Kyrgyz Republic: removal of lawyer by police official without client’s consent violates international law

The ICJ is concerned at reports that a police official has purported to terminate a lawyer’s representation of a client against the client’s wishes, in violation of the right to fair trial and international standards on the independence and role of the legal profession.

A.J. Uchkempirov, the investigator of the City Department of Internal Affairs (the city police department) of Karakol City, reportedly issued a ruling removing lawyer Nurkyz Asanova from representation of her client, Mr Ishen Abdyrashev.

The ICJ is particularly concerned given that the removal of lawyer Asanova comes while she is representing Mr Abdyrashev in a case alleging that he was subjected to torture by police officers in detention, and subsequently detained at a police officer’s home and forced to carry out unpaid work for one and a half months.

On 29 December 2014, Ishen Abdyrashev, assisted by lawyer Asanova, complained about these events and a criminal investigation was initiated.

The investigation has now been completed and a criminal trial is underway.

On 3 April 2015, Abdrashev himself was charged with robbery, which he denies.

Lawyer Asanova also represents him in the robbery case.

On 14 April, investigator Uchkempirov issued a ruling purporting to remove her, despite Mr Abdyrashev’s opposition.

The purported basis for the ruling was that Lawyer Asanova was in some way interfering with the investigation of the case.

The investigator had no authority under Kyrgyz law to issue such a decision.

Under international standards, such a decision could in any event only be taken by an appropriately independent authority following a regular and fair procedure, which was clearly not the case here.

According to the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, for instance, “[n]o court or administrative authority before whom the right to counsel is recognized shall refuse to recognize the right of a lawyer to appear before it for his or her client unless that lawyer has been disqualified in accordance with national law and practice and in conformity with these principles” (Article 19).

This is an important guarantee for the right under international law of every person to be represented by a lawyer of their own choice, as protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and recognized by the Basic Principles.

The Principles also recognize, further to the right to fair trial under the Covenant, that it is the obligation of the government to guarantee that lawyers are able to pereform their functions without “intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference” and that they are able to consult with their clients both within their own country and abroad.

The investigator’s decision should be declared void and lawyer Nurkyz Asanova’s right to represent, to communicate with and to visit her client, should be fully recognized and respected.

Furthermore, the authorities must take steps to ensure that there is no further unlawful interference with Ishen Abdyrashev’s right to the lawyer of his choice.

Kyrgysztan-Lawyer Asanova_statement-News-web story-2015-RUS (full text in PDF)

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