ICJ calls for protection of lawyers against threats to life at UN Human Rights Council

by | Mar 5, 2021 | Advocacy, Non-legal submissions

The ICJ issued a statement today on the occasion of an interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on situation of human rights defenders calling for measures of protection for lawyers who defend human rights and human rights defenders.

The ICJ was not able to read the statement during the interactive dialogue due to the limited time provided for NGO statements.

The statement was as follows:

“Madame President,

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s report and agrees with her observation on the absence of political will in some States to protect Human Rights Defenders (HRDs).

As noted by the previous Special Rapporteur (A/HRC/37/51/Add.1), lawyers are HRDs when they act in their professional capacity to promote or protect human rights. Lawyers, like other defenders, are often targeted for harassment including through death threats and killings.  The ICJ has recently documented such cases in Zimbabwe, Egypt and Ukraine.

The ICJ recalls that under the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, States have special protective responsibilities, namely that “[w]here the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.”

The ICJ welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation that the international community, particularly States through Foreign Embassies and the OHCHR must react faster in addressing threats issued against HRDs. This should include situations where lawyers are threatened for doing their work.

The ICJ further welcomes the recommendation to maintain adequately resourced protection mechanisms for HRDs. In this regard, we consider strong and independent Bar Associations to be essential in helping protect the security of lawyers.

Madam Special Rapporteur, are there particular measures you would recommend for protecting lawyers when acting as HRDs?

Thank you.”



Massimo Frigo, ICJ UN Representative, e: massimo.frigo(a)icj.org, t: +41797499949

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