This report presents a set of recommendations to address the issue of independence of the legal profession and the threats faced by lawyers in the execution of their work in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia.
These recommendations were drafted by a group of 50 lawyers from 16 different countries, during a two-day consultation with Mónica Pinto, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, held at the Human Rights House Belgrade on 11 and 12 June 2016.
The discussions took into consideration the facts and recommendations of Human Rights House Network’s report entitled: Human Rights Lawyers at Risk. Making the Case for Protection of Legal Professionals in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine .
The report introduced a new concept of “Human Rights lawyer,” which refers to “both members of professional associations of lawyers and those working in other organisations or institutions, or individually, if their legal practice is focused on promoting and protecting human rights and freedoms.
These lawyers shared information, focusing on violations of safeguards of the security of lawyers and the independence of lawyers and professional associations of lawyers in the region. They then identified the main risks they face in performing their work.
The recommendations aim to improve the national and international implementation of the guarantees and immunities that already exist for lawyers under international law (special guarantees). They include proposals to improve the effectiveness and safety of human rights lawyers through the dissemination and widespread use of general guarantees for human rights work.
These recommendations will assist the UN Special Rapporteur in her upcoming reporting to the United Nations General Assembly, scheduled for October 2016, which will focus on the independence of the legal profession. The report will provide UN Member States with a set of recommendations and guidelines to ensure the independence of the legal profession, in line with international agreements and standards.
The expert consultation held at the Human Rights House Belgrade offered a platform to gain knowledge of and establish long-term cooperation between legal professionals and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.
It aimed to give the Special Rapporteur better knowledge of the specific issues affecting the legal professional in Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia, in order to increase the attention she gives to this region within the scope of her mandate, whether through addressing communications and press releases to these States, or by undertaking a country visit to one of them and advocating for structural reforms