Council of Europe: Outcome of the Parliamentary Assembly session on 10-13 October 2017

October 16th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

59e0b9e699e44

PACE, 10-13 October 2017, Strasbourg

Amongst others, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) concluded as follows at its session:

New threats to the rule of law in Council of Europe member States: selected examples: Resolution 2188 (2017) of the Parliamentary Assembly

“The Assembly has thoroughly examined the situation in five member States: Bulgaria, the Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania and Turkey. Although the list of problems found in those States does not include all of those to be found in Council of Europe member States, the Assembly is concerned about some recent developments which put at risk respect for the rule of law, and, in particular, the independence of the judiciary and the principle of the separation of powers. This is mainly due to tendencies to limit the independence of the judiciary made though attempts to politicise the judicial councils and the courts (mainly in Bulgaria, Poland and Turkey), massive revocation of judges and prosecutors (Turkey) or attempts to do so (Poland) and tendencies to limit the legislative power of the parliament (the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Turkey). Moreover, corruption, which is a major challenge to the rule of law, remains a widespread phenomenon in Bulgaria, the Republic of Moldova and Romania.” (To read the entire Resolution, click here.)

Venice Commission’s “Rule of Law Checklist”

The Assembly decides to:

6.1. endorse the Venice Commission’s Rule of Law Checklist;
6.2. use it systematically in its work, particularly in the preparation of reports of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee), in order to accurately identify any structural and systemic problems in the Council of Europe’s member States;
6.3. invite the national parliaments and government bodies, including the relevant ministries, when assessing the need for and the content of legislative reform, to refer systematically to the Rule of Law Checklist;
6.4. invite international and regional organisations, including the Council of Europe as a whole and the European Union, to refer regularly to the Rule of Law Checklist in their relevant work. In this connection, the Assembly congratulates the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on having taken the Rule of Law Checklist into account in his 2017 annual report on the situation of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe, and urges him to do so systematically in all his future annual reports;
6.5. encourage civil society to use the Rule of Law Checklist to objectively assess respect for the rule of law.
(To read the entire document, click here.)
Please click here for more information on the results of the PACE session.

CCBE Training Conference, 14 December 2017, Brussels

October 3rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

tc-conference

Registration for the conference has now been opened.

All information on the conference, including the conference programme, can be obtained here.

CCBE adopted statement on professional secrecy / legal professional privilege

October 2nd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

In response to infringements in several member countries which are jeopardising the confidentiality attached to the relationship between clients and their lawyers, the CCBE adopted at its Standing Committee on 15 September 2017, a statement on professional secrecy / legal professional privilege. The CCBE emphasises that – contrary to a common misconception – the relationship of professional confidentiality, is intended not to protect lawyers but to protect their clients only. Once a client consults a lawyer, they have the guarantee that what they have said to their lawyer will be protected by professional secrecy / legal professional privilege and remain confidential. It would be impossible for lawyers to provide such advice or representation if the client, for fear of betrayal of that essential precondition of confidentiality, withholds information from his lawyer. Without confidentiality, there cannot be a fair trial and without a fair trial the rule of law is at stake. Confidentiality is one of the cornerstones of individual freedom in a democratic society

Find the statement here (EN) (FR).

Council of Europe: PACE session, 10-13 October 2017, Strasbourg

September 29th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) session will discuss, inter alia:

Wednesday 11 October

The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan

The draft resolution includes (amongst others) a call to “ensure also that no pressure is exerted on lawyers defending NGO representatives, political activists, human rights defenders and journalists”; read more about the situation of lawyers in the explanatory memorandum attached to the resolution;

Venice Commission’s “Rule of Law Checklist”

The Assembly is expected to endorse the Venice Commission’s Rule of Law Checklist;

New threats to the rule of law in Council of Europe member States: selected examples

The committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights proposes specific recommendations addressed to these five countries [Bulgaria, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Turkey] and expresses particular concern regarding the situation in Turkey following the measures taken under the state of emergency and the recent amendments to the Constitution.

The explanatory memorandum specifically refers (amongst others) to lawyers/Moldova: “The Moldovan judiciary is affected by negative public perception and “perceived political interference in the judiciary and law enforcement is a systemic impediment to social and economic development”. Some judges have been prosecuted for their decisions (for example, judge Domnica Manole, who annulled the decision of the Central Election Commission rejecting the holding of a referendum on amending the Constitution requested by a political party) and the same has happened to lawyers engaged in high-profile cases (see cases of Ana Ursachi, Veaceslav Turcan and Maxim Belinschi).”

The session programme can be downloaded here. The session is streamed live on PACE’s website.

UNBA-CCBE Joint Conference, 10 November 2017, Kiev

September 25th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

kiev-pechersk-lavra-2652571__340

The Ukrainian National Bar Association (UNBA) and CCBE will hold a joint conference on 10 November 2017 in Kiev, Ukraine.

The conference will discuss ‘Advocates’ rights and obligations in investigative proceedings’, including the following issues:

a) Searches of advocate’s premises and seizures of documents and computer equipment;

b) Summoning advocates as witnesses in cases against their clients;

c) Demands for privileged documents and information;

d) Covert investigative actions against an advocate;

e) Damage to advocates’ property during investigative actions;

f) Denying advocates’ access to the location under investigative actions;

g) Criminal liability for providing legal advice.

More information on the conference will be made available in due course on this Blog.

Belarus: CCBE expresses concerns over Belarus lawyers and recertification

September 22nd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

On 12 September 2017, the President of the CCBE addressed a letter to the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko expressing the CCBE’s concerns over the situation of Belarus lawyers, including Mr Pavel Sapelko (who was rewarded with the CCBE Human Rights Awards in 2012).

The Ministry of Justice of Belarus ordered certification of several lawyers, which according to the CCBE can be an instrument of the authorities to pressure the legal community.
Read more here.

Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law

September 21st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Nils Engstad, President of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE), noted (amongst others) in his intervention at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting on 19 September 2017:

“Therefore, shortcomings in a domestic judicial system can never be a valid argument for politicization or a full governmental take-over of the judiciary.

12. Why so? Because politicization of and political pressure on judiciaries and prosecutors may cause self-censorship and have a chilling-effect on judicial independence and impartiality. Politicization of courts and prosecutors is likely to be followed by adoption of acts and implementation of actions causing widespread negative effects on media-freedom, on the freedom of expression, on the independence of lawyers, on the work of human rights activists and human rights NGOs.”

His intervention can be downloaded here.

CCBE supports the Georgian Bar Association’s proposed reforms

September 14th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The CCBE addressed a letter to the Georgian Parliament in which it expressed its full support to the reforms proposed by the Georgian Bar Association. The CCBE urged the Parliament to take forward the following proposals:

(-) To end the existing prohibition of the Bar President to practice

A CCBE survey in 2015, showed that in none of the responding countries (23), the Bar President was prohibited from practicing. Bars and Law Societies consider it crucial that their presidents are practicing lawyers as they are aware through their daily practice about the prevailing issues that the profession is facing. Prohibiting a Bar President to practice would constitute a real economic risk as the he/she might loose his/her client base during tenure. The matter is traditionally part of the self-regulatory competences of the bars and law societies.

(-) To provide for a comprehensive framework for the internship programme

According to the proposals of the Georgian Bar Association, future lawyers would have to follow three months of training at the High School of Advocates which includes courses on legal skills, management skills, as well as other professional skills which are important to the practice of the profession. The trainee lawyers would then need to carry out nine months of practical training in a law firm, supervised by a lawyer. Trainee lawyers will need to observe the standards of professional conduct of the Georgian Bar during their internship. The CCBE believes that the proposed reform will greatly contribute to further a high standard of legal training and professional competence. They take account of the CCBE Training Outcomes for European Lawyers of 2007.

The CCBE letter can be downloaded here.

Poland: Independence of the judiciary – EC takes second step in infringement procedure against Poland

September 13th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Please read for the details the press release of the European Commission of 12/09.

Save the Date: CCBE Training Conference, 14 Dec. 2017, Brussels

August 24th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

trainingconf

trainingconfii

 

The Conference will be held in English.

Further information will follow in the coming weeks.