2024 OIAD General Assembly: testimonies and tributes to threatened colleagues

2024 OIAD General Assembly: testimonies and tributes to threatened colleagues

The Maison des Avocats de Paris hosted the 7th Ordinary General Meeting of the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger on 20 June 2024. Gathered in the Council room of the Paris Bar Association, the Co-Presidents Vincent Nioré and Vanessa Bousardo handed over the presidency of the OIAD to the Consejo General de la Abogacía Española, represented by Alfredo Irujo.

The event featured powerful interviews with lawyers from Russia, Mexico, Iran and the Democratic Republic of Congo, who highlighted the challenges and realities of the lawyer’s profession in their respective countries.

“Women are raped, massacred (…) children are enrolled in the armed forces (…). In this context, unfortunately, we are supposed to live (…) but in reality, we try to live because we have no other choice. And it’s complicated when we, the lawyers who are supposed to defend the rights of all these citizens (…) are also the target of the government authorities’ armed forces”, explains Vascos Saasita, a lawyer at the Bar in Tshipo (Democratic Republic of Congo)
“I must tell you that it is an ordeal to be a human rights defender, to be a defence lawyer in Mexico. Threats, assaults, the risk of being murdered, of disappearing (…) I live by taking care of myself or by trusting in God to do my work”, says Mexican lawyer Teodomira Rosales.

The second edition of the OIAD Human Rights Prize was also held on 20 June 2024. This year, the Observatory awarded its prize to the Afghan lawyer Hosain Haydari, for his defence of victims of sexist violence by the Taliban regime and of women’s rights.

“Political and legal anarchy reigns in Afghanistan (…) the doors of schools and universities are still closed to women (…). Even having a relationship with foreign foundations and institutions is considered a serious offence. (…) There are still hundreds of human beings who suffer torture, oppression and injustice at the hands of the Taliban simply because they are campaigning for human rights”, declared the prize-winner.
As is the custom, the activity and financial reports were presented to the members. Among OIAD’s main activities, the meeting reviewed the observation missions in connection with the assassination trial of the former Bar President of Diyarbakir, Tahir Elçi. Nahit Eren, current President of the Diyarbakir Bar, and Adrien Verrier, former President of the Nice Bar and OIAD delegate on one of the trials, discussed the issues at stake in this emblematic trial, which marked the Observatory’s year.


Sandrine Giroud, Bar President of Geneva, underlined the intensification of the actions of the OIAD within the United Nations. A video message from Margaret Satterthwaite, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, was also broadcast to members during the General Assembly
Massimo Audisio, lawyer at the Milan Bar, presented the OIAD’s missions to the Council of Europe, in particular in the context of the drafting of a Convention for the Protection of Lawyers, aimed at guaranteeing the security and independence of lawyers in the exercise of their functions.

In the afternoon, training workshops were led by Sacha Koulaeva, an expert in human rights and civil society. These workshops, which focused on the security of lawyers going on mission abroad for the OIAD, provided participants with essential tools and strategies to ensure their protection during these missions.

The Observatory would like to thank all the participants in the General Assembly and, in particular, the lawyers who shared their inspiring testimonies and the members of the OIAD for their unwavering and indispensable commitment to continue working together for the defence of the defence.