Posts Tagged ‘Independence of Lawyers’

Lawyers for Lawyers: award to Turkish human rights defender Selçuk Kozağaçlı on 23 May

May 21, 2019

On 23 May 2019, L4L will be presenting the 2019 Lawyers for Lawyers Award to Selçuk Kozağaçlı, a human rights lawyer from Turkey. Selçuk Kozağaçlı is a lawyer, human rights defender and member of the People’s Law Office. He is well known for working on the “Soma Mine” disaster, the worst mine disaster in Turkey’s history, in which 301 miners were killed. He is also the chair of the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD), an association which focuses on the right to life and advocates for the prevention of all types of attack on fundamental rights and human dignity. The Progressive Lawyers’ Association was closed on 22 November 2016 by Statutory Decree No. 677 issued under the State of Emergency.

Fore more on this award and other awards for human rights lawyers, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/lawyers-for-lawyers.

The Award Ceremony will take place in Amsterdam. Prior to this ceremony an interesting seminar will be held in collaboration with the Amsterdam Bar Association and the Justitia Commission of the Young Lawyers Association Amsterdam. The main topic of the seminar will concern the developments surrounding the proposed European Convention on the Profession of Lawyers. Two panel discussions will be organized around this topic. Speakers include François Moyse (Vice-Chair of the CCBE European Convention Working Group), Mikolaj Pietrzak (president of the Warsaw Bar Association) and former Award winners and lawyers Sirikan ‘June’ Charoensiri (Thailand), Magamed Abubakarov (the Russian Federation) and Alec Muchadehama (Zimbabwe).

From 2:30 PM until 5:00 PM CEST L4L will livestream PART I with the seminar ‘Lawyers at risk! Do we need a European Convention?’ It will continue the broadcast with PART II from 5:00 PM until 5:30 PM CEST with the Award CeremonyTo watch online, please click on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/user/LawyersforLawyersL4L/live

 

Invitation Lawyers for Lawyers Award Ceremony 2019

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/selcuk-kozagacli-detained

Special Rapporteur Diego Garcia-Sayan not swayed by Moroccan assurances for his visit

March 21, 2019

Morocco Deplores UN Special Rapporteur’s Reasons for Canceling Visit

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24356&LangID=E

https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2019/03/268552/morocco-un-special-rapporteurs-visit/

Turkey, not a good place to be a lawyer or a judge

February 7, 2019

On 6 February 2019 is became known that a public prosecutor has sought the maximum prison sentence of 15 years for each of 33 lawyers on charges of membership in a terrorist organization due to their alleged links to the faith-based civic Gülen movement, the T24 news website reported on Tuesday. On Tuesday the trial of 53 defendants, 52 of whom are lawyers, continued at the Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court.

[Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown as a result of which more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 50,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.]

According to data compiled by independent monitoring site The Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative, 555 lawyers have been arrested since July 15, 2016 and 1,546 were under prosecution as of January 24, 2019. Two hundred sixteen lawyers have been sentenced to a total of 1,361 years in prison. Some of the arrested lawyers were reportedly subjected to torture and ill treatment. Fourteen of the detained or arrested lawyers are presidents or former presidents of provincial bar associations.

A report titled “Incarceration of Turkish Lawyers: En Masse Arrests and Convictions (2016-2018)” previously revealed that lawyers have particularly been targeted simply due to the identity or affiliations of their clients, all this spite of the basic principles of the independence of lawyers. [see e.g. https://lawyersforlawyers.org/en/basic-principles/ and also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/03/09/independence-of-the-legal-profession-subject-of-side-event-on-16-march-2017/]

Judiciary

And it is not limited to lawyers. A Turkish court sentenced a judge who previously won an award for human rights to 10 years in prison over links to the network Ankara says orchestrated an attempted coup in 2016, the state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Friday. Murat Arslan, who has been detained for 22 months, was convicted of membership in an armed terrorist organisation, after prosecutors charged him with use of the encrypted messaging app ByLock, Anadolu said. Arslan has denied the charges and said any evidence that he had used the app was “fabricated”, Anadolu said.

The government says the outlawed app was widely used by followers of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom it blames for the attempted coup that saw rogue soldiers commandeer tanks and aircraft, attacking parliament and killing some 250 unarmed civilians. The Council of Europe human rights body in 2017 gave Arslan, who was detained at the time, the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, a decision that prompted Turkey to say it would cut back its funding to the body. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/10/18/turkey-angry-after-pace-havel-prize-is-awarded-to-jailed-judge/]

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/04/18/european-commission-states-that-turkey-is-taking-major-steps-away-from-the-eu/

Torture

In the meantime Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the 2018 winner of the Hessian Peace Prize for her work documenting human rights abuses in Turkey, said torture had become systematic. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/11/05/turkish-human-rights-defender-and-forensic-doctor-sebnem-korur-fincanci-honoured/]

Korur Fincancı was one of more than 1,000 Turkish academics who signed a 2016 petition calling for peace after a two-year ceasefire between the government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) broke down and security forces used tanks and artillery to crush attempts by the militants to seize towns and cities across the mainly Kurdish southeast. Now the head of Turkey’s Human Rights Foundation has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for signing the petition and for her contribution to a report prepared by her foundation on the Turkish military’s activities in the southeastern town of Cizre. 

……The figures show an alarming trend that Korur Fincancı said pointed to systematic rights violations. “In the year 2017, more than 5,000 people across Turkey applied for legal aid from the Human Rights Association on the basis that they’d been tortured. More than 500 applied to representatives of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey to be diagnosed … for torture,” she said.  The number of applicants remained high in 2018, with more than 2,600 people who said they had been tortured applying for legal aid and 558 applying for treatment in the first 11 months of the year.

Fincancı

….Korur Fincancı she said the fight against torture must extend beyong medical treatment to preventative measures, and that means educating the public.

…Meanwhile, security forces have opened 26,000 cases against suspects they say resisted arrest. “After police launch cases against them, people become hesitant to open (torture) cases … or the withdraw them. Thus the judiciary protects the police, the use of torture with legal repercussions becomes more entrenched, and the police believe they are doing their duty under this protection,” said the doctor.

With the introduction of emergency rule after the coup, the purge and arrest of public officials has come to be counted as part of a struggle against terrorism, providing another layer of protection for security officers who commit torture and other infractions. “And this arrangement applies to civilians – it’s the same as telling security officers we are in a state of civil war and their actions will be ignored,” Korur Fincancı said. “And that’s a very dangerous situation.

State of emergency

Anyway, ending the state of emergency in Turkey has not ended repressive rule under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Human Rights Watch observed on 17 January 2019 in its World Report 2019. Prolonged and arbitrary jailing of critics on bogus terrorism charges has become the norm in Turkey. Turkey’s parliamentary and presidential elections in June 2018 took place in a climate of media censorship and with some members of parliament and one presidential candidate jailed. Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) retained control of a weakened parliament through a coalition. And with the election, in which Erdoğan was reelected, Turkey’s presidential system of governance, approved in a 2017 constitutional referendum, entered fully into force. “Any hope that the end of the state of emergency six month ago would mark a return to respect for human rights has been dashed,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Erdoğan government’s hounding of its critics and opponents has dismantled Turkey’s rule of law framework and turned justice on its head.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/turkey-sentences-detained-judge-who-won-human-rights-award-to-10-years–anadolu-says-11141758
https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/01/17/turkey-state-emergency-ends-not-repression
https://ahvalnews.com/torture/award-winning-rights-activist-says-torture-systematic-turkey

Azerbaijan: example of ‘sophisticated’ harassment of human rights lawyers

June 29, 2018

Om 29 June 2018 Front Line Defenders reported on the case of disbarment of human rights lawyer Irada Javadova in Azerbaijan. It shows how seemingly ‘neutral’ procedures within the Bar Association are used to silence human rights defenders.

Irada Javadova <https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/irada-javadova> is a human rights lawyer who was involved in many resonant cases, including working on numerous violations of citizens’ property rights and violations against political activists and human rights defenders. She is the former head of NGO “Human Rights Education”. The procedure was initiated upon the complaint of an anonymous citizen, who stated that Irada Javadova wrote a letter to the Interior Ministry about her illegal detention in the Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and reported the incident to the press, without the citizen’s consent. According to reports, the citizen stated that Irada Javadova spread false information, defamed her, and requested that the Bar Association take action against the human rights defender. On 11 June 2018, the Presidium of the Bar Association announced the termination of her authority.

Irada Javadova denied the allegations, stating that she had an agreement with her client and that she had legitimately defended her and acted within the law. She had submitted the agreement with the complainant to the Bar Association, but her colleagues expressed doubts about the authenticity of the client’s signature. She was disbarred on 11 June 2018. On 12 June, she met with the chairman of the Presidium of the Bar Association and presented additional evidence, but she was told that there will be an appeal to Baku Administrative Economic Court No. 1, where she will have the opportunity to defend her rights. Irada Javadova believes that the disciplinary commission was biased and erroneous.  On 14 June 2018, human rights lawyer Irada Javadova appealed the Presidium of the Bar Association’s decision to disbar her.

[In recent years, Azeri authorities have been pursuing those lawyers who defend political activists and who speak before the European Court of Human Rights. Officials have dismissed such well-known and active lawyers as Namizad Safarov, Khalid Baghirov <https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/khalid-bagirov> , Aslan Ismayilov, Alaif Hasanov, Elchin Namazov, Yalchin Imanov <https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/yalchin-imanov> , Farhad Mehdiyev, Muzaffar Bakhshaliyev, Annaghi Hajibeyli, and Intigam Aliyev <https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/intigam-aliyev>.  For some earlier posts on Azerbaijan: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/azerbaijan/page/4/

PS In 2018, Irada Javadova was the only member of Presidium of the Bar Association to vote against the disbarment of human rights lawyer Yalchin Imanov. It is believed that she lost her place in the Presidium following her defence of Yalchin Imanov.

 

24 January 2018: Day of the Endangered Lawyer – focus on Egypt

January 22, 2018

I did not know about this special Day for Endangered Lawyers which is meant to call for the attention of lawyers all over the world for colleagues who are being harassed, silenced, pressured, threatened, persecuted, tortured, killed and disappeared.  Although relatively unknown, it has the support of several lawyers’ organizations such as:

The Association European Democratic Lawyers www.aeud.org
The European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights www.eldh.eu
Vereniging Sociale Advocatuur Nederland www.vsanadvocaten.nl
Lawyers for lawyers www.lawyersforlawyers.nl
Colombia Caravana UK Lawyersgroup www.colombiancaravana.org.uk
European Bar Human Rights Institute www.idhae.org
Avocats sans Frontières www.asf-network.org

The Foundation has devoted its attention to the situation in Iran, Turkey, Basque Country, Columbia and the Philippines in the past. In 2016 the focus was on the situation in Honduras. Detailed information and reports are available at www.aeud.org.

The UK Law Society president Joe Egan said: ‘We honour the courage and commitment of lawyers around the world who uphold justice, often despite considerable risk to themselves, their colleagues and their families.’ The country focus for the Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2018 is Egypt, where lawyers and human rights defenders face prosecution and travel bans for carrying out professional duties.

For other posts see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/human-rights-lawyers/

http://dayoftheendangeredlawyer.eu/backgrounds/#EstablishingTheFoundation

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

 

 

 

 

 

Bodies of disappeared human rights lawyer Kimani and his client found in Kenya

July 3, 2016

A lawyer, Willie Kimani, his client, Josphat Mwenda and their taxi driver, Joseph Muiruri, were last seen returning from a traffic court hearing at Mavoko Law Courts on 23 June 2016. Many feared that they were abducted. Now, on 1 July 2016 their bodies have been found. Kimani was a lawyer with NGO International Justice Mission in Kenya. Kimani had been representing Mwenda in a case he had brought against the police after he was shot by them during a traffic stop.

Kenyan lawyers held a protest http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000207020/lawyers-stage-protest-outside-ig-boinnet-s-office-over-missing-lawyer-client-and-taxi-driver-civil-societies-condemn-disappearance on 30 June, and petitioned the police inspector general for information regarding the men’s whereabouts.

We are deeply saddened by reports of the murders of Kimani, his client, and his taxi driver, and offer our condolences to their families and colleagues who continue to incur great risk fighting for justice and accountability,” said Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “It’s vital for the future of Kenya that its human rights lawyers are able to operate without fear of violence, and that the killers be swiftly brought to justice.”

Police should not hesitate to interrogate and arrest their own officers when there is cause,” said Namwaya of HRW. “This case stands as a clear threat to the legal profession and all those who push for police accountability in Kenya.”

http://www.hrw.org/africa/kenya

[http://www.knchr.org/Portals/0/PressStatements/Joint%20Press%20Release%20-Disappearance%20of%20Willie%20Kimani%20et%20al.pdf]

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/human-rights-first-demands-justice-murder-human-rights-lawyer-kenya

In Somaliland lawyer has to choose: practicing law or human rights!

May 19, 2016

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - croppedreports that on 16 May 2016, human rights defender Mr Guleid Ahmed Jama received notification from the Somaliland Minister of Justice and Judicial Affairs that his licence to practice law had been terminated. Guleid Ahmed Jama [for profile see: https://frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/guleid-ahmad-jama] is a lawyer and founder of the Human Rights Center, a human rights watchdog organisation in Somaliland.

He only learned about this when he saw on 16 May a letter (dated 10 April!) which was circulated to members of the Somaliland judiciary from the Minister of Justice and Judicial Affairs, Minister Ahmed Farah Adarre, requesting that the judiciary cease to allow Guleid Ahmed Jama to practice law, as his position as chairperson of the HRC and his work as a lawyer are incompatible. [The termination of the licence by the Minister of Justice is unprecedented as the duty of licensing permissions falls within the mandate of the Advocates Licensing and Disciplining Commission.]

Earlier harassment against him occurred in April 2015 when he was arrested, charged and detained in Hargeisa while working in his capacity as a lawyer at Hargeisa Regional Court. He was accused of ‘subversive or anti-national propaganda’, ‘instigation to disobey the laws’, ‘intimidation of the public’ and ‘publication or circulation of false, exaggerated and tendentious news capable of disturbing public order’. According to the Office of the Attorney General, the human rights defender had allegedly committed these offences through his work at the HRC. This case was later closed. <https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-guleid-ahmed-jama>

Seems to me to be a good case for (international) lawyers organizations.

See also: https://www.defenddefenders.org/2016/05/somaliland-minister-justice-revokes-license-human-rights-lawyer/

 

 

Turkey: really the place for a fair trial?

March 20, 2016

All the attention is on Turkey as the country where refugees will have to be processed. The more the question of fair trial becomes important. The following does not bode well:

In the early morning of 16 March 2016, police raided the houses of 9 lawyers in Istanbul, Turkey. After the search, lawyers Ramazan Demir, İrfan Arasan, Ayşe Acinikli, Hüseyin Boğatekin, Şefik Çelik, Adem Çalışçı, Ayşe Başar, Tamer Doğan and Mustafa Rüzgar were taken into custody. They are all members of the Libertarian Lawyers Association ÖHD). There has not been given any justification for these arrests and searches. The case file on the arrests is confidential. Allegedly the lawyers are arrested on suspicion of having ties with a terrorist organization. All the lawyers that were arrested represent the 46 lawyers who were arrested in 2011 on suspicion of “working for, or belonging to, a terrorist organization”. A hearing in the trial against these lawyers took place only one day after the arrests (!), on 17 March 2016. The arrest of their lawyers means that they are deprived from their legal defense.

Lawyers for Lawyers and Fair Trial Watch are extremely worried about the state of the rule of law in Turkey, which is quickly deteriorating. They sent a letter to the Turkish authorities in which they urge them to:
–     Immediately release lawyers and drop the criminal investigation;L4L logo
–     Abstain from identifying lawyers with their clients or their clients’ causes;
–     Put an end to all forms of harassment against lawyers in Turkey;
–     Guarantee in all circumstances that all lawyers in Turkey are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals, intimidation, threats and free of all restrictions.
For more information see: http://www.advocatenvooradvocaten.nl/11446/turkey-police-raid-on-and-arrest-of-9-lawyers

Meanwhile on 11 February, 2016 the Human Rights Foundation drew attention to the case of journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, and urges the government of Turkey to drop the arbitrary charges imposed on them. On November 26, Dündar, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Cumhuriyet, and Gül, the Ankara bureau chief, were arrested based on a criminal complaint filed against them by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The complaint stems from a report published in Cumhuriyet on May 29, 2015 with photos and video footage claiming that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization secretly armed Islamist rebel groups in Syria. The two journalists are being held at the high-security Silivri prison west of Istanbul. They are currently awaiting trial and facing up to life in prison.

HRF to Turkey: Free Journalists Can Dündar and Erdem GülSource: Vedat Arik/AP

The rise of authoritarianism in Turkey is blatant. Erdogan’s government crackdown on independent journalists is a step towards exerting dictatorial control over Turkey’s media,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen.

https://humanrightsfoundation.org/news/hrf-to-turkey-free-journalists-can-duendar-and-erdem-guel-00516?utm_content=&utm_source=VerticalResponse&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=here&utm_campaign=HRF%20to%20Turkey%3A%20Free%20Journalists%20Can%20Dündar%20and%20Erdem%20Gülcontent

Human Rights Lawyers Disqualified to run for Iran’s Bar Association

February 11, 2016

Not the most egregious of violations but showing how deep the ruling powers’ reach in Iran is: more than two dozen prominent lawyers, including well-known human rights defenders, have been disqualified (again) from running in next month’s election for the Iranian Bar Association’s board of directors. Judge Hosseinali Nayeri, the head of the Supreme Disciplinary Court for Judges, issued a statement on 2 February  2016 rejecting 25 of the 141 candidacy applications, according to Kaleme, an opposition website.

The disqualified include human rights lawyers Farideh Gheirat, Mohammad Saleh Nikbakht, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, Ramazan Haji Mashhadi, and former Tehran University law professor, Ghasem Sholeh Sadi. The bar association has only published the names of the approved candidates on its website.

Sholeh Sadi, told the NGO ‘International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran’ that the bar association should operate as an independent body and elections for its board of directors should be conducted without the interference of the judicial system. “Governments want to limit the lawyers’ activities and try to control them,” said the former Member of Parliament who has served time as a political prisoner in Iran.

The independence of lawyers as well as the Iranian Bar Association have been seriously undermined since the passage of a law in 1997 that imposed several limits and controls on the process for testing and licensing new lawyers. In February 2014, some 200 lawyers wrote an open letter to President Hassan Rouhani expressing concern about the Judiciary’s attempts to curb their autonomy. They accused the Judiciary of trying to destroy the independence of the legal profession “established by Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh more than 70 years ago.” The Head of the Iranian Judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, denied the charges, claiming that the Judiciary’s supervision over lawyers would not curtail their independence.

For older posts on Iran: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/iran/

Source: Prominent Lawyers Disqualified from Iran’s Bar Association Election