The CEPEJ published a report on European judicial systems

October 7th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink


The CEPEJ-STAT, the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) of the Council of Europe, published a report, which contains findings about the main trends observed in 45 European countries in the field of the functioning of judicial systems. In addition to the report, the CEPEJ-STAT opened access to a new interactive database, which enables viewing information by the country.

The report provides a detailed overview of the performance of the judicial systems, their budgets, the situation of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers, as well as the organisation of courts in the 45 participating member States and in one CEPEJ observer State (Israel).

As far as lawyers are concerned, the report contains data on the number of lawyers in each state or entity, with the specification whether this figure includes or not legal advisors who cannot represent their clients in court. Furthermore, the paper draws attention to the issue of lawyers’ monopoly on legal representation. For a more detailed information, please see the Chapter 3.4 (pages 158-163) of the report.

The report also gives information on the Annual public budget allocated to legal aid (pages 66-79).

The new interactive database is of particular interest as it has a specific section devoted to country-specific data, including a chapter on lawyers.

Council of Europe Commissioner reports on the current situation with human rights in Europe

October 4th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

On 14 September 2016, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks presented his 2nd quarterly activity report 2016 to the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly.

Among other activities he mentioned his visit to Turkey. The latter focused on the fight against terrorism and support of human rights, with a special attention to such issues as the freedom of expression and the administration of justice. The Commissioner voiced his concerns about a possible weakening of the independence of the judiciary in the name of the fight against terrorism. Nils Muižnieks also “stressed the crucial role that human rights defenders and lawyers must play in such a difficult context, whilst deploring the stigmatising rhetoric and judicial pressure against them”.

The Rule of Law Checklist adopted by the Venice Commission

September 22nd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

At its 106th Plenary Session (Venice, 11-12 March 2016), the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe adopted the ‘Rule of Law Checklist’. The document discusses the interactions between the Rule of Law and democracy and human rights. It also develops the various aspects of the Rule of Law, such as: legality, legal certainty, prevention of abuses of powers, equality before the law and non-discrimination, and access to justice. Finally, it provides two examples of particular challenges to the Rule of Law (corruption and conflict of interest, and collection of data and surveillance).

The checklist is meant to be used as an assessment tool for a variety of actors. For instance, Parliaments and other State authorities when addressing the need and content of legislative reform, civil society and international organisations, including regional ones – notably the Council of Europe and the European Union.

In the chapter on access to justice, the document addresses the issue of independence and impartiality. In this context, particular attention is paid to the independence and impartiality of the Bar, as it plays a fundamental role in assisting the judicial system. It stresses that the main features of the Bar’s independence should be enshrined in the legislation, and that access to the Bar should be sufficiently open. In addition, there should be effective and fair criminal and disciplinary proceedings in place.

To access the checklist, please click here.

Kazakh lawyers voice concerns about violation of their professional rights

September 13th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

On 8 July 2016, the Third Republican Conference of the Bar Councils’ Delegates took place in Astana, Kazakhstan. In their resolution, the participants of the event noted that there is a growing number of cases of violation of lawyers’ rights by the Kazakh national authorities, which are undermining the independence of the Bar.

They also pointed out the attempts of violation of freedom of expression on matters of legality, law reform, and observance of human rights, including freedom of expression in social networks and the media.

In their common statement, the delegates addressed the national authorities, listing the measures which could strengthen the rule of law and guarantee everyone protection of their rights and freedoms, including the right to a fair trial. In particular, the delegates of the conference called on the Kazakh state authorities to observe the guarantees of lawyers’ professional activities set forth by international law and Kazakh national legislation.

Conference in Kazakhstan’s capital – Astana

September 12th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink


In partnership with the International Bar Association (IBA) and the Republican Collegium of Advocates of Kazakhstan, the European Lawyers Foundation (ELF) will organise a conference entitled “Stronger when united: Kazakh lawyers facing new challenges”. The event will take place on 26 and 27 October 2016 in Astana, Kazakhstan. The topics covered by the conference will focus on the importance of lawyer regulation in international legal services, international trade in legal services, an economic view of representation in courts, including representation by regulated lawyers, and continuous legal education.

Human rights defenders’ work is vital for redress to victims of enforced disappearance

September 2nd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink


In his post of 29 August 2016, Commissioner of the Council of Europe for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks pointed out to the importance of human rights defenders work for redress to victims of enforced disappearance. According to the Commissioner, the absence of effective investigations into violations committed by state and non-state actors against human rights defenders, targeted because of their human rights work, remains a major problem in a number of European states. The situation of human rights defenders is negatively affected by various factors such as judicial harassment, threats and intimidation, abusive control and surveillance, confiscation and destruction of working materials, unlawful arrest or detention, ill-treatment, disappearance, and death. Among the issues mentioned in ‘The way forward’, the Commissioner notes that “law enforcement officials, judges and lawyers should be trained on the importance of combating impunity, as well as standards, legal obligations and good practices related to cases of enforced disappearances” and “that human rights defenders should continue interacting and exchanging experiences and help each other to work on cases of missing persons and enforced disappearances”.

Non-implementation of the ECHR’s judgments

September 1st, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink


In his post of 23 August, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Nils Muižnieks stated that there is a growing number of judgements of the European Court of Human Rights which are pending implementation by the member states of the Council of Europe. This is inconsistent with the rule of law which requires all judgements to be implemented promptly, fully and effectively. Moreover, the Commissioner emphasised that prolonged non-implementation of the Court’s decisions is a “challenge to the Court’s authority and thus to the Convention system” as a whole. As possible solutions to the problem, Mr. Muižnieks proposed: improving domestic implementation of the Convention thus reinforcing subsidiarity, improving the efficiency of the procedures before the Court, and improving the Committee of Ministers supervision of the implementation process.

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) mission to assess independence of lawyers in Azerbaijan

July 4th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

On 20-23 June, the ICJ conducted a research mission to Azerbaijan to assess the situation of the legal profession in the country. For more information, please follow this link.

“Kazakhstan: landmark court ruling in favour of lawyers’ rights”

April 22nd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

“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.

June 2015 – PECO committee meeting in Pristina, Kosovo

September 18th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Michel Benichou & Ibrahim Dobruna

Michel Benichou, First Vice-President of the CCBE & Ibrahim Dobruna, President of the Kosovo Bar

Upon invitation of the Kosovo Bar Association, the CCBE held a PECO committee meeting on 10 June 2015 in Pristina, Kosovo. The meeting took place on the occasion of the Kosovo Bar Annual Lawyers Day and its 42nd anniversary (see programme). The CCBE – which has had regular contacts with the Bar since 2013 and invites the Bar to its meetings – was granted the Justinian award as a sign of gratitude and respect for its contribution to the Kosovo Bar Association. Michel Benichou, First Vice-President of the CCBE, received the award on behalf of the CCBE. The chair of the CCBE PECO committee, Ranko Pelicaric, also participated that same day in a roundtable discussion which considered the law on public notaries and representation by lawyers in court proceedings.