UKRAINE: Crimean lawyer Emil Kurbedinov, threatened of disbarment due to interference from the division of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation in Crimea
Emil Kurbedinov is a human rights lawyer registered at the Crimean Central Bar Association in the city of Simferopol. On December 18th, 2018, a directive from the division of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation in Crimea ordered his disbarment.
This exclusion was justified by the recent administrative sanctions received by M. Kurbedinov: in 2017 and 2018, he was arrested several times, placed in administrative detention and found guilty of supporting an ‘extremist’ organization. The basis for these sentences is the publication on social networks of a photo of a Simferopol rally of “Hizb ut-Tahrir”, an organization banned in Russia but legal in Ukraine.
According to the Russian legislation, disbarment has heavy consequences: it prevents a lawyer from joining another bar association or creating a law firm; it also leads, after 3 months, to the loss of the lawyer status.
This decision constitutes a direct interference in the Bar’s prerogatives: according to Russia’s legislation, the Ministry of Justice and its divisions are not allowed to intervene in the Bar’s affairs apart from the cases involving the conformity of the Bar’s activities with its statutes. Administrative sanctions taken against a lawyer cannot, in any case, be dealt with by the executive power.
This directive also constitutes a breach of United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990), according to which “disciplinary proceedings against lawyers shall be brought before an impartial disciplinary committee established by the legal profession, before an independent statutory authority, or before a court, and shall be subject to an independent judicial review” (28th principle).
The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger (“OIAD”) is concerned about such interference, and calls on the Russian authorities to comply with both their national legislation and the abovementioned international principles by cancelling their decision regarding M. Kurbedinov.
Pending further information regarding M. Kurbedinov’s situation, the OIAD invites lawyers and the international community to stay mobilized and to relay the call to the competent authorities, in order to put an end to any interference from the Russian executive, and to protect the independence of lawyers and the rights of the defense.
Who are we?
The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger was created by the National Bar Council (France), the Paris Bar (France), the Consejo General de la Abogacía Espanola (Spain), and the Consiglio Nazionale Forense (Italy). Its goal is to conduct a constant monitoring on lawyers facing threats around the world because they lawfully practice their profession and to provide assistance to attorneys whose lives, freedom or practice are threatened.