Joint oral statement during id WGAD
21 september 2020

Joint oral statement during id WGAD

On 21 September, Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) delivered an oral statement during the interactive dialogue with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD). L4L and LRWC asked the Council to urge Iran and Turkey to release all detained human rights defenders. Moreover, L4L and LRWC suggested that the Working Group requests country visits to both countries. The dialogue took place during the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The statement reads as follows:

Mme. President,

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada and Lawyers for Lawyers appreciate the Working Group’s report, including its emphasis on access to legal assistance to prevent arbitrary detention. The Working Group’s Deliberation No. 11 emphasized that prohibition of arbitrary detention is “absolute and universal” and that COVID-19 emergency powers “must not be used to silence human rights defenders.”

 Turkey and Iran released thousands of prisoners to reduce COVID-19 risks, but many rights lawyers and defenders were excluded from release.

 In Turkey, hundreds of lawyers are unlawfully imprisoned on terrorism-related charges aimed at deterring lawyers from lawfully representing dissidents. In July the Working Group communicated concern about Turkey’s overbroad terrorism laws. In September, the Working Group joined other UN experts calling for release of defenders and expressing dismay about the “preventable” death of lawyer Ebru Timtik, who died while fasting to demand fair trials. Yet last Friday, Turkey arrested 60 more lawyers, the majority women, for representing persons accused of involvement in “terrorism.”

In Iran, arbitrarily detained defenders include women’s rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and rights lawyer Amirsalar Davoodi. Ms. Sotoudeh faces deteriorating health; she has been fasting since August to seek release of political prisoners.

We ask the Council to urge Turkey and Iran to release all arbitrarily detained defenders. We suggest that the Working Group request country visits to both countries.

 Thank you.

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