The International Bar Association
issued the following news release:
The International Bar Association's
Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) 2013 Annual Report, published today, presents some of the numerous challenges and dangers facing many lawyers and judges across the globe who are striving to promote and protect the fundamental principles of human rights. Details of trial observations undertaken by the IBAHRI in Turkey, Venezuela and Zimbabwe (on pages 26, 27, and 28 of the Annual Report, respectively) provide specific analysis of some of the difficulties.
IBAHRI Co-Chair Helena Kennedy said, '2013 marked the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and we have seen significant development in human rights norms over the last six and a half decades. However, the IBAHRI 2013 Annual Report acts as a reminder of the vast amount of work to still be done. Our capacity building work in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Malawi, Mexico and Tunisia demonstrates the vital role that international organisations play in facilitating the sharing of knowledge and expertise relating to the application of human rights in the administration of justice.' She added, 'Lawyers and judges play an ever increasing role in facilitating access to justice, ensuring accountability of the state and upholding a just rule of law, but achieving universality in implementation of these principles requires continued steadfastness.'
The 56-page publication presents select details of the IBAHRI's capacity building programmes, fact-finding missions, trial observations, advocacy initiatives and major training programmes across all continents, while the IBAHRI website provides insight into the Institute's global activities of working to promote and protect human rights and the independence of the legal profession worldwide.
Regional highlights of the IBAHRI's activities in 2013 include:
* Africa - The IBAHRI supported 20 lawyers across five Darfur regions to design innovative projects combating gender-based violence among women and girls living in internally displaced camps and prisons. Working closely with the Darfur Bar Association and the Human Rights and Social Justice Research Institute, the IBAHRI project trains lawyers to implement their own peer-training community projects (page 23).
* Americas - The IBAHRI was the only international organisation to maintain a presence at the criminal trial of Jose Amalio Graterol, defence lawyer for Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni whose case has become emblematic of the persecution of judges in Venezuela. The IBAHRI's trial observation report (November 2013) concluded that Mr Graterol's prosecution was arbitrary and lacking basic due process safeguards. The report condemned the retroactive criminal penalty imposed and trial observers noted multiple national and international due process violations. An IBAHRI report on the criminal trial of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni is scheduled for release in April 2014 (page 27).
* Asia Pacific - The IBAHRI's Sri Lanka fact-finding report A Crisis of Legitimacy found the removal from office of Sri Lanka's 42nd Chief Justice Bandaranayake to be unlawful and threatened to eviscerate the country's judiciary as an independent guarantor of constitutional rights. The mission was conducted remotely, following the blocking of entry for the high-level IBAHRI delegation, including the former chief justice of India, to enter the country. As Sri Lanka prepared to host the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, the IBAHRI continued to provide expert opinion and analysis on the infringements to the independence of the judiciary and legal profession in Sri Lanka (page 22).
* Europe and Central Asia - The IBAHRI published an Expert Opinion on a new draft law which aims to reorganise the Tajik legal profession. Based on extensive in-country consultation and research, the document identified certain provisions which posed threats to the independent functioning of the legal profession. The IBAHRI delivered key recommendations for reform of the draft law and will work closely with the newly established unified national bar association to implement a capacity-building programme in 2014 (page 24).
* Middle East and North Africa - Following a 2011 fact-finding mission to Cairo, the IBAHRI returned in June 2013 to investigate judicial and prosecution systems in Egypt. The 2013 mission coincided with the dramatic turn of events that unfolded following the 30 June protests. The mission report, Separating Law and Politics, was published in early 2014, and urged the future government to take action to promote the independence of the judiciary and prosecution services in order to strengthen the rule of law in Egypt and made specific recommendations for reform (page 16).
* Multi-regional - In 2013 the IBAHRI launched its expert Task Force report Tax Abuses, Poverty and Human Rights, examining tax abuses from the novel perspective of human rights law and policy. Based on extensive consultation and drawing on case studies from Brazil, Jersey and the SADC region, the report concludes that actions of states that encourage or facilitate tax abuses, or that deliberately frustrate the efforts of other states to counter tax abuses, could constitute a violation of their international human rights obligations (page 29).
IBAHRI Co-Chair Sternford Moyo said, 'Our achievements in 2013 were made psossible by the hard work and support of our members, partners, funding bodies, staff and all the lawyers and judges who gave their time and expertise. Without their dedication to the protection of the rule of law, the breadth and depth of our work would be much reduced. We are extremely grateful to all who join the IBAHRI in its contribution towards creating a more just world.' He added, 'With continued support, so far this year, we have launched an important programme supporting Myanmar's legal profession; issued an investigative report on the independence of judges and prosecutors in Egypt; and facilitated the first training session in a series for judges in Tunisia on human rights in the administration of justice. There is every indication that 2014 will be another busy year.'
) to download the IBAHRI 2013 Annual Report(http://www.intbarmedia.org/ibahri/IBAHRI-Annual-Report-2013.pdf
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