Advocates’ Harassment

Russia: Defense Lawyer Arrested, Beaten

Free Mikhail Benyash, Investigate Allegations of Police Ill-Treatment

Police in Krasnodar, in southern Russia, arrested a defense lawyer, held him incommunicado, and beat him in detention, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should immediately release the lawyer, Mikhail Benyash, and investigate allegations of his ill-treatment while in police custody. Authorities should also drop the politically motivated charges against him.

Police arrested Benyash in Krasnodar on September 9, 2018, as he was meeting with a client who was going to take part in protests against the government’s plans to raise the pension age. Protests were held that day in 39 Russian cities, including Krasnodar. 

Benyash has represented people arrested in other protests in southern Russia. Human Rights Watch has found that law enforcement has cracked downthroughout 2018 on unauthorized protests and people associated with them. Benyash’s lawyer, Alexey Avanesyan, told Human Rights Watch that Benyash arrived in Krasnodar from Sochi a day before the unauthorized protest to provide legal assistance to protesters in case they were arrested.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/10/04/russia-defense-lawyer-arrested-beaten

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Advovate has recently been notified of the decisions of March 1 and 2

Advovate has recently been notified of the decisions of March 1 and 2

Advocate Nina Karapetyants received the decision for March 1 of 2018 of the Board of the Chamber of Advocates several days ago.

The decision of Artush Gabrielyan, the judge of the Court of General Jurisdiction of the Erebuni and Nubarashen administrative districts of Yerevan, regarding the application of a judicial sanction, was registered in the Chamber on August 9 of the previous year.

During a regular court session on 03/08/17, a protocol on the security check of a certain person was handed over to the court. According to the protocol, immediately before the session began, the court bailiff requested to search the belongings of Nina Karapetyants after the metal detector was set off, which she refused. Consequently, she then refused to enter both the court building and to the court session.

Nina Karapetyants presented a written objection on the protocol, announcing that she had come to the court to fulfill her duties, when she was offered to go through the security check. According to her account, she agreed, but these actions suddenly turned into a search, which she refused to undergo, as it is against the law. The court bailiff suggested for her to leave her handbag in the safe, however as she held important criminal case materials and tools within the bag, she declined the offer.

The Court found that Nina Karapetyants had used her judicial rights unfaithfully and without a valid reason, that she failed to fulfill her judicial duties that led to the obstruction of the court session and that she showed disrespect towards the court and parties at trial.

After a discplinary case was initiated in the Chamber of Advocates, Nina Karapetyants was found guilty of violating the requirements under the Code of Conduct for Advocates, and under Article 19, Paragraph 1, Part 1 of the RA Law on Advocacy the proceedings were terminated.

Its important to note that application of Article 19, Paragraph 1, Part 1 of the RA Law on Advocacy was illegitimate and unwarranted, as this section only stipulates that “the advocate is obliged to defend the rights and legitimate interests of the client honestly and conscientiously by all means and methods not prohibited by the RA legislation”.

For her refusal to open her bag at the request of judicial bailiff prior to entering a court hearing on 20/07/2017, advocate Nina Karapenyats received a disciplinary warning as penalty, during a disciplinary hearing at the Chamber of Advocates on March 2.

The first time the metal detector was set off by the bag, Nina refused to open it. After being questioned by the bailiff as to whether her bag contained unauthorised items, she assured him that there wasn’t any and she was then allowed to enter the court. However, upon noticing that her colleagues Arayik Papikyan and Musgegh Shushanyan were being forced to open their bags, she intervened and accused the bailiff of discrimination, as she was permitted entry but not her collegues. Subsequently, Nina Karapenyats was also banned from entering the court room. Judge Artush Gabrielyan held that the advocates’ failure to enter the courtroom was disrespectful towards the court.

However, the advocates who are involved in high-profile cases are confident that the security searches being conducted have been deliberatley hindering their ability to both enter court rooms and attend the court proceedings as legal representatives. There have been many instances where people’s belongings and bags have set off the metal detectors, only to find out that it was only a pen.

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Strong reprimand to the advocate for expressing his opinion

Advocate Mushegh Shushanyan was strongly reprimanded for having expressed his opinion in the press. The Board of the Chamber of Advocates made Mushegh Shushanyan's statement at the “Hraparak.am” and the “aravot. am” websites an issue for discussion to subject him to disciplinary liability.

It should be reminded that last year on June 21, the court removed Varuzhan Avetisyan, a member of the "Sasna Tsrer", for his making a call to the people at the court trial. A break was announced, after which Mushegh Shushanyan did not return to the court room, claiming that Varuzhan Avetisyan did not allow him to participate in the case hearings without him. Artush Gabrielyan assessed that act of Mushegh Shushanyan as disrespectful attitude to the court and applied a judicial sanction, sending an application to the Chamber of Advocates to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the advocate.

The Chamber decided to subject M. Shushanyan to disciplinary sanction. In his interview with Hraparak.am, Shushanyan assessed the Board of the Chamber of Advocates as an extraordinary court and a punitive body for a part of advocates.

“It was not relating to my case alone; I would like to mention disciplinary proceedings against Tigran Yegoryan. It was simply a shame to make such a decision. As a result of those proceedings, it became clear what had happened and what were behind the disciplinary proceedings against Tigran Yegoryan, and in general, what purpose does it pursue. I would like to mention that yesterday in the afternoon I sent a note to the Board demanding them to provide me a number of documents and information in order I would be able to present my explanations and position, and in my notification I offered that seven members of the Board should have to be withdrawn.

It were those members of the Board who were involved in the case of Araik Papikyan. Though they had quashed the proceedings for his having left the courtroom, but they had done it on the ground that the motion for applying a judicial sanction was accepted with a violation of law. At the same time, they expressed their position about his having left the courtroom. In my motion, I qualified this as an illiterate legal position.

Those advocates were Nelly Harutyunyan, Hrant Ananyan, Melanya Arustamyan, Simon Babayan, Tigran Khurshudyan, Karen Mejlumyan and Arayik Ghazaryan. The Board, however, did not examine my motions and promptly made a decision on subjecting me to disciplinary sanction. I was reprimanded. All these facts give me grounds to say that the Board has become an extraordinary court and a punitive body for some of the advocates,” Taron Simonyan, the chairperson of the hearings, read advocate Mushegh Shushanyan’s words.

On the website of “aravot. Am”, the advocate qualified the position of the Chamber as an “illiterate legal position” that in any case the advocate's leaving the courtroom is unacceptable regardless of the client's position.

 Answering the question of what legal norm is allowing that, Mushegh Shushanyan replied that he did not want to open the brackets. He will speak on this issue after he has received the decision.

Both parties were not present at the hearings of the Board. After having returned from the consultation room, the Board of the Chamber of advocates decided to subject Mushegh Shushanyan to disciplinary action, that is, to a strong reprimand.

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Protecting human rights defenders in Council of Europe member States

Non-official translation

Recommendation 2133 (2018) Provisional version

Author(s): Parliamentary Assembly

Origin - Assembly debate on 26 June 2018 (22nd Sitting) (see Doc. 14567, report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, rapporteur: Mr Egidijus Vareikis). Text adopted by the Assembly on 26 June 2018 (22nd Sitting).

  1. 1. Referring to its Resolution 2225 (2018)on protecting human rights defenders in Council of Europe member States, the Parliamentary Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

1.1. continue its dialogue with human rights defenders, in particular by holding regular exchanges of views with them, in the framework of the work of its subordinate bodies;

1.2. support the work of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights in the field of protecting human rights defenders, including by ensuring that sufficient financial and human resources are available to the mandate;

1.3. establish a platform, similar to the Platform for the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists, for the protection of human rights defenders, or another mechanism for monitoring and reacting to cases of reprisals against human rights defenders in Council of Europe member States, as also called for in Recommendation 2121 (2018) on the case for drafting a European convention on the profession of lawyer;

1.4. request information from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on the implementation to date of his proposal to establish a mechanism for regularly reporting on and reacting to cases of intimidation of human rights defenders co-operating with Council of Europe bodies, and share this information with the Assembly;

1.5. streamline its work in this area through better co-ordination with the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations, the Secretary General, the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights and the Assembly;

1.6. adopt without delay the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on the need to strengthen the protection and promotion of the civil society space in Europe, as prepared by the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH);

1.7. organise a high-level seminar to mark the 10th anniversary of the Committee of Ministers Declaration on Council of Europe action to improve the protection of human rights defenders and promote their activities and the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 9 December 1998, as recommended by the CDDH;

1.8. strengthen its co-operation on the protection of human rights defenders with other international organisations, in particular the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations.

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Sri Lanka: Deplorable threats against human rights defender

The Sri Lankan authorities must urgently take action against those threatening human rights defender Sandhya Eknaligoda, Amnesty International said today.

Over recent days, Sandhya Eknaligoda, a distinguished campaigner against enforced disappearances and the wife of disappeared cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda, has been subject to a barrage of hate, abuse, intimidation, harassment and death threats on social media.

“The threats against Sandhya Eknaligoda are extremely worrying. The Sri Lankan authorities must urgently and effectively take appropriate action against those who seek to cause her harm,” said Dinushika Dissanayake, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

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