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

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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.