Report finds jurists at risk around the world

At least 447 jurists from 46 countries were targets of persecution in the last year as they carried out their work, the ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers reported today.

Of these, 35 jurists were murdered, 2 disappeared, 17 were attacked, 103 were detained and 67 were threatened with violence.

In its annual report, “Attacks on Justice”, the CIJL found that in some countries the government victimized jurists collectively. It also found that the assailants of jurists were rarely brought to justice.

The report was presented today to the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, with a special dedication to the judges and lawyers who lost their lives in Colombia and Italy.

Among the cases listed in “Attacks on Justice”:

  • Bombs apparently planted by the Mafia killed Judge Giovanni Falcone on 23 May 1992 and Judge Paolo Borsellino on 19 July 1992. Both judges had been appointed to head an anti-Mafia task force in Sicily.
  • At least 18 jurists were killed and 21 received death threats in Colombia. In one incident, Judge Luis Miguel Garavito, Prosecutor Hector Ojeda and seven others were killed in a guerrilla attack on 26 November 1991 while investigating the murder of a community leader.
  • Mikel Marku, an Albanian lawyer in the former Yugoslavia, died on 11 November 1991 after he was beaten and tortured at a police station.
  • President Alberto Fujimori of Peru suspended the constitution on 5 April 1992 and by mid-May had dismissed 30 prosecutors and 137 judges and magistrates.
  • Lawyers Zübeyir Aydar, Orhan Dogan, Cabbar Laygara, Sedat Yurttas and Abdülkerim Zilan have received death threats for aiding Turkey’s Kurdish minority.
  • In Yemen more than 2000 judges began a strike on 15 July 1992, demanding a law to guarantee the independence of the court system.
  • In Northern Ireland 11 lawyers said that police officers had made death threats against them while interrogating their clients.

The Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers was founded in 1978 by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

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