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

August 24th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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The Conference will be held in English.

Further information will follow in the coming weeks.

Council of Europe: Report by the Secretary General, 2017

July 4th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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The Report, which contains a Chapter on Lawyer Professionalism (pages 31-32), recalls that “In any judicial system, the role of lawyers is crucial for ensuring effective access to justice and the full enjoyment of the principle of equality of arms as guaranteed by Article 6 of the Convention.”

The Report sets out ‘institutional criteria’ (including: “Lawyers can discharge their duties without improper interference.”, “Entrants to the legal profession have appropriate education and training.”) and it contains brief findings on several issues: monopoloy on legal representation, quality standards, lawyers’ fees, organisation of the profession.

The Report specifically mentions the Council of Europe cooperation projects with the Georgian and Moldovan Bars:

“A co-operation project implemented with the Bar Association of Georgia has focused on the exercise of the profession of lawyer in line with Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (2000) 21 on the freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyer, and on the development and dissemination of a code of ethics for lawyers. The bar association also sought, and used, the Council of Europe’s input in respect of the framework for admission to the profession of lawyer and the self-administration of the profession. Similar work has been undertaken in the Republic of Moldova.”

The Report can be downloaded here.

UN Human Rights Council Resolutions on the Independence of the Judiciary and Lawyers

June 23rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

During its session from 6-23 June 2017, the UN Human Rights Council adopted Resolutions on the independence of the judiciary and lawyers, inluding the following:

1. Calls upon all States to guarantee the independence of judges and lawyers and the objectivity and impartiality of prosecutors, as well as their ability to perform their functions accordingly, including by taking effective legislative, law enforcement and other appropriate measures that will enable them to carry out their professional functions without interference, harassment, threats or intimidation of any kind;

6. Emphasizes that the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers provide that lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their function;

7. Emphasizes that lawyers should be enabled to discharge their functions freely, independently and without any fear of reprisal;

10. Expresses its deep concern about the significant number of attacks against lawyers and instances of arbitrary or unlawful interference with or restrictions to the free practice of their profession, and calls upon States to ensure that any attacks or interference of any sort against lawyers are promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated and that perpetrators are held accountable;

11. Calls upon States, in collaboration with relevant national entities such as bar associations, associations of judges and prosecutors, and educational institutions, to provide adequate training, including human rights training, for judges, prosecutors and lawyers, both on initial appointment and periodically throughout their careers, taking into account regional and international human rights law and, where applicable and relevant, the concluding observations and decisions of human rights mechanisms, such as treaty bodies and regional human rights courts;

16. Calls upon States to ensure that legal provisions that are or have been adopted in relation to counter-terrorism or national security are consistent with the international obligations of the State concerning the right to a fair trial, the right to liberty, the right to an effective remedy for violations of human rights and other provisions of international law relevant to the role of judges, prosecutors and lawyers;

The full document can be download here.

Western Balkans: Criminal Law Reform Assessment Report, 2016

June 15th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Introduction to the Assessment Report:

The Assessment Report presented in this publication was produced as a result of the Criminal Law Reform Project (CLRP), implemented from July 2015 to September 2016, by the Bar Association of Serbia in partnership with the National Chamber of Advocacy of Albania, Bar Association of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), Kosovo Bar Association and Macedonia Bar Association, as well as the civil society organization Partners for Democratic Change Serbia. (…)

It addresses the main problems defense advocates and their clients face in criminal proceedings in the Region. It further compares legal frameworks and practices in these systems and refers to international standards in that regard. The Report recommends changes to the respective provisions and practices that would enable better protection of rights of the accused and provide conditions for guaranteeing the right to a fair trial in criminal proceedings. Therefore, this report represents a useful advocacy tool for the bar chambers in the Region in their future advocacy efforts for reform of criminal proceedings. (…)

The Report can be downloaded 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.

CCBE supports BAK in procedural law reform

January 13th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The Bar Association of Kosovo (BAK) has requested support from the CCBE regarding the Law on Civil Procedure Code, namely the provisions related to representation in courts. The current provisions would allow any person in their capacity to act to represent a person in court, which both BAK and CCBE find very problematic. Moreover, the CCBE draws attention to the fact there are dissuasive conditions for lawyers to represent themselves and participate in the work of the Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils in Kosovo. The conditions are such that lawyers that become members of these councils are obliged to suspend their activity as lawyers for a period of 5 years. For more information, read the letter here.

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.

Conference on 26 and 27 October in Astana, Kazakhstan: presentations are now available

November 9th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

On 26 and 27 October 2016, a conference entitled “Stronger when united: Kazakh lawyers facing new challenges” took place in Astana, Kazakhstan. The event was organised by the European Lawyers Foundation (ELF), the International Bar Association (IBA) and the Republican collegium of Advocates of Kazakhstan. As a follow-up to the conference, the ELF published presentations of the speakers, which could be accessed here.

WJP Rule of Law Index 2016

October 27th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

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On 20 October 2016, the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2016 has officially been launched. The WJP Rule of Law Index is the world’s leading source for data on the rule of law, which measures how the rule of law is experienced in practical, everyday situations by the general public worldwide. Performance is measured across such primary rule of law factors as: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order and Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, and Criminal Justice.

According to the latest data, when compared globally, countries in the Western Europe and North America continue to top the WJP Rule of Law Index, with Denmark remaining the highest-ranked country in rule of law followed by Norway. Romania was the biggest mover in the region’s rankings, rising 4 positions to 32nd out of 113 countries worldwide over 2015 rankings. Meanwhile, France and Hungary each lost 3 positions, to 21st and 49th respectively. Georgia, ranked 34th, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Apart from Albania, Turkey, and Russia, most countries in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region remained largely unchanged since 2015. Albania dropped 9 positions to 72nd globally; Turkey fell 8 positions to 99th; and Russia moved down 6 positions to 92nd.

For the full report, please click here.

You can also access an interactive online platform for country-specific data by clicking here.

The legal profession in Belarus

October 19th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

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I. GENERAL INFORMATION

Belarus has a population of approximately 9.5 million and 1991 lawyers (in 2016).

According to the Belarusian legislation, only advocates are entitled to provide professional legal assistance. Other legal degree holders are not permitted to be defenders or representatives in criminal, civil and administrative proceedings.

II. TRAINING

Initial training of lawyers: Law degree. Traineeship of 3-6 months (for those with work experience in the legal field of at least 3 years) or 6-12 months (for those with less than 3 years of work experience) followed by the qualification exam.

The activity of an advocate in Belarus is licensed. Licenses are issued by the Ministry of Justice upon the decision of the Ministry Board on the advice of the Qualification Commission.

Continuous training: The issue of further continuous training of advocates is administered by the National Bar Association, which organises qualification upgrade courses.

III. DISCIPLINE

The Ministry of Justice has the power to regulate the legal profession. In practice, the Ministry of Justice does not interfere with the activities of advocates except for licensing issues.

The Law determines the establishment and the competence of a separate body, which considers the advocates’ disciplinary liability issues: the Disciplinary Commission. The Disciplinary Commission is created by the supreme body of advocates’ self-management and is in charge of disciplinary proceedings.

IV. LEGAL AID

Free legal aid is provided on the basis of Art. 28 of the Law “On Advocacy and Advocatory Activities” and is funded by bar associations as well as from the budgets of the republican and (or) local authorities.

V. CURRENT CONCERNS OF THE BAR

Current concerns of the Bar and main challenges in the coming years: the status of a lawyer, legal aid and independence of the legal profession

Independence: One of the most fundamental issues in the work of an advocate is the regulation of relations between the profession and the state. An advocate needs to be independent so he or she can provide effective assistance.

An advocate, who feels the pressure, cannot provide adequate legal advice. For that reason, the question of the quality of work arises. If an advocate is not independent or is afraid to speak openly, the protection will be of poor quality.

For the full text of the article on the legal profession in Belarus, please click here.