Intervention letters – defending lawyers and human rights
Our Lawyers at Risk programme supports lawyers and human rights defenders who are subject to intimidation, arbitrary arrest or detention, or whose lives are at risk.
Read our intervention letters
We have signed a joint statement expressing our grave concern of the recent arrest of distinguished Iranian human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh. Nasrin has faced ongoing harassment because of her work, and was arrested on 29 October in Tehran, while attending the funeral of Armita Garavand, a 16-year-old girl who died following an incident with the Iranian Morality Police.
We have expressed our grave concern over the continuing detention of Xu Zhiyong, a lawyer in China. On 11 April 2023, Xu was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
We are concerned that Zhiyong’s detention is related to his professional duties as a lawyer, that his trial did not meet international fair trial standards and that he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment during his pre-trial detention.
We are also troubled that his trial was held in secret and that his own lawyers have been forced to sign confidentiality agreements, preventing them from publishing details documents relating to the charges, trial and verdict.
We are gravely concerned about the continuing detention of Hao Jinsong, a lawyer in China. In July 2023, Mr Jinsong was sentenced to nine years in prison.
As with Xu Zhiyong, we are worried that Mr Jinsong’s detention is related to his professional duties as a lawyer and that his trial did not meet international fair trial standards. We are alarmed that offences he has reportedly been charged with lack sufficient legal certainty, rendering his arrest and detention arbitrary.
We sent an intervention letter about the recent arrest of lawyers in Turkey. The Law Society is concerned about the arrest of Ceren Yilmaz, Fatih Gökçe, Bilgi Topçu and Ilgin Gökçe on 13 October 2023. These latest arrests form part of a pattern of harassment and intimidation of lawyers in Turkey.
We also sent an intervention letter about the recent arrest of three lawyers in Russia on 13 October 2023: Vadim Kobzev; Igor Sergunin and Alexei Liptser. All three lawyers represent the imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and the Law Society is concerned that these arrests relate to the work that these lawyers have conducted as part of their professional duties. In our letter, we call on Russia to end all acts of intimidation and harassment against the lawyers.
We co-signed a statement expressing our concern about the arrest of lawyer Claudia González in Guatemala City on 28 August 2023.
Ms González is renowned for her work against impunity and corruption and was the recipient of the prestigious Lawyers for Lawyers award in May 2023. The Law Society and our partner organisations are concerned that her arrest is part of a pattern of intimidation and harassment she has faced because of her work.
We released a joint statement on the ongoing trial of lawyer and human rights defender Hejaaz Hizbullah from Sri Lanka. The Law Society and its partner organisations are concerned about the ongoing violations of fair trial rights in the ongoing trial of Sri Lankan lawyer and human rights defender Hejaaz Hizbullah. Key witnesses have been subject to threat, coercion, intimidation and arrest.
We released a joint statement on the interception of Chinese human rights lawyer Li Heping and his family, who were prevented from leaving the country by border police at Chengdu's Tianfu International Airport on June 9th. They were subjected to travel restrictions on the grounds that their departure might endanger national security. These restrictions amount to a violation of their right to freedom of movement and raise questions about the legality of such measures.
We wrote to the authorities in China about the arrest, detention, prosecution and torture of lawyer Chang Weiping (PDF 123 KB).
Chang Weiping is a lawyer whose clients have included those facing discrimination due to their gender or sexual orientation.
We wrote to the authorities in China about the arrest, detention, prosecution and torture of lawyer Ding Jiaxi (PDF 121 KB).
Ding Jiaxi is a lawyer and human rights defender campaigning for greater governmental transparency, rule of law and the rights of migrant workers in China.
We delivered an Intervention Letter on the continuing threats and harassment of Shahanur Islam in connection with his legitimate activities as a lawyer in Bangladesh.
Read the full letter (PDF 182 KB).
Joint statement on Li Yuhan
We have signed a joint statement by The 29 Principles to call for the release of Chinese human rights lawyer Li Yuhan, who was detained by Chinese authorities in 2017.
The statement also calls on the Chinese authorities to release all lawyers and human rights defenders who have been arbitrarily detained.
Lawyers at risk in Iran
At least 23 lawyers have been arrested and detained in the last month, in detention conditions that remain inadequate and inhuman. We are also alarmed by the many human rights defenders who have been arrested.
We called on the Iranian authorities to, inter alia:
- immediately and unconditionally release all lawyers and human rights defenders
- guarantee psychological and physical integrity
- ensure access to legal representation
- ensure respect for fair trial guarantees
- guarantee that lawyers and human rights defenders can carry out their professional duties without intimidation, hindrance or improper interference
We've written a joint statement with Lawyers for Lawyers, calling on the Iranian government to halt the arbitrary arrest, detention and ill treatment of lawyers in Iran (PDF 274 KB) and allow protesters access to legal representatives.
We wrote to President Kais Saied of Tunisia about the arrest, detention and prosecution of lawyer Abderrazak Kilani (PDF 326 KB).
Mr Kilani is a lawyer and former president of the Law Society of Tunisia from 2010 until 2012, as well as a former ambassador of Tunisia to the UN in Geneva.
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