The ICJ has expressed serious concern at credible allegations of a physical attack on lawyer Dinara Turdumatova on 1 May and possible disciplinary action to cancel her license to practice law.
The organization said that the attack must be the subject of a prompt, fair, independent and impartial investigation and the lawyer must not be threatened with arbitrary punitive measures.
Dinara Turdumatova had been representing three persons under interrogation on suspicion of unlawful keeping of a weapon and was recording the interrogation with her telephone.
One of the suspects refused to put his signature on the record of the interrogation, saying he disagreed with the text.
Dinara Turdumatova requested to be given an opportunity to clarify her client’s testimony in writing, but the request was refused by the investigator.
The investigator Osh City Police Department reportedly demanded that Dinara Turdumatova delete the recording on her telephone.
After the lawyer refused to do so, the investigator took the phone by force and put it in his safe.
He tried to push the lawyer out of the room and then hit her three times on her head. Dinara Turdumatova went to the hospital where concussion of the brain was diagnosed.
The Osh Police have refuted these allegations, and accused Dinara Turdumatova of ethical violations .
In particular, they alleged, in a media interview, that she had “threatened” to file a compliant to the Prosecutor’s Office about the actions of the police, demanded that her client refuse to give a statement to police, and advised him not to sign the record of the interrogation.
The police said that a disciplinary complaint would be submitted to the Ministry of Justice requesting cancelation of her license to practice law due to “gross violation of the law.”
“All of the actions attributed to the lawyer as misconduct subject to disciplinary sanction are in fact essential duties of the lawyer taken to protect the human rights of her client, including the right to keep silent during interrogation,” said Róisín Pillay, Director of ICJ’s Europe Programme. “It is indeed the responsibility of the lawyer to advise a client not to sign statements determined to be inaccurate and that would jeopardize the fairness of the proceedings.”
“The alleged attack on this lawyer must be investigated, by an independent body, which has no institutional interest in the outcome of the case and, anyone responsible must be brought to justice,” she added. “The investigation must be conducted thoroughly and promptly and in a way that does not raise doubt as to its credibility.”
The ICJ recalls that the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers affirm that government must ensure that lawyers “(a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; […] and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.” In addition, it is the duty of every lawyer to “assist clients in every appropriate way, and taking legal action to protect their interests.”
The ICJ stresses the obligation to protect lawyers from unfair or arbitrary disciplinary proceedings and sanctions.
Any disciplinary action against lawyers must be based solely on a code of professional conduct established by law and which is consistent with recognized ethical and professional standards.
Róisín Pillay, Director, ICJ Europe Programme, roisin.pillay(a)icj.org
Temur Shakirov, Legal Adviser, ICJ Europe Programme, temur.shakirov(a)icj.org
The report The Independence of the Legal Profession in Central Asia assesses the challenges to the independence of lawyers in Central Asia, and the barriers lawyers in the region face in providing effective legal assistance to their clients. The report analyses the laws and practices concerning the legal profession in each of the five Central Asian states, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Kyrgyzstan-Lawyer Turkumamatova assault-news-web stories-2014-rus (full text in pdf)
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