Tortured and unlawfully imprisoned: Lawyers for Lawyers demands justice for Maksim Znak
Lawyers for Lawyers joins the campaign to demand an end to the torture of Maksim Znak, a Belarusian lawyer who was arbitrarily detained in 2020. He was ultimately sentenced to 10 years in prison for carrying out his professional activities and has been deprived of all communication since February 2023.
Lawyers for Lawyers draws attention to the case of Belarusian lawyer and 2021 Lawyers for Lawyers Award-laureate Maksim Znak, who received a 10-year prison sentence from a Belarusian court for providing legal counsel to presidential candidates opposed to the regime in Belarus.
Prior to the 2020 presidential election in Belarus, Znak offered legal support to presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka. Following Babaryka’s arrest and disqualification from the election – resulting in a 14-year prison sentence – Znak then assisted presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who was compelled to go into exile after the elections on 9 August 2020.
Maksim Znak co-founded the Coordination Council of the Belarusian Opposition with the aim of achieving a peaceful resolution to the post-election crisis. He was elected a member of the Coordination Council’s Presidium.
Following his arrest on 9 September 2020, Znak was sentenced to 10 years in prison on 6 September 2021 after a closed-door trial. The charges included “demanding measures aimed at harming national security,” “abetment of seizing state power,” and “creating an extremist group.”
The UN Working Group against Arbitrary Detention found the arrest and detention to be arbitrary and Amnesty International recognized Maksim Znak as a prisoner of conscience. Various UN special rapporteurs, independent experts, and working groups have called on Belarus to immediately release all individuals detained for exercising their fundamental rights, including Maksim Znak.
Currently, Maksim Znak is being held in penal colony No. 3 in the village of Vitba, Vitebsk region, Belarus. He has reportedly repeatedly been placed in a punishment cell with the intent of causing suffering. Since February 2023, he has been entirely cut off from the outside world, with authorities denying his lawyers access and prohibiting visits, phone calls, or any correspondence, including with his family. Assessors deem Maksim Znak’s conditions in the penal colony to constitute torture and his friends, family, and colleagues believe there are compelling reasons to fear for his life and health.
Join the campaign: End the torture of Maksim
Lawyers for Lawyers unequivocally condemns the arbitrary arrest, unlawful imprisonment, and ongoing torture of Maksim Znak and stands in solidarity with the public campaign ‘Stop Torturing Maksim Znak”. This is a joint initiative of the Lithuanian Bar Association and Belarusian lawyers in exile, who have created a website for the purpose of raising attention to Maksim Znak’ situation. The website is available in English, Belarusian, Lithuanian, Russian and German.
We invite you to download the QR code on the poster below and share the message on social media with the Belarusian authorities to demand an end to the torture and imprisonment of Maksim Znak.
Meer nieuws uit Belarus
Report on Belarus: The Crisis of the Legal Profession Continued Repressions 2022 – 2023
In cooperation with the American Bar Association (ABA) and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), the Center for Constitutionalism and Human Rights, Right to Defense, and Lawyers for Lawyers have prepared this report to summarize the ongoing worryingLees verder
Belarus: Suppression of independent lawyers has intensified. Is there a Solution?
October 9, 2023 – On the sidelines of the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference, Lawyers for Lawyers, co-hosted a side event on Belarussian Lawyers. The event served to elaborate on the plight of the legal profession in Belarus, to introduce theLees verder
Statement on the deprivation of licenses from Belarusian lawyers
Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) remains deeply concerned about the plight of lawyers in Belarus. Following the presidential elections in the Republic of Belarus in 2020, the Belarusian Legal Profession has come under the control of the Belarusian Ministry of Justice.Lees verder
Statement on the conviction of Belarusian lawyer Yuliya Yurhilevich
Yuliya Yurhilevich has practiced law for 18 years and has defended human rights activists as well as victims of politically motivated prosecutions. According to information held by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) Yuliya Yurhilevich wasLees verder