Posts Tagged ‘L4L’

Two lawyers from Belarus share Lawyers for Lawyers Award 2021

September 10, 2021

Belarusian lawyers Maksim Znak and Liudmila Kazak will receive the Lawyers for Lawyers Award 2021. The Award will be presented at a ceremony co-hosted by Lawyers for Lawyers and the Amsterdam Bar Association in the Rode Hoed in Amsterdam on 18 November 2021. For more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/B40861B3-0BE3-4CAF-A417-BC4F976E9CB0

By awarding Maksim Znak and Liudmila Kazak the Lawyers for Lawyers Award, the jury wants to highlight the important work of both lawyers who bravely represented Belarusian human rights defenders and opposition leaders and are paying a high price for their work. With this Award, the jury also wants to raise awareness of other Belarusian lawyers who have been subjected to pressure, harassment and intimidation in connection to their professional activities especially in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential elections”.

Maksim Znak and Liudmila Kazak laureates Lawyers for Lawyers Award 2021

Maksim Znak                                                                                     

Maksim Znak represented Viktor Babaryko, a potential candidate in the presidential elections who was not allowed to formally register. He also provided legal assistance to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a former candidate for the presidency who is now in exile, and Maria Kolesnikova, Coordination Council co-leader. On 9 September 2020, Mr. Znak was arrested for allegedly having committed the offence of “calls to actions seeking to undermine national security” in violation of Article 361(3) of the Criminal Code of Belarus. In February 2021, additional charges were added, including “conspiracy to seize state power” and “organising extremism”. On 6 September 2021, Mr. Znak was sentenced to 10 years in prison during a closed-door-trial. His sentencing is another indication of the challenging working environment in which Belarusian lawyers must operate.

Liudmila Kazak

Liudmila Kazak is a human rights lawyer who has defended political prisoners, human rights defenders, and journalists, including the opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova. On 24 September 2020, she was detained. The next day, the court held Kazak administratively liable for disobeying police officers based on testimony given by anonymous masked witnesses who appeared via Skype and claimed to be the arresting officers. She was sentenced to a fine under article 23.4 of the Belarusian Administrative Code and released on 26 September 2020. On 11 February 2021, she was notified of a pending disciplinary proceeding against her before the Qualification Commission for legal practice in the Republic of Belarus. On 19 February 2021, the Qualification Commission disbarred Ms. Kazak. Ms. Kazak appealed the decision, but, on 15 April 2021, a district court upheld Ms. Kazak’s disbarment. On 17 June 2021, an appellate court upheld the district court decision.

For 2019 award, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/21/lawyers-for-lawyers-award-to-turkish-human-rights-defender-selcuk-kozagacli-on-23-may/

The 3 human rights lawyers shortlisted for the L4L award

July 12, 2021

Lawyers from Myanmar and Belarus, and a lawyers’ collective from Algeria are shortlisted as finalists for the 2021 Lawyers for Lawyers Award. The 2021 Award will be presented to the laureate during a seminar hosted by Lawyers for Lawyers and the Amsterdam Bar Association in Amsterdam on 18 November 2021. The ceremony will also be live-streamed.

For more on the Lawyers for Lawyers Award and other awards for lawyers see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/B40861B3-0BE3-4CAF-A417-BC4F976E9CB0 .

The expert jury selected U Khing Maung Zaw from Myanmar, the Collective for the Defence of Hirak Detainees from Algeria and Maksim Znak and Liudmila Kazak from Belarus as finalists for the Award. The laureate of the Award will be announced later this year.

About the finalists

  • In Myanmar, U Khing Maung Zaw has courageously upheld the rule of law for more than five decades. He is currently representing leaders of the recently deposed Myanmar government and a number of other persons who have been arbitrarily detained on politically motivated criminal charges associated with the military coup in Myanmar beginning 1 February 2021. In this context of repression and danger, U Khin Maung Zaw remains committed to representing his clients.
  • Since February 2019, grassroots peaceful protests (the “Hirak”) have called for genuine democratic reform and rule of law in Algeria. In response, the government launched a campaign of arrests and judicial harassment against all those associated with this movement. The Collective for the Defence of Hirak Detainees, formed in July 2019 after the first wave of arrests, voluntarily and tirelessly defends those arbitrarily prosecuted, especially from marginalised backgrounds who cannot afford legal support.
  • In the aftermath of the 2020 presidential elections in Belarus, lawyers working on politically sensitive cases or cases of human rights violations were subjected to pressure, harassment and intimidation in connection to their professional activities. Maksim Znak and Liudmila Kazak represented human rights defenders and opposition leaders, and are paying a high price for their work. On 9 September 2020, Maksim Znak was taken into custody and is still being detained. On 19 February 2021, Liudmila Kazak was disbarred.

Call for nominations for the 2021 Lawyers for Lawyers Award

March 2, 2021

The Lawyers for Lawyers Award aims to honour lawyers who have made significant contributions to the protection of the rule of law and human rights in challenging environments. Through the bi-annual Award, Lawyers for Lawyers generates public recognition for the work and outstanding achievements of lawyers at risk. See for the award and its laureates: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/B40861B3-0BE3-4CAF-A417-BC4F976E9CB0

Nominations must be submitted using the nomination form here. Please send the complete nomination form, including the required attached documents to info@lawyersforlawyers.nl or lawyersforlawyers@protonmail.com.

The closing date for submission of nominations is16 April 2021.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/04/24/lawyers-for-lawyers-raises-the-alarm-filipino-lawyers-at-risk/

Online conference for Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal on 11 August 2020

August 6, 2020

Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) will organise an online press conference on
11 August 2020 at 4.00 – 4.45 pm (CEST) to inform about the situation of human rights lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal from Turkey, who are serving long prison sentences and have been on hunger strike since February 2020.
Speakers are : Irma van den Berg (Lawyers for Lawyers), Tony Fisher (London), Mehmet Durakoğlu (the president of İstanbul Bar Association) and other speakers who will be confirmed later.
From 4.30 – 4.45 pm there will a Q&A, only for journalists.
Background information:
Since 4 August Ebru Timtik is on 215th day of her hunger strike (death fast)
and Aytaç Ünsal is on 184th day of his. They have been under pre-trial detention for almost 3 years. Their lawyers, recently, submitted a request to Istanbul 37th Assize Court before which they have been tried which demanded their release on the basis that their health had deteriorated to such an extent that it was not appropriate that they remain in prison. Upon receipt of this request the Court transferred Ebru and Aytaç to the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute and asked the experts to examine them. The experts at the Institute reported that Ebru and Aytaç’s physical condition made it inappropriate for them to remain in detention. The Court, instead of releasing them pending the outcome of their appeal, ordered their transfer to a hospital following this report. They are currently
held as pre-trial detainees in a special ward of a hospital that is a Covid-19 Pandemic Hospital with no access to the outside world and similar limitations imposed on them as they would have been subject to had they remained in prison.
Ebru and Aytaç have passed several critical stages since the beginning of their protest against their conviction of terrorist offences, together with 16 other progressive lawyers, based on allegations of anonymous witnesses, evidence to which they did not have access and, more generally, the systemic violation of fair trial rights in Turkey in the present day (a full summary of the proceedings against them and against other colleagues is enclosed). The physical condition they are in now is extremely
worrisome, especially for Ebru who is seen as being in a near death situation.
Ebru and Aytaç are two of over 1,500 lawyers arrested and prosecuted for alleged terrorist offences in Turkey since the attempted coup in July 2016. Many Turkish and European bar associations, lawyers’ organisations and NGO’s reported on the serious flaws in the case against them, the
situation of the lawyers in Turkey and the violations which they have suffered.
Technical details:
The event will be held at Zoom. The link and the technical details will be shared with the confirmed participants the same day of the event. Simultaneous translation will be available between Turkish and English.
Please write an email including your full name, profession and the organisation or media outlet you represent (if there is any) by 10 August 2020 at serifecerenuysal@gmail.com, info@lawyersforlawyers.nl or aysebingol@hotmail.com if you are willing to join.

https://lawyersforlawyers.org/en/lawyers-ebru-timtik-and-aytac-unsal-not-released/?fbclid=IwAR2toIN0L9GZn9wj66d3EpagviIbSj_SmS4xUrqDVG44zVLEVqHuFv42k5A

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

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

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

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!

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/