FBE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – WIRETAPS

Recently, the Italian medias have been released news about wiretaps involving lawyers, while they were talking with their clients or consultants, during the preliminary investigations leaded by one of Italian Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The facts that have occurred, as reported by the press and confirmed by the Institutions, must be investigated with determination.

In whole Europe, anyway, we are observing increasing limitations of Lawyers’ rights, sacrificed on the altar of security at all costs.

 The secrecy of communications between lawyer and client, which is one of the pillars of the right of defence, guaranteed by the fundamental principle by the European Union, cannot be profaned.

The lawyers must carry out their job, defending and representing the client, because they are the full holders of the rights attributed to them by Art. 6 of the ECHR and Art. 47 and 48 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as broadly and freely as possible.

In order to fully carry out his mandate, the lawyers must be free to talk with their clients and their consultant in absolute freedom, i.e. without their conversations being, even indirectly, subject to wiretapes.

In a procedural system (which should be) based on the principle of equality between the defence and the prosecution, it is unacceptable that the defensive strategy developed by the Defender in the conversations with the client or his consultants can be “picked up” by his procedural counterpart. 

The FBE, worried about this increasing issues in whole Europe, supports the respect of Rule of Law and calls for Governments  nad responsible institutions intervention to stigmatise these behaviours and to promote respect for the European Convention on Human Rights.

 

Text prepared by

Mr Michele Calantropo, FBE HRC MEMBER

HELP ONLINE COURSE : Ethics for Judges, Prosecutors and Lawyers

Background

The state of rule of law is an increasing concern in respect of many European countries. ln recent years concerted efforts have been made at European level to prevent degradation of the rule of law through measures aimed at the well-functioning of national justice systems.

ln the Council of Europe (CoE) Plan of Action on Strengthening Judicial lndependence and lmpartiality it  is stated that “On/y an independent and impartial  judiciary can provide the basis for the fair and just reso/ution of Jegal disputes, particu/arly those between the individua/ and the State. ln this context, it is recal/ed that al/ member States have undertaken, under Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, to guarantee access to independent and impartial tribunais, whenever civil rights or obligations are in issue or criminai charges are to be determined; and in respect of which the European Court of Human Rights has developed a wide jurisprudence. (… ) lt is of primordial importance that judicial independence and impartiality exists in fact and is secured by Jaw, and that public confidence in the judiciary, where it has been fast, is restored and maintained.”

Among other measures, the Plan of Action requires States to ensure comprehensive and effective training of the judiciary in effective judicial competences and ethics.

At European Union (EU) level, the 2020 Rule of Law report stated that “Effective justice systems are essential for upho/ding the rule of Jaw. lndependence, quality and efficiency are the defined parameters of an effective justice system, whatever the mode/ of the national Jegal system and tradition in which it is anchored. (… )The independence of national courts is fundamental to ensuring such judicial protection. (… ) Despite reform efforts in a number of Member States to enhance judicial independence, developments raise concerns in a few of them.”

Judges, prosecutors, and lawyers occupy a critical and sensitive place in society; the way they conduct themselves directly impacts on public confidence and on the administration of justice. Therefore, they have a duty to maintain the highest of ethical behavior.

There are international standards providing guidance on ethical conduct and on the core principles  of these professions. lndependence, impartiality and integrity underpin the rule of law in a healthy democracy and guarantee the protection of human rights.

About the course

To address these issues, the HELP course on “Ethics for Judges, Prosecutors and Lawyers” covers in an interactive way the key concepts and principles, the International and European (CoE and EU) framework as well as the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). lt is aimed at deepening the knowledge and  understanding  of  professional  tools  and  at developing reflective skills, based on practical examples, to address ethical dilemmas in the performance of professional duties.

 

Resolution of the Eastern Bars Commission and Human Rights Commission of the FBE – Romania

The European Bars Federation (FBE), which represents 250 member Bars of Europe and their 1-million-member lawyers, taking into consideration the lawyers’ protests that erupted in Romania in recent months, as a result of the judicial decision of the ~Baneasa Farm~ case, expresses its grave concerns for the severe violation of the lawyers’ rights and of the rule of law, through:

  • client-attorney identification
  • prosecution of lawyers for crimes of opinion
  • breach of the principle of the authority of res judicata
  • hearings of judges as witnesses, in order to demonstrate the illegality of their own Decisions in related cases

Romanian authorities are demanding that the rights of lawyers and their independence, and the rule of law be respected, according to the Resolution 23488 (2020) and Recommendation 2188 (2020) of the Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Federation of European Bar Associations Press Release – Ruling of the Polish Constitutional Court of 15 April 2021

The Presidency of the European Bars Federation (FBE), an organisation representing 250 European bar associations and over 1,000,000 lawyers,  expresses its concern about the ruling of the Polish Constitutional Court of 15 April 2021, which declared that it is unconstitutional for the Polish Ombudsman to continue to perform the Ombudsman’s  duties after the expiry of the term of his office if no successor has been elected.

The FBE presidency notes with deep concern that the result of such decision may be that the citizens of a democratic country which is a member state of the EU may be denied the right  to  seek  protection of their fundamental human rights and freedoms from the Ombudsman in case such rights are threatened by the governmental  authorities.

The FBE Presidency would like to emphasize that, in a democratic society, the Ombudsman is an authority independent of the governmental agencies and therefore protects the rights and freedoms of human beings and citizens and at the same time guarantees that all vulnerable citizens, regardless of their social and economic status, political views, gender or any other features will not be left without assistance.

The FBE Presidency believes that ensuring the continuity of the office of the Ombudsman is an obligation of a democratic state adhering to the rule of law.

Therefore, the FBE Presidency expresses its wish that in the near future the mandate of the Ombudsman office in Poland will be effectively filled by a candidate who will guard the rights and freedoms of citizens and human beings in a manner independent of the authorities, following the example of Professor Adam Bodnar.

FBE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – International Memorial Event for EBRU TIMTIC

As it was earlier  announced o FBE website, on April 5, 2021 took place on- line the International Memorial Event for EBRU TIMTIC. There were almost 100 participants who had opportunity to say different ways good – bye to Ebru.

On behalf of FBE, I as the FBE President of the Human Rights Commission was honoured to be a keynote speaker that day.

Beneath I present you part of my Memorial speech dedicated to Ebru Timtic.

Dear All, Dear Organizer of this event,

That is great idea to held the international Memorial Event for EBRU TIMTIK, our Friend and the Great Lawyer.

FBE for a long time is involved in the situation of Turkish Lawyers in Turkey. For more than three years its Human Rights Commission with my chairing, started the project called “TURKISH TRIAL OBSERVATION PROJECT”. Many of our colleagues from the Commission and not only, take part in the Turkish lawyers trials in Turkey and conferences dedicated to them or the lawyers situation in Turkey.

We as Federation of European Bars also present our strong position and demand on that matter on FBE website www. fbe.org with our statements, articles and informations.

What’s important, the Presidency of the FBE in its meeting of 27 July, 2020 decided to support the Turkish Lawyers and  Ebru Timtik and others for their critical situation demanding a fairly judgement to the local Authorities.

In some words I would like to make a small background about Ebru

Ebru Timtik was the part of a group of eighteen lawyers who have been convicted and sentenced to long-term imprisonment. They all were known for their representation of clients who are considered opponents of the Turkish government. Officially those lawyers with Ebru have been in prison since September 12, 2018 on charges of membership in the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army/Front.

In a profoundly unfair trial, these lawyers have been sentenced to many years of imprisonment for alleged terrorist – related offences. Ebru has been sentenced to 13 years and 6 months for membership of a terrorist organisation.

Ebru announced that she would persist in her hunger strike even if it leads to her deaths.

Ebru Timtik was on hunger strike to strengthen her demand for fair trials and the administration of justice in Turkey.  Her wish was to ensure that the Turkish authorities observe the rule of law in Turkey. Unfortunately, after a 238-days hunger she passed away.

Ebru during the time of her imprisoned had support from outside and inside Turkey without doubt. We all asked that time the Turkish authorities and Courts for a fair trial and realizing them from the prison.

In recognition of her sacrifice, and in order to focus attention on the plight of those in countries around the globe who are facing prosecution in circumstances where fair trial principles are not being observed or respected I do confirm that a number of international bar associations and as well as lawyers organisations have come together to arrange an annual “International Fair Trial Day” which will be observed every year on 14 June.

Steps are also being undertaken to introduce a new annual Ebru Timtik Award to recognise an individual or an organisation who has or which has made an exceptional contribution towards securing fair trial rights in the country on which the International Fair Trial Day is focusing for the year in question. Each year a conference will be held, either online or at a physical location in a country chosen because of the level of concern with regard to the lack of respect for fair trial rights in that jurisdiction at that time.

Ayşe Bingöl Demir and Serife Ceren Uysal has already agreed that the first conference will be held as a virtual event on 14 June 2021 and will focus on fair trial rights in Turkey.

The steering group of “International Fair Trial Day and Ebru Timtik Award”  consists of: Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH), European Bars Federation (FBE), European Democratic Lawyers (EDL-AED), French National Bar Council (CNB), International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), International Association of Lawyers (UIA), International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), Italian National Bar Council (CNF), Law Society of England and Wales, Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L).

With this Memorail I also have to mention the FBE is also gravely concerned that Turkey has announced its withdrawal from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence called as the “Istanbul Convention”.

The FBE in its expressed position calls on the Turkish government to reconsider its decision and to uphold protection for women against violence, to avoid the potential situations as we had with Ebru and others.

The independence of all lawyers and all human beings must be respected according to international standards in the whole World.

And closing my short memorial speech about Ebru, thinking of her, come to my mind Ernest Hemingway and words from one of his novels:

“The man is not created failures. The man can be destroyed but never defeated”

EBRU, you stay in our memories and hearts forever.

 

Artur Wierzbicki

President of the FBE Human Rights Commission

International Memorial Event for Ebru Timtik : A life dedicated to the struggle – 05.04.21 at 18.30 CEST

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to inform you that we are organizing a memorial event for Ebru Timtik on the 5th of April at 18.30 pm (CEST) 

Please find attached the programme of the event (English version in CEST time) and the list of the organisations which will be represented at the event (the list is not conclusive and might be subject to changes).

Please allow yourself 15 minutes and join the conference earlier then the scheduled time as it might take time for us to let you in the online conference room from the Zoom waiting room. Please make sure that you access Zoom by using your FULL NAME and SURNAME. Otherwise it will be hard for the organisers to identify you and for the online security of the meeting we will not be able to allow you in.  

Please make sure you join the conference on your laptop/desktop (not mobile phone) and update the Zoom application on your devices to make sure you have access to the interpretation service and it works smoothly.  

To access the link for the event please use the registration link below. After the registration you will receive the meeting ID and password:

Time: April 5, 2020 18:30 PM Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna

Registration link:

http://bit.ly/ebrutimtikevent

The information to access the Zoom meeting will be only for your use and access. It is not to be shared with others or not to be made public.

During the event please make sure that your microphones are muted when not speaking. Please also note that using a headset, if possible, improves the sound quality and effective participation. 

For translation, please click on the interpretation, “globe”, icon on the Zoom screen and either click ‘English’ or ‘Korean’ (as Zoom does not list Turkish in its languages list). Also if you are on translation mode, please make sure that you “mute the original audio” which is listed also under the interpretation, “globe”, icon. 

Please note that the event will be recorded and there will be an online streaming via facebook account of Progressive Lawyers Association (https://www.facebook.com/chdgenelmerkez)

Please feel free to reach me, Ezgi or Charlotte, for any questions or issues you might have.

FBE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – “ISTANBUL CONVENTION” Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence

The FBE is gravely concerned that Turkey has announced its withdrawal from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (the “Istanbul Convention”) and supports the statement made on 20 March 2021 by UN Women which has highlighted the increase in reported violence against women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of measures such as lockdowns and disruptions to vital support services, which comes on top of the already-existing extreme levels of violence reaffirmed in the latest report by WHO.  

The pandemic revealed the gaps in our systems to respond to such violence and the acute need to respond firmly and with unity.  The solidarity of nations that comes with being part of international conventions is critical for a world that is free of the ‘shadow pandemic’ of violence against women. 

The FBE calls on the Turkish government to reconsider its decision and to uphold protection for women against violence.

Promotion and Equalities Committee – Questionnaire on professional equality

Dear All

The Promotion and Equalities Committee has drafted a questionnaire on professional equality covering a broad number of topics such as parity, parentality, revenues, et seq. (see enclosure). The aim of this questionnaire is to get a fair picture of all applicable rules and uses in force within our bars. Based on the collected answers we will propose some guidelines, summarizing the best practices as model of reference for the FBE.

We should be very grateful if you could fill in this questionnaire and return by April 17th at the latest to Valence Borgia, President of the Promotion and Equalities Committee (valence.borgia@medici.law).

The maximum of answers from the different bars will be helpful to cover the largest spectrum of practices and make our report relevant. Thank you in advance for your participation.

Let us know if you have any question.

Kind regards

Valence BORGIA

General Assembly – 19th of MARCH 2021 at 16:00 (CET)

AGENDA OF THE  GENERAL ASSEMBLY

19 MARCH 4.00 PM CET

 

16.00  Opening-speech of the current President Silvia Giménez-Salinas

16.15  Verification of the members who have received the link for this Assembly

16.30     Approval of the proposed amendment to the Statutes:

A paragraph will be inserted under article IX.A, as follows:

“u. In case the Presidency finds there are exceptional circumstances which make it   impossible to organise a General Assembly in person, the Presidency can organise a virtual General Assembly, allowing those members who paid their fee to discuss and vote on the matters submitted to them.

The virtual vote will be held under the same rules as a vote in person.  So every member will have at least one vote and one more for every bloc of 100 enlisted lawyers, including the final partial bloc, with a maximum of a total of 40 votes.

Only elections for which more than 1 candidate is nominated will be submitted to a secret election, organised electronically by the Presidency.”

Approval of the prolongation of the mandates as decided by the Presidency due to Covid-restrictions.

16.55     New Members: Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Las Palmas

17.00       Forum des Bâtonniers (ie topic. “The future of Bars after Covid-19”)

17.30     Report from certain Presidents of Commissions (3 minutes maximum)

17.45     Report of the Treasurer (written report) and Auditor and questions

17.50     Approval of the budget and discharge of the Treasurer.

17.55     Report from the Secretary-General (written report) and questions.

18.00     Discharge is given to the Presidency

Election of the following candidates for the Presidency:

  • President : Dominique ATTIAS (FR)
  • 1st Vice-President : Bas MARTENS (NL)
  • 2nd Vice-President : Izabela KONOPACKA (PL)

18.15     Closing speech of the new President.