IRAN: Arbitrary arrests of lawyers and death sentences
Blondinrikard Fröberg / Flick / 2014 The International Organization of Lawyers in Danger (OIAD) expresses its dismay and horror regarding the situation in Iran, particularly with regard to the dozens of lawyers arbitrarily detained and the serious violations of the rights of the defense in the context of the massive use of the death penalty. Since the beginning of the brutal and relentless repression of peaceful citizen demonstrations in September 2022 by the Iranian authorities, 525 protesters, including 71 minors, have been killed. To date, 19,546 people have been counted as “disappeared” while only 5019 detainees have been identified and counted in prison. The legal profession has not been spared by the repression. The demonstration organized by the Tehran Bar Association on 12 October 2022 was violently repressed. Since September 2022, 45 lawyers have been arrested. Of these, 18 are still in detention and 27 have been released on bail and are facing prosecution. The Iranian regime has already sentenced some 20 protesters to death after summary trials without any procedural safeguards and based on confessions that are believed to have been obtained under torture. Mohsen Shekari, Majid Reza Rahnavard, Mohammad Mehdi Karami, Sayed Mohammad Hosseini were executed between 8 […]
Every year on the 24th of January, the International Day of the Lawyer in Danger mobilises the international community on the difficulties and threats to the practice of law. The situation of lawyers in Afghanistan was chosen for the year 2023. Lawyers have been targeted since the Taliban government took power on 15th of August 2021. The impossibility or even the prohibition for women to practice their profession and the obligation for men to obtain a new licence under the control of the terrible Taliban Ministry of Justice, undermine the free exercise of lawyers’ profession. Not to mention the dramatic deterioration of the rule of law, jeopardising the lives of thousands of Afghans, including many lawyers, forced to flee or hide in the country. On the occasion of this international day, the OIAD is organising a virtual conference on the 20th of January 2023 entitled “The defence of defence in times of crisis”, which will provide an opportunity to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, but also in Ukraine and Iran. *** Join us online for this mobilisation day. The debates will be fully translated into English, French, Spanish and Italian. We also invite you to participate in the OIAD’s […]
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE LAWYER IN DANGER 2023: THE OIAD TAKES ACTION FOR AFGHANISTAN!
Every year on the 24th of January, the International Day of the Lawyer in Danger mobilises the international community on the difficulties and threats to the practice of law. The situation of lawyers in Afghanistan was chosen for the year 2023. Lawyers have been targeted since the Taliban government took power on 15th of August 2021. The impossibility or even the prohibition for women to practice their profession and the obligation for men to obtain a new licence under the control of the terrible Taliban Ministry of Justice, undermine the free exercise of lawyers’ profession. Not to mention the dramatic deterioration of the rule of law, jeopardising the lives of thousands of Afghans, including many lawyers, forced to flee or hide in the country. On the occasion of this international day, the OIAD is organising a online conference on the 20th of January 2023 entitled “The defence of defence in times of crisis”, which will provide an opportunity to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, but also in Ukraine and Iran. *** Join us online, for this mobilisation day. The debates will be fully translated into English, French, Spanish and Italian. We also invite you to participate in the OIAD’s workshops. […]
STRASBOURG: The OIAD attended as observer to the 3rd meeting of the Committee of Experts for the drafting of a Convention on the Protection of Lawyers
The 3rd meeting of the Committee of experts on the Protection of Lawyers (CJ-AV) in charge of drafting an international legal instrument on the protection of lawyers was held in Brussels from 8 to 10 November 2022. The Observatory participated as an observer, represented by Laurence Roques, who summarised the content of the meeting as follows: “Massimo Audisio, who represented the OIAD at the first two meetings, recalled that these meetings had focused on the binding nature of the instrument, with a sub-question concerning the procedure for monitoring the binding nature of it. Even though a large majority of States were in favour of the binding nature of the instrument, given the lack of unanimity (Turkey opposed it), this question was postponed until later. This meeting was dedicated to study the substantive articles of the convention. It was agreed to postpone consideration of the preamble until the end, once all the articles of the convention have been agreed, which is more coherent as it will be easier to write it once a consensus has been reached on the content of the convention. Discussions were focused on both definitional and translation issues between the English version (the original version, as it […]
IRAN: The OIAD, together with other lawyers’ associations, takes action in favour of Iranian lawyers and denounces the situation at the United Nations.
On 24th November, on the occasion of the Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council on the deteriorating human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a joint statement by lawyers’ associations, including the OIAD, was distributed by lawyers in robe at the “place des nations” in Geneva. The statement was also delivered to the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. This joint statement has been issued to help secure immediate, coordinated, multi-sectoral action on legal independence in Iran to guarantee lawyers practice their profession without fear of repression or persecution The Observatory, together with the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, the Union Internationale des Avocats, Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, ASF Suisse, and Lawyers for Lawyers call on the Islamic Republic of Iran and its agencies to protect, promote, and support the following basic rights: 1) the independence of the legal profession; 2) the principle of lawyer-client confidentiality; 3) the right to have access to a legal representative; 4) the right to prepare a defence. The joint statement signed by the above organisations reflects our alarm over state repression of protests and the practices established by the regime that restrict and violate the independence […]
TURKEY: Press release on the observation mission to the trial of the assassination of Barrister Tahir Elçi
On 15 June 2022, a delegation from OIAD, the Geneva Bar Association and secretaries of the Paris Bar Conference attended the 5th hearing of the defendants in the Barrister Tahir Elçi assassination case. Tahi Elçi was elected as the President of the Diyarbakir Bar Association in 2012 and had been working with national, international and non-governmental organisations especially on the the Kurdish resolution process (peace process) in Turkey and promoting the rights of the people in the Kurdish region, mainly in Diyarbakır. On 28 November 2015, Tahir Elçi was shot dead while holding a press conference he had organised at the “four-legged minaret” in Diyarbakır to denounce the serious human rights violations committed during the curfews in Cizre, Sur, Silopi and Nusaybin, and to make a public appeal for the protection of cultural property and heritage during the conflict. In September 2021, Ahmet Davutoğlu, former Prime Minister stated regarding the causes of Tahir Elçi’s death: “This is an assassination plot against Tahir Elçi. The target is clear, it is Turkey. The second possibility is that, following the terrorists’ attack, our police officers fired shots in order to protect the population there and Tahir Elçi was caught in the crossfire. There […]
COLOMBIA: Letter to Colombian authorities on the risk situation of lawyer Luz Romero Villalba and the Association COLEMAD
The Observatory, together with the International Caravan of Jurists, Lawyers for Lawyers, Lawyers Rights Watch Canada and Global Justice Association, has informed the Colombian authorities of its concern about information received regarding the situation of Luz Estella Romero Villalba and the rest of the members of the Asociación Colectivo Mujeres al Derecho (ASOCOLEMAD or Collective Association of Women in Law), composed of lawyers and human rights defenders in their country. In the communication, the OIAD and the other organisations have urged the Colombian institutions and authorities to: Take all necessary measures to guarantee the safety and physical and psychological integrity of those who make up ASCOLEMAD, within the framework of protection programs and international standards; Guarantee, under all circumstances, that human rights defence lawyers in Colombia can carry out their activities in defence of human rights without fear of reprisals and without restrictions and with respect for the United Nations Basic Principles of the Role of Lawyers, signed in Havana in 1990. Likewise, in particular, we have urged the Office of the Attorney General to observe due diligence and guarantee the rights to due process, defence, access to justice and the right to information in the investigation of the reported […]
COLOMBIA: Press Release of the VII International Caravana of Lawyers
Bogotá, 26 August 2022 – The VII International Caravana of Lawyers has travelled to the regions of Cali, Bucaramanga, Cartagena and Cúcuta where, by listening, observing and gathering the testimonies of victims of human rights violations and their relatives, their legal representatives, the judiciary and institutions, it has reached these preliminary findings. One starting point is the concern about the lack of implementation of the Peace Accord, the continuity of the armed conflict, as well as the serious and increasing levels of violence perpetrated by illegal armed actors involved in drug trafficking and other criminal activities in the regions. Other key elements of the complex current situation include the high and rising levels of poverty and unmet basic needs of the communities, as well as the conflicts surrounding access to water, land and the presence of extractive projects that threaten water and other natural resources. The Caravana is deeply concerned about serious threats to the rule of law that limit access to justice, the repression of political participation and social protest, and the lack of security guarantees for those carrying out vital human rights work in Colombia. Repression and criminalisation of political participation and social protest: The Caravana is concerned […]
AFGHANISTAN: Press release of the Observatory
CONSEQUENCES FOR THE LEGAL PROFESSION ONE YEAR AFTER THE FALL OF KABUL The precipitous fall of Kabul to the Taliban on 15 August 2021 and the re-establishment of the Taliban government put an end to 20 years of social development and rule of law building. This has resulted in the flight of thousands of people from Afghanistan, including many lawyers, judges and prosecutors. Many of them are now in Pakistan, Iran or the United Arab Emirates waiting to find a host country. Their living conditions are particularly difficult and the waiting times for their visa applications to be processed are getting longer and longer. One of the first decisions of the new Taliban Ministry of Justice was to require all Afghan lawyers to obtain a licence issued by the Ministry in order to continue practising. On 23 November 2021, a group of armed Taliban took control of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA) on behalf of the government. This gave the Taliban access to the AIBA’s database, which includes detailed personal information on lawyers’ families and clients, putting these lawyers at serious risk of retaliation. The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger (OIAD for its French acronym) is launching a […]
The Observatory reaffirms its commitment to lawyers at risk at the General Assembly in Rome on 20 May 2022
After two years of working remotely, on 20 May 2022 the International Observatory for Lawyers at Risk finally convened in Rome for its annual General Assembly. Members of the Observatory were able to participate in person or online in the meeting as well as in an open conference organised the day before to make the work of the OIAD more visible. Conference on the role of lawyers in building the rule of law On Thursday 19 May, the conference on the role of lawyers in the construction of the rule of law was held. Maria Masi, President of the Consiglio Nationale Forense, welcomed the participants and praised the work of the Observatory. Francesco Caia, President of the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger, introduced the conference by stating that “The best way to exert effective pressure on governments and authorities is to multiply debates and meetings, involving citizens; to publicise the facts and circumstances that lead to the erosion of the rule of law in many countries of the world, telling the stories, the intimidation, the unjust arrests, the arbitrary convictions and, unfortunately, in the most serious cases, the violence and murders of lawyers. “ David Ermini, vice-president of […]
CONFERENCE [May 19, 2022]: The role of lawyers in the promotion of the rule of law: international institutions to guarantee and defend the practice of lawyers
On May 19, 2022, the Observatory organizes an online and in person conference from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm (CET)
COLOMBIA: [Video] The Observatory supports Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo
The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger supports the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective in the context of the Cajar v. Colombian State hearings before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. This is the first case of illegal intelligence against human rights lawyers to reach the IACHR. Alfredo Irujo, member of the executive committee of the Observatory, has denounced on behalf of the Observatory, the impunity for acts that violate the privacy and professional secrecy of CAJAR and all lawyers in Colombia. It also affirms that the hearings before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on 12 and 13 May should make it possible to measure the impact of these threats to the work and life of human rights defenders in Colombia, as well as to point the way towards the comprehensive protection of the work and of human rights defenders. Finally, it encourages the Colombian state to provide concrete and transparent information on the identification of the victims of illegal eavesdropping activities. In such a way that they can exercise their right of access to justice and effective measures are taken so that these serious human rights violations are not repeated and are clarified.
TURKEY: Lawyer Can Atalay and six other defendants were sentenced to 18 years in prison, without any evidence
Osman Kavala, publisher, sponsor and human rights defender, who has been arbitrarily imprisoned for the past four and a half years, has been sentenced to life imprisonment. Lawyer Can Atalay and six other defendants were sentenced to 18 years in prison, without any evidence. Osman Kavala was, on 25 April 2022, convicted by the 13th Istanbul Assize Court of “attempting to overthrow the government” under Article 312/1 of the Turkish Penal Code in the Gezi Park trial. Nearly 5 million people participated in the peaceful Gezi Park protests across the country in 2013, marking the beginning of the authoritarian and repressive drift of the Turkish authorities in major Turkish cities. Lawyer Can Atalay, as well as the architect Mücella Yapıcı, the producer Çiğdem Mater, the Bogazici University Science Po director Hakan Altınay, the documentary film director Mine Özerden, the architect Tayfun Kahraman, and the professor Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi, were sentenced to 18 years in prison by the same court, on political grounds. This verdict not only contradicts the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, which condemned Turkey for violating Osman Kavala’s right to freedom, imprisoned “with the aim of silencing him”, but also exposes once again the lack […]
Turkey: The Observatory and its members, the French National Bar (CNB), the Paris Bar and the Bologna Bar, were present at the trial of our Turkish colleagues imprisoned for 6 years
The Observatory and its members, the French National Bar (CNB), the Paris Bar and the Bologna Bar, were present on 23 March 2022 at the trial of the “Progressive Lawyers Association” (CHD) at the Silivri high security prison complex (Turkey). In this case, 22 lawyers, members of the CHD association, have been prosecuted since 2013 based on the Turkish anti-terrorist law. Ebru TIMTIK lost her life after a 238-day hunger strike, launched to obtain a fair trial. Selçuk KOZAGACLI, former president of the CHD and Barkın TIMTIK, lawyer and Ebru’s sister, have been imprisoned for almost 6 years. Since the beginning of this case, the lawyers have denied all its elements; the protagonists of the case, the investigation, the evidence, and the witnesses. The prosecutor who prepared the indictment was sentenced to life imprisonment for “belonging to the Gulenist movement” and is currently on the run. The Deputy Director of the Istanbul Anti-Terror Division and police officers serving in the division are being prosecuted for, among other things, “forgery”, “fabrication of false evidence” and “altering illegally obtained digital data”. The main investigator, the police officer who carried out the instructions of the said prosecutor, was dismissed and prosecuted for “forgery” […]
International Women’s Day
The Observatory supports women lawyers March 8 is the International Women’s Rights Day. On this occasion, the Observatory wishes to put forward profiles of women lawyers who fight for the recognition of their rights in their country. Many women lawyers are persecuted in the world, the Observatory affirms its support. As members of the profession, these women must be recognized the same rights as their colleagues. The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held in Havana (Cuba) in 1990 reaffirms in its preamble that: ““the peoples of the world affirm, inter alia , their determination to establish conditions under which justice can be maintained, and proclaim as one of their purposes the achievement of international cooperation in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion”. Some of our colleagues have recently been victims of violence and intimidation in the course of their work. In Afghanistan, Latifa Sharifi was threatened for her fight against domestic violence against women. In the Philippines, Czarina Musni, committed to the protection of vulnerable people and […]
NICARAGUA: Interview with lawyer José Arnulfo López and his family in Spain
[Flickr / Karen] Lawyers José Arnulfo López and Arlene Muñoz explain in an interview with the newspaper “El País” about their hasty flight from Nicaragua to Spain with their two children, due to the high risk of Arnulfo’s arrest. Indeed, this is a well-founded risk. Since the popular protests against the Nicaraguan government in 2018, “more than 110,000 Nicaraguans have fled into exile, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) “. The family denounces the state repression they have suffered in the form of threats and attacks, particularly since José Arnulfo began to legally represent political prisoners and opponents of the Ortega regime. Read the full interview HERE The Observatory has monitored the asylum case, accompanying and supporting lawyer José Arnulfo and his family in Spain, where they are currently waiting for their asylum application to be granted. In this process, they have the pro-bono legal advice of the lawyer Sidi Talebbuia, an expert in international law and immigration, and a collaborator of the Observatory. On 24 February 2022, they both took part in the Round Table on the asylum procedure for lawyers in danger. Watch the full video of the conference on our Youtube channel.  […]
UKRAINE: The observatory strongly condemns military invasion of Ukraine
25 February 2022 On 24 February 2022, the Russian authorities launched an offensive to invade Ukraine. Many Ukrainian colleagues, civilians and families are suffering from the military attacks as we speak. As a non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting human rights and the defence of lawyers under threat around the world, the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger strongly condemns this decision by the Russian authorities to use armed force to invade Ukraine. The Charter of the United Nations adopted on June 26, 1945 in San Francisco proclaimed the will of the signatory countries to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in the space of a human life has inflicted untold suffering on mankind. By this commitment the States resolved not to resort to armed force and to prefer the peaceful settlement of disputes between countries. The Observatory wishes to express its solidarity with the Ukrainian people and in particular with the colleagues who are fighting for the respect and maintenance of the rule of law.
Roundtable: Asylum procedure for lawyers at risk
The Observatory and the Fundación Abogacía Española invite you to their round table on the asylum procedure for lawyers in danger. The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger (IOLD) and the “Fundación Abogacía Española” have identified the need and interest to deepen and provide knowledge on the particularities of the asylum procedure when the applicant is a lawyer in danger. Indeed, the exercise of the legal profession in certain countries and contexts is a high-risk activity, which sometimes leads to the forced exile of these professionals. The aim of this meeting is to present the current legal framework of the asylum procedure in Spain, reflecting on the possibility and necessity of arguing the condition of a lawyer in danger as an asylum seeker. To do this, we will have recourse to experts in the field, as well as the testimony of a Nicaraguan lawyer in exile and seeking asylum in Spain. The event will take place in Madrid in the Assembly Hall of the General Council of Spanish Lawyers on 24 February 2022 at 16:30. The event will be broadcast live on the internet. Please register at the following link to access the event online: REGISTER Link to the programme. […]
Webinar Replay: The Day of the Lawyer in Danger Colombia 2022
On the 24th of January, The Observatory held its webinar dedicated to Colombian Lawyers. ➡️Watch the replay on our youtube channel The webinar is also available in French, Spanish, Italian
Francesco Caia has participated at the event “TROBADES DE BARCELONA MEMORIAL JACQUES HENRY”
7 February, 2022 Francesco Caia, President of the Observatory, has participated on Friday 4th of february at the Memorial Jacques Henry hosted by Barcelona Bar due to the Sant Raimon de Penyafort´s festivity. In this conference, he has been part of the first pannel « Human Rights tools for changing the world ». At this space, he has share the observatory´s work as fundamental tool to protect the lawyers. In his own words, « Protection of the Lawyers means protection of the people they represent. A free, independent and free of influence legal advice would ensure the Effective Legal Protection of the citizenship”.
COLOMBIA: Video testimony of lawyer Germán Romero
The profession lacks a National Bar Association to protect the interests of lawyers in Colombia German is sharing his experience as human rights lawyers, the numerous threats hindering his daily work and the systemic issues from which the colombian Justice is suffering about.
COLOMBIA: Video testimony of lawyer Adil Melendez
What are the risks for lawyers in Colombia ? Adil Meléndez is a environment and human rights lawyer in Colombia. Denouncing the action of the State, Adil is highlighting the threats that suffers lawyers in their daily job.
MEXICO/ Inter-American Court of Human Rights : Mexico condemned for the murder of Digna OCHOA, lawyer and human rights defender
25 January 2022 The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has issued a new ruling condemning Mexico for violating the right to life, the guarantees of judicial protection and the right to honour and dignity of human rights defenders. This is the case of Family of Digna Ochoa y Placido v. Mexico, in which the Court ruled on the responsibility of the State and its lack of diligence in the investigation of the murder of human rights lawyer Ms. Ochoa, occurred in October 2001, and the violation of her family’s right to know the truth about the facts. In May 2021, the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger, together with the Spanish Lawyers’ Foundation, presented an Amicus curiae brief before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in collaboration with the legal team of the victim and her relatives, led by lawyer Karla Micheel Salas. The brief highlighted the prejudice suffered by the family of the Mexican lawyer due to errors in the investigation and the failure of the Mexican State to act despite the numerous requests filed by the family. This judgment obliges Mexico to complete the investigation to determine the circumstances of the murder of Ms. Digna Ochoa in 2001 […]
COLOMBIA: Testimonial video of lawyer Daniel Prado
How has the practice of law evolved in Colombia? Daniel Prado is an independent lawyer associated with the Justice and Peace Commission (JyP), which carries out accompaniment processes with victims and communities using different approaches. Over the course of 30 years, Mr. Prado has witnessed the decline of the judicial system in Colombia and has suffered multiple threats because of his work. The lack of support and protection of lawyers by the State, led by conflicts of interest, puts human rights lawyers at risk.
COLOMBIA: VIDEO testimony of Lawyer Zoraida Hernández
What is needed for lawyers to be able to practice their profession freely in Colombia? Zoraida Hernández Pedraza, colombian human rights lawyer shares with you her opinion on the situation of the legal profession in Colombia: Zoraida Hernández, who has 26 years of human rights experience in Colombia, has suffered extensively with her family from violence against human rights lawyers. Zoraida exposes the need to take measures against the current military doctrine in Colombia to ensure the international human rights standards granted to human rights defenders. Read more about Ms. Hernandez’s work in the article dedicated to the Interational Day of Lawyers in Danger.
COLOMBIA : Press release of the Observatory
On the occasion of the International Day of the Lawyer in Danger dedicated to Colombia which will be held on January 24th, the Observatory and its founding members address the following statement to the Colombian authorities. Read the press release.
COLOMBIA : Online Conference International Day of the Lawyer in Danger 2022
On 24 January 2022, on the occasion of the International Day of the Lawyer in Danger, the Observatory is organising an online conference from 5pm to 6.30pm (CET) translated into English, French, Italian and Spanish. Read the programme. Link to register for the conference : https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_k6GzW1M6RT-ccVH1av9hcA To learn more about the International Day, we invite you to read the Observatory’s documentation.
A BACKDROP OF NATIONAL CONFLICT Colombia is marked by profound crises. For more than 50 years, it has suffered an internal armed conflict involving the state, paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug traffickers. Colombia is also facing a serious social crisis, with a highly divided society and great inequalities. This situation leads to numerous human rights violations. AN UNRESOLVED ARMED CONFLICT In 2016, the signing of the peace accords in Havana between the Colombian government and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) officially ended the armed conflict. However, the peace process has not yet fully concluded. Negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas have been suspended and paramilitary groups and drug trafficking continue to rise. Despite the establishment, laid down by the accords, of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) intended to facilitate national reconciliation and help the victims of the conflict, the Colombian population continues to suffer from violations. Defence lawyers face pressure that obstructs their work. ©Equipo Juridico Pueblos REPRESSION OF SOCIAL PROTESTS In 2021, the country‘s citizens demonstrated against the government over a proposed tax reform that would negatively affect them. Repressing these protests, the government responded with a brutal attack on the rule of law denounced by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as well as many national and international organisations. This has given rise to a dramatic increase in the demand for legal assistance for victims of detention, torture, disappearance, sexual assault and other attacks. Lawyers retained to take on these cases are […]
COLOMBIA: Joint letter: Death threats against CCAJAR’s lawyers
[Photo: Edgar Jimenez / Flickr] The International Observatory of Lawyers at Risk together with other signatory organisations have sent a joint letter to Colombian President Ivan Duque to express their concern for the safety of members of the Colombian human rights law firm, Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (“CCAJAR”), in connection to the death threats recently issued against CCAJAR in a pamphlet issued in the name of “Águilas Negras”. Access the full document HERE.
Afghanistan: The Afghanistan Independent Bars Association stormed by the Taliban
Farid Ershad/ Unsplash / 2021 November 23, 2021 On Tuesday, November 23, 2021, fifty armed Taliban took control of the Afghanistan Independent Bars Association (AIBA) by force. During their violent intrusion, they ordered the verification of all contracts signed by the Bar Association with foreigners. The Taliban also seized funds belonging to the 2,500 lawyers who finance the Bar Association. These actions seriously jeopardize the integrity of the Bar Association and professional secrecy. AIBA is one of the only bar associations in the world that has a quota of women on all executive committees and at least one vice president must be a woman. At this time, it is unclear what impact the “nationalization” of the Afghanistan Bar Association will have specifically on women leaders of the Bar Association. This attack against the bar is part of the process of deconstruction of the rule of law in Afghanistan since the seizure of power by the Taliban on August 15, 2021, and follows in particular the takeover of the Ministry of Justice on access to the profession. Indeed, from now on, all lawyers in the country who have a license with the AIBA will have to acquire a new license from […]
PHILIPPINES: Letter of objection to the candidacy of Mr. Herminio “Harry” Roque Jr. to the United Nations International Law Commission
[Unsplash / Mathias P.R. Reding / May 2020]. The Observatory has sent a letter to the authorities of France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain expressing its opposition to the candidacy of Mr. Herminio “Harry” Roque Jr. to the United Nations International Law Commission. As an official spokesperson for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity for extrajudicial killings and other violations in his so-called “war on drugs”, Mr. Roque has publicly defended and justified attacks on human rights, justice, due process and the rule of law. Access the full document HERE.
NICARAGUA: The legal team of the association “ACCIÓN PENAL” forced to continue its work defending political prisoners from exile
[Flickr / Alexander Schimmeck 2018] Lawyers of Acción Penal have been forced to continue their work from exile after being under constant attack for their legal defence of political prisoners. Acción Penal is an association created by criminal lawyers, all of whom previously worked as prosecutors in the Nicaraguan Public Ministry. This association was created in February 2019 to respond to the need for legal defence of political prisoners and legal assistance to victims of repression, in the context of the social and political crisis affecting Nicaragua. Acción Penal is composed of a permanent team of three lawyers who work occasionally with three other associate lawyers. The members of Acción Penal work to assist persons deprived of their liberty who are protesting for the respect of human rights in Nicaragua. In this way they promote access to free and quality legal defence, the creation of specialised documentation recording human rights violations, as well as the filing of legal actions against the Nicaraguan state for these violations. Acción Penal’s legal team has been working in a hostile context when dealing with legal issues related to the social and political crisis of April 2018. State repression has increased in the context of […]
RUSSIA: Open letter: Concern about the safety and independence of Mr Ivan Pavlov
14th of October 2021 The OIAD has addressed an open letter to the Minister of Justice The Russian Federation to assert the concern for the safety and independence of the Lawyer Ivan Pavlov. Access the full document HERE.
Turkey: Fact-finding mission from 15 to 20 September 2021 : 18th hearing of the trial of lawyers Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Barkın Timtik, detained for 5 years
From 15 to 20 September 2021, an international delegation of lawyers representing several organisations, including the OIAD, returned to Turkey in the course of a fact-finding mission to visit imprisoned lawyers and attend their trials. This mission followed the last trial monitoring mission, carried out in April 2021, which concerned the OCH (Law Office for the People) and CHD I (Association of Progressive Lawyers) cases, involving lawyers who are members of human rights associations. The arrest and imprisonment of these lawyers has already been denounced by the OIAD and many international actors for violating the principles of a fair trial, and the rights of the defence. For more details, see the mission report recently published by the OIAD. On September 15, 2021, Jacopo Ograbek, mandated by the OIAD, attended the hearing of lawyers Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Barkın Timtik, who have been in pre-trial detention for 5 years for, among other things, “belonging to a terrorist organization”. They are being tried by the Istanbul Criminal Court n°18, after a review by the Turkish Court of Cassation which decided to overturn the appealed judgment. They are appearing in two cases that were irregularly joined following the decision of the Court of Cassation. […]
Belarus : OIAD denounces and condemns the harassment of lawyers
Alexander Lukashenko’s election for a sixth term in August 2020, after being in power for 26 years, has raised a wave of protests and demonstrations in Belarus. Indeed, his 80% election victory raised serious doubts as to the legality of the election. Consequently, the climate of tension that prevails since the election between the demonstrators and opponents of the regime on the one hand and government forces on the other has increasingly worsened lawyers’ working conditions. Lawyers who provide legal assistance to anti-government protesters are being threatened with arrest, license suspension and even disbarment. According to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), since the summer of 2020, more than 23 lawyers have been disbarred. The justifications for these disbarments are often debated. For example, the Belarusian lawyer Mikhail Kirilyuk, who provided legal representation to a protester, was threatened and had his license revoked for making “rude comments” and “unacceptable public statements” about government officials. More recently, on 6 September 2021, the lawyer Maksim Znak was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “plotting to seize power by unconstitutional means”, “creating and leading an extremist group”, and “calling for actions undermining national security” on the media. He had been providing […]
THE PHILIPPINES: Official Launch of the Final Report on human rights by INVESTIGATE PH
OIAD informs that the official launch of the final report on human rights violations in the Philippines by the Independent International Commission of Investigation into Human Rights Violations in the Philippines (INVESTIGATE PH) will take place on 13 September 2021. CLICK HERE for details and to register.
AFGHANISTAN : OIAD members mobilise to assist lawyers and civilians at risk
The member Bars of the OIAD are deeply concerned about the collapse of the Afghan government and the takeover of power by the Taliban leadership. They stress that this situation implies an inexorable deterioration of rights and freedoms in Afghanistan. The risk of persecution is particularly serious for women and children, ethnic, religious and homosexual minorities as well as human rights defenders and Afghans who have come to the aid of foreign countries. The Paris Bar and the French National Bar Council, the Consiglio Nazionale de Forense and the Consejo General de la Abogacia Espanola immediately communicated their solidarity and mobilised to help not only Afghan lawyers but also to all civilians in danger who request it. The Paris Bar calls for the urgent evacuation of all civilians at risk to ensure their protection. For the President of the Paris Bar Olivier Cousi, “it is essential that foreign governments grant visas as a matter of urgency for civilians who might be targeted by the Taliban. (…) Suspending all deportations to Afghanistan is an absolute necessity and Afghans fleeing their country must be given real opportunities to obtain asylum”. The lawyers of the Conseil National des Barreaux recall that France […]
Pegasus Project: human rights lawyers among those targeted in the large-scale espionage attack
A massive data breach reveals that the Pegasus spyware, designed by the Israeli company NSO Group, has been used by governments to surveil lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and politicians around the world. The leak of a database, created since 2016, with more than 50,000 phone numbers, suggests that these professionals and activists were selected to be tapped through the Pegasus spyware. NSO Group’s creation, once installed on the victim’s phone, allows the attacker to access all the phone’s activity, as well as record it. For its part, the company insists that Pegasus is only intended for the prosecution of terrorists and criminals. However, it is alarming that the tool has been sold to some of the countries with the highest number of international complaints of human rights violations and that the profiles of those selected as surveillance targets are mostly lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and government opponents. These actions are particularly serious as they are attacks against operators who work for the defence of human rights in their respective professions. The OIAD particularly regrets the number of lawyers targeted in the leaked data, including London-based lawyer Rodney Dixon, who represents high-profile human rights cases. In addition, enquiries also […]
Honduras: David Castillo found guilty of masterminding Berta Cáceres’ murder
David Castillo, one of the directors of the Honduran electricity company DESA, was found guilty on Monday 5 July of being the mastermind of the murder of environmentalist leader Berta Cáceres. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for 3 August, when the sentence will be announced. Berta’s family and legal representatives have described the ruling as “a historic step in the fight against impunity for crimes committed against human rights defenders”, as it is the first time that the director of one of the companies involved in this type of crime has been convicted of being the mastermind. The judges based their decision on the information gathered from the mobile devices, which allowed them to establish the plan to assassinate Cáceres and put an end to the opposition she represented to the hydroelectric construction project on the Gualcarque River. In addition, the legal team stressed that the evidence gathered in this process would be used to demonstrate the involvement of more powerful actors such as the Atala Zablah family, owners of the company who has important political connections. The prosecutor’s office has assured that it is working on this investigation. The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger has been participating since […]
COLOMBIA: Constitutional Court orders the transfer of the Dilan Cruz case to Ordinary Jurisdiction
The Colombian Constitutional Court issued on 17 June 2021 a statement on the matter of jurisdiction review in the Dilan Cruz case. The OIAD submitted an Amicus Curiae brief to the Court on this matter. The Dilan Cruz case refers to the killing of the young man by a member of the National Police during the 2019 National Strike demonstrations in Colombia. So far, the case has been assigned to the Military Criminal Jurisdiction. However, the Constitutional Court, in line with the OIAD Amicus Curiae, reiterated that the natural judge is a guarantee of due process for both the accused and the victims. Likewise, it indicated that, in the specific area of criminal law, the natural jurisdiction is the ordinary one. In this regard, he recalled that the competence of other jurisdictions, and in particular the Military Criminal Justice system, is restricted and exceptional. In the specific case, the Court ruled that the criminal proceedings against the captain of the National Police for the death of Dilan Cruz should be transferred to the Ordinary Jurisdiction, thus protecting the fundamental rights of the victims to due process and to have an effective judicial remedy. Read HERE the statement of the Constitutional […]
THE PHILIPPINES: ATTACKS AGAINST LAWYERS FURTHER ESCALATING
24th June 2021 OIAD together with 29 organisations sign a joint statement on the continuing attacks against lawyers in the Philippines. Attacks against lawyers in the Philippines continue to take place and killings have reached a record high since the start of President Duterte’s administration five years ago. Through the joint statement we express our deep concern over the attacks and the oppressive working environment lawyers still face in the Philippines. We call again on the Duterte Government to adequately protect the safety and independence of lawyers and end the culture of impunity in which these attacks occur. Read the full statement HERE.
COLOMBIA: The OIAD file an Amicus Curiae brief in the “Dilan Cruz Case”
The International Observatory of Lawyers in Danger (OIAD) submits an Amicus Curiae brief to the Constitutional Court of Colombia in the “Dilan Cruz Case”. The Dilan Cruz case refers to the killing of the young man by a member of the National Police, during the 2019 National Strike demonstrations in Colombia. The lawyer Fernando Rodríguez Kekhan is a member of the legal team of the committee in solidarity with political prisoners in Colombia, and represents the interests of the family of the young Dilan Cruz. The presentation of the amicus curiae responds to the actions of the OIAD in accompanying Fernando Rodríguez Kekhan, in the context of risk in which he carries out his work as a lawyer. The amicus provides a legal analysis on the importance of serious human rights violations such as the present one not being studied within the Military Criminal Jurisdiction. This special jurisdiction restrain the respect of due process and victims’ rights. Specifically, the Colombian Constitutional Court is asked to recognise the competence of the ordinary jurisdiction in the Dilan Cruz case. In such a way that the lawyer can exercise the guarantees of participation in accordance with due process, without risks, threats […]
MEXICO: The OIAD files an Amicus Curiae brief in the “Digna Ochoa” case
May 24th, 2021 The International Observatory of Endangered Lawyers (OIAD) and the Spanish Lawyers Foundation have submitted an Amicus Curiae brief to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court H.R) in the case “Family of Digna Ochoa y Placido v. Mexico”. Digna Ochoa y Plácido was a Mexican human rights lawyer who died violently on 19 October 2001 after having been the target of threats for years for reasons associated with her professional work. The elements of analysis and context offered to the I/A Court H.R through the amicus brief lead to the conclusion that the ideal conditions did not exist to ensure the protection of Digna Ochoa y Plácido, regarding the threats and the situation of risk that arose as a consequence of them. In other words, the public authorities failed in their duty to guarantee the victim’s protection, which includes investigating the threats received during the previous years. Although the lawyer had been granted protective measures by the Court, these measures were withdrawn two months before her murder on 19 October 2001. The amicus is mainly based on the findings described in the Report of the Spanish Lawyers Fondation “Impunity and Defencelessness: Case of Fernández Ortega […]
Press release of the OIAD
The Consiglio Nazionale Forense (Italy), with lawyer Francesco Caia, assumes the Presidency of the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger (OIAD) for this year. 5 May 2021 The President Victoria Ortega Benito handed over of the Presidency at the end of the General Assembly held on April 29, 2021 in accordance with the statute, which provides for the annual rotation of the Presidency among the founding members of the Observatory (Conseil National des Barreaux (France), Conseil National Forense (Italy), Consejo General de la Abogacía Española (Spain), Ordre des Avocats de Paris. The Geneva Bar Association and the Milan Bar Association are elected members of the OIAD Board. Five years have passed since the foundation of the OIAD, which main aim is to support lawyers all over the world who are threatened and persecuted by arbitrary arrests and convictions only because they are guilty of faithfully exercising the defensive mandate, in the exclusive interest of the client, without yielding to the pressures of governments and authoritarian regimes. Many are physically attacked and injured or even pay with their lives for their commitment. Currently, more than forty bar associations, including non-Europeans, are members of the OIAD. «I thank the President Ortega, all […]
Honduras: The trial of Roberto David Castillo Mejía, the instigator of Berta Cáceres’ assassination
The trial of Roberto David Castillo Mejía in the Berta Cáceres case began on April 6, 2021. The Expert Observation Mission (in which the International Observatory of Endangered Lawyers (OIAD) took part) has monitored the entire case and is currently supervising the trial. The president of the OIAD and of the General Council of Spanish Lawyers, Victoria Ortega, has dedicated a few words of support to the legal team of the victims in the trial and has wished that the process takes place with all the legal guarantees. Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores, the general coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH), was assassinated on March 2, 2016 for her active opposition to the “Agua Zarca”. The latter is an hydroelectric project built by the DESA company on the territory of the Lenca indigenous in southwestern Honduras. L’OIAD was initially involved in the case though its’ support to Víctor Fernández (a threatened lawyer), COPINH’s legal representative who took on the representation in court of the leader’s family and to COPINH as a victim of Berta Cáceres’ assassination. In 2018, seven people were sentenced as co-authors in the murder of Berta Cáceres. The OIAD carried out […]
Press release: Expert mission to Observe Trial for Murder of Berta Cáceres
Honduras: The trial for the intellectual authorship of the murder of Berta Cáceres Honduras begins The Expert Observation Mission in which the International Qualified Observation Mission in which the International Observatory of Lawyers in Danger (OIAD) participates, has issued a press release on the beginning of the trial for the murder of Berta Cáceres: Honduras: Expert mission to Observe Trial for Murder of Berta Cáceres The Americas/Europe April 6, 2021 In light of the upcoming trial of the Berta Cáceres Case, the Expert Observation Mission calls on the State of Honduras to guarantee the application of international standards and national norms that lead to truth, comprehensive justice and reparations in a case of global interest. Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores, General Coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), was assassinated on March 2, 2016. In addition to the defense of territory, she worked to assert the cultural rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as women’s rights. As a result of her struggle and advocacy work, Berta Cáceres was the victim of numerous threats and campaigns of stigmatization, harassment and criminalization, which led the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to grant her precautionary measures during […]
TURKEY: Postcards Solidarity Operation for 10 detained lawyers
Take action! 5th April, on the International lawyer’s day in Turkey, the International Observatory of Lawyers in Danger launches a fraternity card operation, intended for 10 lawyers currently in jail, in order to demonstrate the support from the international community of lawyers. The OIAD aims to support and and invite the international community to visibilize the situation of lawyers in Turkey. The targeted lawyers are: Selcuk Kozagacli Barkin Timtik Behic Asci Oya Arslan Yaprak Türkmen Süleyman Gökten Özgür Yilmaz Engin Gökoglu Aycan Cicek Aytac Ünsal. Click on the name of each lawyer to access to the corresponding postcard that you may print, share and publish freely. These postcards must mandatorily be written in Turkish language. If not, they will not be transmitted to their recipient. You may of course sign your postcards. The content is the following: Dear (Name of the lawyer recipient), As the International Observatory of Lawyers in Danger, we wish to emphasise that you constantly remain in our thoughts. Be assured of our warmest feelings and of our solidarity. The OIAD encourages you to take action on this solidarity operation. A warm thank you for your support!
Legal Office of Indigenous Peoples and Chomij’a Indigenous Women Lawyers’ Association
GUATEMALA: The Legal Office of Indigenous Peoples and the Chomij’a Indigenous Women Lawyers’ Association condemns the act of intimidation following the burglary that occurred at their offices. 31 March 2021 During the weekend of 20-21 March, the offices of the Legal Office of Indigenous Peoples and the Chomij’a Indigenous Women Lawyers’ Association were violently broken into. The Legal office of Indigenous Peoples has renowned experience in the support of various communities and human rights defenders, in particular defenders of the natives’ lives and territories. The office is currently involved in legal procedures related to the recovery of ancestral lands and the defence of human rights defenders. Regarding the Chomij’a Indigenous Women Lawyers’ Association, it includes professionals specialised in the legal defence of rights, in particular those of indigenous women and of communities. On 22 March, in the morning, the attack was reported by one of the organisation’s workers who had arrived and discovered the destruction and lack of equipment in the offices. At 9 a.m., the National Civil Police (PNC) and the Public Prosecutor’s Office arrived to start the investigation. Approximately 8 computers were stolen, as well as the server that contains the security camera recordings of the premises and […]
Documents of interest: Informational Brochure Report DEL Foundation: Azerbaijan
Webinar: Justice Under Siege
A view from human rights to the situation of lawyers and judiciaries in Guatemala.
Webinar: Human Rights and Legal Mechanisms in Colombia
A special focus on the situation of the legal profession.
Invitation to the Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the United Nations
Invitation to the Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
Turkey: Arrest of 60 people
Arrest of 60 people including 48 lawyers, 7 student lawyers, 3 judges, 1 court auditor and a lawyer.
Lawyers in Venezuela at risk
OIAD wants to express its concern about the legal profession in Venezuela.
The OIAD nominates American lawyer Steven Donziger.
The OIAD nominates American lawyer Steven Donziger for the International Bar Association Human Rights Award.
OIAD takes parts in a fact finding mission in Turkey
The objective is to examine and document violations of the right to a fair trial.
The OIAD nominates Pakistani lawyer Saïf ul-Malook
The OIAD nominates Pakistani lawyer Saïf ul-Malook for the American Bar Association Human Rights Award.
Nominated for the CCBE 2020 Human Rights Award
Egyptians lawyers’ duo nominated for the CCBE 2020 Human Rights Award.
Public announcement on the deterioration of the situation of lawyers in Turkey
Public announcement on the deterioration of the situation of lawyers in Turkey.
The Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh nominated
The Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh nominated for the Freedom Prize Let’s vote for her!
Turkey: Call for release of lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal
Call for release of lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal, on hunger strike since 5 April.
Documents of interest: Informational Brochure Mobilisation Kit Petition DEL Coalition Report DEL Coalition: Pakistán (EN)
COLOMBIA: Carta conjunta: Germán Romero Sánchez en alto riesgo debido a su labor de abogado de víctimas de vulneraciones de derechos humanos.
[Foto: Jorge Mahencha / Wikipedia] 30 de octubre de 2019 Las organizaciones firmantes expresa su profunda preocupación por los repetidos ataques y amenazas a la integridad personal y profesional del Germán Romero Sánchez abogado perteneciente a la Asociación Red de Defensores y Defensoras de Derechos Humanos- DH Colombia. Accede al documento completo AQUÍ.
Documents of interest: Informational Brochure Report DEL Coalition: Turkey
Documents of interest: Informational Brochure (FR) Report DEL Coalition
Documents of interest: Petition DEL Coalition Report DEL Coalition: China
Documents of interest: Briefing on the situation Report DEL Coalition: Honduras