, was disbarred in February 2018 for defending human rights defenders, such as Huang. [https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/human-rights-lawyer-sui-muqing-disbarred] Huang’s current lawyer, Liu Zhengqing, received a notice in October that he is under investigation for giving Huang cigarettes during a meeting in July. Liu faces suspension of his law license or a large fine.

http://rsdlmonitor.com/immediately-unconditionally-release-huang-qi/

In this context also relevant is: https://mailchi.mp/ishr/alert-to-the-human-rights-councils-35th-session-31901?e=d1945ebb90