Online event on the rights of attorneys: the Belarusian scenario
6 November 2020

Online event on the rights of attorneys: the Belarusian scenario

Belarus

On 14 November 2020, the online media project Voice of Attorney in partnership with the Committee for the Defense of Lawyers, Lawyers for Lawyers, Viasna and the Moscow Helsinki Group, is organizing an international online discussion dedicated to the events taking place in the Belarusian legal profession.

The event will take place from 10:55-15:50 (CET). For the event webpage and registration form please visit:  golosadvokata.ru/events/beldisc/eng.

On 9 August 2020, the presidential elections in Belarus took place. In the aftermath of these elections, thousands of citizens of Belarus have been arrested and detained for taking part in largely peaceful protests against the election results or by voicing criticism of the Government of Belarus. It has been reported that there has been an excessive use of force by state authorities against protesters and that many of those arrested are facing ill-treatment and poor conditions in detention.

It was reported that many of those arrested and detained have not had access to a legal representative, nor a legal representative of their own choosing. Where they have been able to meet with a lawyer, it has been alleged that the principle of lawyer-client confidentiality has not been respected. In addition, lawyers have not been granted access to pertinent information to adequately represent and defend the rights of their clients. Therefore, access to justice for citizens in Belarus has been severely curtailed.

Belarusian lawyers are prevented from carrying out their professional duties by law enforcement officers and other state agents and have been harassed, which directly threatens the independence of the legal profession in Belarus. Administrative and criminal cases are initiated against lawyers in connection to their professional activities. Some lawyers have been the subject of disciplinary proceedings. The Belarusian Bar community characterizes the current situation as a “legal default”.

Objectives of the event

  • To provide the widest possible range of interested international audience with complete and first-hand information about the state of affairs in the legal profession in Belarus;
  • To give an opportunity for voicing the reaction of foreign attorneys to the current situation and expressing support;
  • To search for ways to solve the problems faced by Belarusian attorneys, taking into account international experience;
  • To discuss a request for a public expert assessment of the current situation to competent international organizations;
  • To promote the formation of international lawyers’ communities for mutual support and counteraction to violations of professional rights;
  • To highlight the reasons for the current vulnerable position of the legal profession in Belarus, ways to prevent a recurrence of the situation in countries on post-Soviet space.

Format and speakers of the event:

Three separate sessions will take place (sessions can also be followed individually).

During the first session, Belarusian attorneys Dmitry Laevsky and Alexander Pylchenko will present brief reports on the recent developments in the Belarus legal profession. A representative of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” (http://spring96.org/ru) Valentin Stefanovich will present a human rights perspective on the problem of the independence of the legal profession in the Republic of Belarus.

In the second and third session, two panel discussions will take place. Speaker include: lawyers Karinna Moskalenko and Alexander Meleshko (Russia), lawyer Amanzhol Mukhamedyarov (Kazakhstan), lawyer Natalia Matskevich (Belarus), Maître Carbon de Seze (France), Prof Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou (United Kingdom). Each panel discussion will be followed by an interactive block, during which the moderator will voice questions and replies from the audience of the online event.

Technical details:

Date and time: November 14 (Saturday) 10:55-15:50 (CET)

For registration, please visit: golosadvokata.ru/events/beldisc/eng

The detailed programme will be shared once the formal confirmations are received. The event will be held at Zoom. The link and the technical details will be shared with the confirmed participants. Simultaneous translation will be available between Russian, French and English.

The event will be also streamed online in the official YouTube channel of the “Voice of Attorney” project. The link will be sent to all registered participants.

 

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