Human rights lawyers at risk
24 January 2023
On the occasion of The Day of the Endangered Lawyer, Lawyers Without Borders Canada acknowledges the courage and determination of human rights lawyers all around the world.
In recent years, the rule of law in many of the countries where Lawyers Without Borders Canada operates has suffered an unprecedented erosion. There has been an alarming rise in prosecutions of judges and lawyers for their involvement in the fight against impunity and corruption.
The number of cases of criminalisation of the legal profession, particularly in Latin America, is high and rising. Attacks can take many forms, including judicial frame-ups, unfounded criminal prosecutions, illegal searches, public and media defamation, and threats to their lives and physical integrity. Women judges and lawyers are particularly targeted by these various forms of intimidation and persecution.
Lawyers Without Borders Canada is proud to support, on a daily basis and on the ground, these courageous individuals who continue to be the voice and the hope of citizens seeking justice, despite increasing threats. Human rights lawyers are the last line of defence for people in vulnerable situations. They protect the rights of indigenous communities, victims of violence, human trafficking and corruption, among other human rights violations. Protecting lawyers is protecting people.
Under the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signatory countries have an obligation to protect those who work to promote, protect and fulfill human rights from reprisals and threats. Institutions must ensure that lawyers can exercise their profession without hindrance, intimidation, harassment or undue interference. The same applies to judges and other judicial officers.
The purpose of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer is to draw attention to the situation of lawyers who, for no other reason than the exercise of their profession, are subjected to unworthy treatment.
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