International

Revocation of five Belarusian lawyers' licences to practise

Who we wrote to

Oleg Slizhevskij, the Belarusian minister of justice.

We wrote the letter jointly with Lawyers for Lawyers, a Dutch foundation that seeks to promote the proper functioning of the rule of law by pursuing freedom and independence of the legal profession.

What's the issue

We're deeply concerned about the revocation of the licences to practise law of five Belarus lawyers who have been providing legal services to, among others, detained protestors and political opponents of the Belarus government.

In February 2021, the Qualification Commission for legal practice in the Republic of Belarus and the Minsk Bar Association revoked the licences of:

  • Maksim Konon
  • Liudmila Kazak
  • Kanstantsin Mikhel
  • Mikhail Kirilyuk
  • Vladimir Sazanchuk

We've previously raised concerns about the threats to the independence of the legal profession and access to justice in the aftermath of the recent elections in Belarus.

We believe that the revocation of the licences of these five lawyers is related to their professional activities and constitutes improper interference with such activities.

What we asked for

We've asked the relevant authorities in Belarus to:
  • review and annul the decisions revoking the licences of these lawyers and reinstate them with immediate effect
  • abstain from any further measures that would constitute improper interference with their professional activities
  • guarantee that all lawyers in Belarus, including the ones named above, are able to practise law without threat, intimidation, hindrance, harassment, improper interference or reprisals

We'll continue to monitor the situation in Belarus, as well as the situation of other members of the legal profession there.

What we've previously said

We've been monitoring the situation in Belarus and have published previous letters:

24 September 2020 – we wrote about the arrest and detention of lawyers Maksim Znak and Illia Salei in Belarus

20 August 2020 – we wrote about the 6,000 citizens of Belarus who have been arrested and detained for taking part in largely peaceful protests, of which many did not have access to a legal representative of their own choosing, or to any legal representative

3 November 2020 – we wrote about the revocation of the licences to practice of the Belarussian lawyers Aliaksandr Pylchanka and Yulia Levanchuk

5 February 2021 – we wrote about the arrest and detention of the Belarusian lawyer Leanid Sudalenka

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