On 5 April 2016, the Parliament of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia adopted a new Law on Notarial Practice. The new Law on Notarial Practice abolishes the notarial act as a mandatory act. According to the new law, legal documents shall be drafted as private documents by lawyers and then validated by public notaries. In addition, the new legal solution provides for the presence of attorneys and mandatory lawyer stamps in all proceedings that are of essential importance to the citizens. Adoption of the new law means that, from now on, lawyers will be active participants in more legal situations. The text of the full law can be downloaded here in Macedonian.
“On 18 April 2016, the Appeals Collegium of the Almaty City Court in Kazakhstan ruled in favour of Ayman Umarova, a lawyer who received repetitive demands from the investigative authorities to testify as a witness in a case in which she represented a client.
The Court decided that those demands were contrary to the law of the Republic of Kazakhstan.”
For further information please see the International Commission of Jurists press release.
CCBE highlights concerns about recent killings of lawyers and violations of lawyers’ rights in Ukraine
On 5 April 2016, the CCBE sent a letter to the President of Ukraine to express its deepest concern over murders of four lawyers in Ukraine: Yuri Grabovski, Viktor Loiko, Oleksandr Gruzkov, and Yuriy Ignatenko. The CCBE respectfully urged the President to take effective steps to ensure that these murders are thoroughly and independently investigated and to guarantee in all circumstances that all lawyers in Ukraine are able to perform their professional duties without fear of reprisal, hindrance, intimidation, or harassment.
In a follow-up to this, on 6 April 2016, the CCBE sent a letter to the Ukrainian authorities (President, Prime Minister and Acting Prosecutor General of Ukraine) supporting the Ukrainian National Bar Association (UNBA) request to stop violations of lawyers’ rights in Ukraine. The CCBE has received information from the UNBA about numerous cases of violations of lawyers’ rights in connection with the searches and seizures of lawyer’s offices, and of summoning lawyers to witness against their clients. The CCBE strongly condemned these violations and recommended that the Ukrainian authorities take all necessary steps in order to guarantee that all relevant provisions of both international and national law are respected. The CCBE emphasized that lawyers play a vital role in the administration of justice and in maintaining and defending the rule of law and therefore, their rights should not be disregarded.
The Polish and Georgian Bars organise regular consultations and exchanges of views on matters discussed by the CCBE Standing Committee and Plenary Sessions, and also take part in various events organised by each Bar. After participation of the Delegation of the Polish Bar of Legal Advisers in the 10th Anniversary of the independent legal profession in Georgia, another meeting took place within the framework of the Twinning Agreement signed in Gdańsk last year. On 11 March 2016, two Georgian human rights defenders, Mr Fridon Sikhuashvili and Ms Klara Shukvani, were awarded during the 8th Gala of the Crystal Heart, organised once a year by the Polish Bar of Legal Advisers to honour lawyers with outstanding achievements and activities in the field of pro bono work. Georgian laureates are particularly active in representing lawyers whose rights have been violated, including Mzia Tomashvili the lawyer whose case has been mentioned in the letter of concern sent by the CCBE last year.
For further information please see the letter written by the CCBE on the situation of lawyers in Georgia.