Council of Europe – Moldova Action Plan 2017-2020

May 31st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

(c) Council of Europe

The Council of Europe (CoE) launched its Action Plan for the Republic of Moldova 2017-2020 during an official visit of the CoE Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland in the country.

The Action Plan outlines a programme that aims ‘to bring Moldovan legislation, institutions and practice further in to line with European Standards and the areas of human rights, the rule of law and democracy.’ The action plan provides for continuous cooperation between the Council of Europe  and Moldovan authorities to ensure the effective implementation of the existing legislative frameworks and to enhance the capacities of national institutions.

The proposed Justice actions will address, amongst others, capacity building activities in close cooperation with the National Institute of Justice and the Moldovan Bar Association. The capacity building activities target judges, prosecutors and lawyers. The objective is to enhance their knowledge and skills concerning the national implementation of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Find more information about the visit here.

(c) Council of Europe

(c) Council of Europe

ECHR Factsheet on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Counsel

May 23rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Jointly with the Grand Chamber judgement on the case Simeonovi v. Bulgaria, the European Court of Human Rights Press Unit published on 12 May 2017 a factsheet with an overview of cases related to police arrest and assistance of a lawyer, based on judgements on art. 6 § 3 (c) – right to legal assistance and art. 6 § 1 – right to a fair trial. You can find the factsheet here.

ICJ Principles on the Role of Judges and Lawyers in relation to Refugees and Migrants

May 10th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has developed and published a document that aims to better secure human rights and the rule of law in the context of large movements of refugees and migrants. The Principles on the Role of Judges and Lawyers in relation to Refugees and Migrants has been prepared in consultation with senior judges, lawyers and legal scholars and it is intended to help judges and lawyers, as well as legislators and other government officials. Read more about the document here. 

Protection of Threatened Lawyers

May 2nd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

On 30 March, the CCBE and ProtectDefenders.eu organised a joint workshop entitled “How to improve the protection of threatened lawyers worldwide? Practical tools from the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism”. At the workshop, the new online platform “Index of attacks and threats against Human Rights Defenders” created by the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism, was launched.

ProtectDefenders.eu is the European Union Human Rights Defenders mechanism, established to protect defenders at high risk and facing the most difficult situations worldwide. It is led by a Consortium of 12 NGOs active in the field of Human Rights.

Independence of the judiciary in Poland

April 6th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights has addressed an open letter to the Polish Parliament’s lower chamber. The letter calls the Sejm representatives to reject the proposed amendments to the Act on the National Council for the Judiciary, due to concerns over the independence of the judiciary. Read the announcement here.

Moldova- Association Agreement Report 2017

March 15th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

EEAS has published on the 13 March the 2017 report on the implementation of the Association Agreement between the EU and Moldova. The report is based on the Association Agenda and the steps taken to implement reforms as per the agreed areas of cooperation. The first area “Political dialogue, good governance and strengthening institutions” concerns, inter alia, the subject of human rights and fundamental freedoms, which the report concludes requires tackling weaknesses in the justice sector. It is also pointed out: “Perceived political interference in the judiciary and law enforcement is a systemic impediment to social and economic development. There have also been instances of judges being prosecuted for their decisions. The same goes for lawyers engaged in high-profile cases. The EU and other international partners have questioned the wide-spread use of pre-trial detention, especially in cases linked to participation in demonstrations.” Read the full document here.

The CCBE has received several reports from the Moldovan Bar Association of cases in which professional rights of lawyer were breached. A letter addressed to public authorities in Moldova regarding these cases was sent beginning January 2017.

European Court of Human Rights 2016 Report

January 27th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The President of the ECHR, Guido Raimondi, presented yesterday the activity report of the Court for 2016. The incoming cases considerably increased in the last year which is largely the result of the situation in three countries: Hungary and Romania, for complaints about detention conditions, and Turkey, especially since the dramatic attempted coup d’état in July 2016.

The following cases which relate to the legal profession and lawyers’ rights are mentioned in the report:

Cazan v. Romania‘  – concerning a lawyer that suffered ill treatment while representing his client at a police station. The decision is of interest in that it applies to Article 3 of the Convention the general principles of case-law relating to the protection of a lawyer. The Court emphasised the right of lawyers to exercise their professional duties without being subjected to ill-treatment. It also ruled that the burden of proof regarding the treatment of a lawyer representing a client at a police station lay with the State.

Yaroslav Belousov v. Russiaconcerning the applicant’s confinement in a glass cabin during his trial. The Court noted that this arrangement also made it impossible for the applicant to have confidential exchanges with his legal counsel, to whom he could only speak through a microphone and in close proximity to the police guards.

The Ibrahim and Others v. the United Kingdom – concerning delays in access to a lawyer during police questioning. The decision clarifies the two stages of the Salduz v. Turkey test: the Court must assess, in the first place, whether there were “compelling reasons” to restrict the right of access to a lawyer and, secondly, the impact of that restriction on the overall fairness of the proceedings. Restrictions on access to legal advice “[were] permitted only in exceptional circumstances, must be of a temporary nature and must be based on an individual assessment of the particular circumstances of the case”. The Court provided a non-exhaustive list of factors, drawn from the Court’s case-law, to be taken into account as appropriate when assessing the impact of the restriction on access to a lawyer on the fairness of the proceedings so as to guide operational decision-making.

For more information, see:

Annual report 2016 (provisional)

Press conference

Violation by article and state

Analysis of  statistics

EU: Enlargement and neighbourhood policy are at the core of the Maltese Presidency

January 27th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The enlargement process negotiations and neighbourhood policy will be at the core of the Maltese Presidency, Foreign Minister George Vella told the Foreign Affairs Committee [of the European Parliament] on 24 January. Several MEPs raised concerns about the situation in Turkey, and some asked that accession negotiations with it be frozen. “Turkey is not only a candidate country but also a key partner of the EU”, Mr Vella underlined. “It is of crucial importance to maintain an open dialogue, not to burn bridges”, he added. (See press release of the European Parliament.)

European Commission: Reform Needs in Professional Services

January 26th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

On 10 January 2017, the European Commission (EC) published a “Services Package” which aims at improving the services market across the EU (see press release). The Package contains a ‘Guidance on reform needs for Member States for regulation in professional services’ (see Communication and staff working document). It identifies opportunities for improving the regulatory environment. A restrictiveness indicator has been developed to analyse requirements of some regulated professions, including lawyers. The restrictiveness indicator is based on the following criteria:

  • Regulatory approach
  • Qualifications requirements
  • Other entry requirements
  • Exercise requirements

Chart on the restrictiveness as to the access and exercise of the profession of lawyer in all Member States:

Non-regulatory barriers are not reflected in the restrictiveness indicator.

Some of the recommendations concern all Member States, while others are also addressed to Member States not regulating a profession but where a risk of creation of new barriers was identified.

There are two recommendations that apply for all Member States:

  • All Member States reserving legal advice should clarify the scope of the reserves so as to facilitate the provision of legal consultancy services by lawyers or other service providers, in particular for online services.
  • All Member States should assess legal form and shareholding requirements, incompatibility rules and multidisciplinary restrictions, in particular taking into account the proportionality of these restrictions in relation to core principles, such as the independence of the profession, and to the corresponding supervisory arrangements. In addition, consideration should be given to the cumulative effect of such requirements in cases where their effects might be accentuated in the case of extensive reserves of activities (e.g. where legal advice is also part of the reserved activities).

The recommendations per profession identify needs for reform, some of which might have serious and even legal implications in cases where an infringement of EU law might be established.

The aim of the proposal for a proportionality test is ‘to ensure regulation is fit for purpose and does not create unjustified burdens’. It provides for a test to be used by Member States before adopting or amending national regulations of professions. Members States would have to thoroughly consider the need for regulation so as to fully appreciate the effects upon stakeholders and the broader business environment.

The Services package also contains a proposal for a services e-card and a proposal for a services notification procedure.

Human Rights Day

December 12th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, has issued a declaration on the occasion of Human Rights Day, which is celebrated by the international community on the 10th of December each year. The EU’s foreign secretary has voiced support for the United Nations’ call upon people to stand up for someone’s rights and has reaffirmed the EU’s commitment in promoting human rights globally, namely the rights of migrants and refugees.

The Human Rights Day commemorates the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations General Assembly on the 10th of December 1948. It is celebrated yearly with a different theme and by various initiatives around the world involving civil society groups, NGOs and government institutions. The CCBE is granting every year a human rights award to lawyers who are particularly active in the defence of human rights and the rule of law. More on CCBE’s 2016 Human Rights Award, read here.