Concerns about the heinous attack on human rights defender Aleksandr Nemov
We are deeply concerned with the recent heinous attack on human rights lawyer Aleksandr Nemov, who was attacked alongside journalist Elena Milashina in Grozny, Chechen Republic, Russia, on July 4, 2023. This attack is a clear manifestation of the ongoing threats and violence faced by lawyers working to defend human rights in the region.
At the time of the attack, Aleksandr Nemov was on his way to attend a verdict announcement of a political prisoner before his transport was intercepted by unidentified, armed men. Aleksandr, as well as the journalist Elena Milashina, were badly wounded and taken to the Grozny City Hospital; they later had to be transferred to another medical facility.
Aleksandr Nemov is a human rights lawyer, whose work has been instrumental in exposing gross human rights violations in Chechnya and the broader North Caucasus region, focusing on defending victims of torture. His work has required undoubtable courage, and has helped to draw international attention to the plight of political prisoners, forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and extrajudicial killings in Russia.
We express our profound concern over this attack, as well as the continued pattern of systematic attacks and harassment against human rights defenders, journalists, and lawyers in the Chechen Republic working on politically sensitive cases. Such attacks create a chilling effect, silencing those who speak out against human rights abuses and demand justice. The government’s responsibility to safeguard the rights and security of those who advocate for justice and accountability is not being met.
Furthermore, we would like to draw the attention to the United Nations (UN) Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers that this event has violated, particularly Articles 16 and 17, which read:
16.Governments shall 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.
17.Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.
In view of the above, Lawyers for Lawyers respectfully urges the Russian authorities to:
– Immediately take the effective measures necessary to ensure that crimes, harassment, infringements and other violations against Mr Nemov, and other affected lawyers, are effectively investigated and publicly condemned at all levels, and that the perpetrators of these heinous acts are prosecuted.
-Guarantee that all lawyers in Russia are able to carry out their legitimate professional activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial and physical harassment.
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