The General Assembly of the European Bars Federation (FBE) in Lisbon 26 October 2019, which represents 250 member Bars of Europe and their 1 million member lawyers, expressed its grave concerns for the globally based severe violation of the lawyers’ rights and lack of effective protection for the legal profession.
Having regard to the fundamental role of the lawyers in the judicial system, crucial for strengthening the Rule of Law and defending individual human rights, and
Having regard to the need each state to provide a high standard of protection against all forms of violence, harassment, threats, imprisonment, surveillance, enforced disappearances and murders of lawyers, and
In accordance with the FBE constant position and responsibility for protection of human rights of every single individual and the constant position that lawyers shall at all times be guaranteed in order to maintain the honour and dignity of their profession as essential agents of the administration of justice.
FBE reminds that each state has the positive obligation to ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference,
FBE reminds that lack of effective remedies for protection of lawyers’ rights leads to the impossibility the legal profession to be exercised freely, independently and in accordance to its basic principles, which ruins the democracy and threatens the Rule of Law,
REQUEST the national authorities to establish a legal framework providing adequate safeguard of the legal profession when the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions.
FBE STATES its preparedness to support this process and to provide assistance to all national bars during the advocacy campaign in order to implement the international standards for protection of profession of the lawyer.
The FBE strongly condemns the murder of Mr. Derk Wiersum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, on September 18, 2019.
The FBE expresses its sorrow about the rise in the number of threats and attacks against all members of the legal profession.
It calls upon governments to take all steps necessary to prevent violence against members of the legal profession.
On Saturday 26 October 2019, the General Assembly of the FBE meeting in Lisbon, expressed its grave concern at the death threats received by Human Rights lawyer, German Romero, on 3 October 2019 in a campaign of intimidation, which has included the theft of his computer containing confidential information. Mr Romero represents victims of state agents in high profile cases, such as the massacre at the Palace of Justice in Bogotá in1985.
The Federation, which represents more than 1 million European lawyers, calls upon the Colombian government to provide effective protection for Mr Romero, and to improve the criminal justice system to put an end to the threats, attacks and killings of human rights defenders.
UIA (Internationa Association of Lawyers) has been following the situation of lawyers in the Philippines for a few years.
Lawyers have been indeed the target of increasing attacks and are facing an oppressive working environment. At least 42 lawyers and prosecutors have been killed between July 2016 and September 5, 2019 including 24 practicing lawyers. Lawyers are also harassed and intimidated: they are subjected to (death) threats, surveillance, labelling, and other forms of attacks. Many of the lawyers have been “red-tagged” over allegations they support communist rebel groups.
Most of these attacks against lawyers took place as a result of discharging professional duties or are seemingly work-related. Especially at risk are lawyers representing people accused of terrorist or drug-related crimes, or those who are critical of the government’s policies or behaviour, such as journalists, political opposition leaders, and human rights defenders.
On March 14-18, 2019, an international delegation of lawyers representing various lawyers’ groups, including UIA, reported from Manilla after a fact-finding mission about the alarming situation on the Philippines.
Dutch Organization Lawyers for Lawyers initiated the statement signed for more than 150 bars, organizations and individual lawyers.
UIA, Lawyers for Lawyers and more than 150 bar associations, international and national lawyer’s organizations, and legal professionals from 49 countries around the world called on the Government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to stop the attacks against and extrajudicial killings of lawyers and to end the culture of impunity in which these attacks occur.
The above report was made in cooperation with our Friend Ms Romina BOSSA ABIVEN Human Rights and Legal Profession Project Assistant, Paris/France.
The FBE Human Rights Commission, not indifferent to the situation observed in Turkey over the years, began the Turkey Trial Observation Project over two years ago.
The FBE has expressed its support for the rule of law and freedom of speech in Turkey for many years. Over the past 10 years, six resolutions have been adopted in support of respect for human rights in Turkey in the widest sense of the area. FBE members regularly support all initiatives to protect human rights in Turkey by participating as observers our colleagues’ lawyers and journalists trials in Turkey.
The FBE Human Rights Commission has also actively joined these activities not only by participating in the trials as the observers, but also by conducting various discussions with other lawyers, officials, taking part in bilateral meetings, petitioning various types of petitions, supporting resolutions or appearing as a speaker at congresses in Turkey (“Dark Side of the Moon”/September 2018).
“In July 2019 lawyers from France, Greece, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands (Peter Hanenberg/Nardy Desloover) observed several hearings in Istanbul (Turkey). All cases were criminal cases against lawyers who are accused of terrorist related activities. In the three particular cases, the lawyers involved all share the same line of defence: they were representing and defending clients and – therewith – were doing nothing else than fulfilling their duty as a defence lawyer.
Since (roughly) 2011 there have been numerous cases against professionals who have allegedly acted in favour of terrorists or criticasters of the Turkish regime. Amongst them lawyers, but also journalists, academics, judges, union leaders et cetera. Lawyers have to face the governmental starting point: If you help or assist someone who is critical or even a (supposed) terrorist, you yourself are acting as a terrorist. Thereby the Havana Rules (f.i. article 18: Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes…) are trampled or – more mildly worded – ignored.
Many lawyers have been (or still are) detained in pre-trial custody for many years (up to 5 years!). Recently, in March 2019, lawyers were convicted to long time prison sentences (up to 19 years!). Evidence often looks thin and stories about manipulation of proof are persistent. Exercising one’s legal profession is a hazardous activity.
Especially because the eminent function of the legal profession is at stake, it is of great importance to monitor hearings against lawyers. It is important to show solidarity with the lawyers involved and to hammer continuously on the importance of the (independent) legal profession and its essential role in the rule of law.
Therefore, trial observation is only a part (though important) of the unfolded activities. Discussions are frequent with the local and national Bar associations, as well as with representatives of all kind of law firms. Impartiality – not regarding the rule of law, but – in the cases pending is important. Though all foreign lawyers sympathise with the accused, we don’t express prepossession. We do not interfere in the question whether a persecuted lawyer is guilty or not guilty, but we do express and emphasize that identification of a lawyer with his or her client is a gross negation of the Basic Principles as laid down in the Havana Rules. Drawing attention to those principles can never be excessive.”
The above report was made in cooperation with our Friend Mr Nardy Desloover (lawyer in Rotterdam/the Netherlands) who works tightly with us.
A l’invitation de l’ordre national des avocats, les avocats tunisiens organisent le 27 septembre 2019 une journée de colère sur l’ensemble du territoire devant les juridictions du pays.
Ce mouvement est mené en protestation contre les déclarations du président de l’Association des Magistrats Tunisiens, qui accuse les avocats du collectif de défense des martyrs, Bélaïd et Brahmi d’avoir envahi de force le bureau du procureur de la République et saccagé son contenu. Le bâtonnier de l’ordre des avocats, Brahim Bouderbala, a fermement contesté ces accusations en déclarant qu’ un groupe de magistrats entend engager un bras de fer avec les avocats.
La FBE entend apporter tout son soutien au barreau tunisien, membre observateur de la FBE et appelle à un dialogue constructif entre avocats et magistrats.
The European Bars Federation (FBE), which brings together 250 Bars representing 1 million lawyers, supports its French Bars Associations and colleagues who will demonstrate on Monday, September 16, in Paris, at the call of the French National Bar Council against the draft law Reform on pensions.
“Any weakening of the pensions of lawyers threatens access to the law” worries Silvia GIMENEZ SALINAS, President of the FBE.
Lawyers of France are objecting the proposals in the report presented to the government which provides for a doubling of their contributions, a stagnation or even a regression of their pensions and the merger of their autonomous pension system into a universal scheme by points.
“No profession can sustain the burden of a doubling of its social contributions” Denounces Dominique ATTIAS, FBE Vice-President and former Paris Bar Vice-President. “What is at stake is the future of our profession and with it, the future of justice and law”.
The FBE will be represented in the manifestation that will start Monday, September 16 at 14:00 from the Place de l’Opera, in Paris, to reach the Place de la Nation.
Jordi Crisol. FBE Press Manager
(+34) 626 049 638
INTERMEDIATE MEETING – 24-26 october 2019, Lisbon
We had passion, we had logic, we had statute and precedent, and we had ancient history and philosophy from Greece and Rome. The Young Lawyers Human Rights Oratory Competition of the FBE demonstrated how strong the commitment of young Europeans is to human rights.
The competition was held in the Hans Litten House, the offices of the Rechtsanwaltkammer (RAK). Nezih Ulkekul of the RAK gave a warm and well received welcome, and thanks were given to the representatives of the RAK from the President of the Human Rights commission, Artur Wierzbicki.
The 18 candidates from 12 bar associations presented legal argument in English to a panel of 5 judges. President of the FBE Human Rights Commission, Artur Wierzbicki presided over the panel as President, and Monique Stengel, from Paris and FBE Treasurer represented the Presidency of the FBE, Marc Wesser, Vice President of the Commission and member of the Berlin Bar, Bedia Ayşegül Tansen of the Istanbul Bar and Professor Sara Chandler QC (Hon) Past President of the FBE, joined Mr Wierzbicki on the panel.
The topic for the competition was “Freedom of Speech”. The 18 semi-finalists presented well prepared speeches which were varied in their approach to the legal argument as well in their oratory style. It was a hard task for the panel to choose four to be the finalists on Day Two. The topic for day two “The criminalisation of those who facilitate the travel of refugees is against human rights” was treated in debate style, with two for and two against. In each team one candidate presented and the second speaker rebutted. The candidates had only 2 hours to research and prepare their debate speeches. The judges put a question to all of them to test their spontaneous responses, and heard from the four candidates what each would do to draft legislation in respect of human trafficking.
The result was:
1st: Fatima Oraibi from Antwerp;
2nd: Sophie Lucas from Westminster & Holborn;
3rd: Ronald Elek, from Cluj;
4th: Julide Hancer from Istanbul.
Fatima Oraibi will attend the FBE Congress in Lisbon 24 -26 October to attend the Human Rights Commission and receive her prize and recognition from the General Assembly. She will receive a further Award from the Krakow Bar in April in memory of Mr MarianAnczyk, of the Krakow Bar and last President of the Grandes Barreaux d’ Europe, and co-founder with Mr Eugenio Guy Montalvo of the FBE, Mr Eugenio Guy, former Dean of the Barcelona Bar was the first President of the FBE in 1992.
The other semi-finalists were:
Natalia Wachowiak from Poznan; Agnieszka Całka from Warsaw; Bérénice Dago-Pavlopoulos from Lyon; Trinidad Alonso from Madrid; Simranjit Digpal from South London Law Society; Andrea Lazzaron from Milan; Oriana Maria Elajalde Martins from Bilbao; Benjamin Pass from Westminster & Holborn; Paola Chamorros Cuenca from Madrid; Pawel Matyja from Katowice; Zuzanna Morawska-Zakroczymka from Warsaw; Cristina Prunea Anda from Cluj; Shira Notrika from South London Law Society; Martyna Kasperska from Warsaw.
All participants were GREAT !
The FBE IIIrd Human Rights Oratory Competition for young lawyers and law students in 2020 is planned in Bilbao/Spain.
EVERYONE IS WELCOME !