AIJA e-voting at 2021 Annual Congress
22 July 2021
For the fourth year, AIJA will be using e-voting at the 2021 Annual Congress! This year, we are electing a new Vice-President of AIJA, a new Treasurer and voting for the partial renewal of the Executive Committee. We will also be using e-voting for other resolutions submitted to the General Assembly on Saturday, 28 August.
E-voting is easy. Join us and enjoy the multiple benefits of e-voting next month in Zurich or online! Here is why:
1. Direct participation
E-voting offers a more time-efficient and transparent way for members to be directly involved in the future of the association. This way association decisions are made with the consideration of the entire organisation.
E-voting is an electronic system that allows members to log into a secure voting platform and cast their votes electronically within their web or mobile browsers from any location and any device.
Voter privacy, election integrity, correctness and security are guaranteed through encryption protocols. To ensure that the election process is secure, please follow these instructions:
Step 1. Please log in on MyAIJA during the election windows and click on the link in the ‘AIJA ELECTIONS’ box you find on top of the home page. The link to the e-voting platform will only be available during the election windows.
Step 2. Once you have clicked on the link, please follow the instructions and fill in the ballot. There will be no further identification required.
Step 3. Proxy holders will fill out as many ballots as the total number of proxies they received in addition to their own vote.
E-voting instantly collects and processes the data in real time. The voting platform can prevent accidental over-voting, as each voter is required to identify with their unique Membership ID Number through MyAIJA.
The Philippines: Attacks against lawyers further escalating
23 June 2021
Together with 29 lawyers’ organisations, bar associations and human rights organisations, AIJA signed a joint statement on the escalating attacks against lawyers in the Philippines.
The undersigned organisations express our deep concern over the attacks and the oppressive working environment lawyers still face in the Philippines.
We call again on the Duterte Government to adequately protect the safety and independence of lawyers and end the culture of impunity in which these attacks occur.
In view of the above, the undersigned organisations and individuals urge the Government of the Philippines to:
1. Investigate promptly, effectively, thoroughly and independently all extrajudicial killings and attacks against lawyers, and other jurists, with the aim of identifying those responsible and bringing them to justice in proceedings that respect international fair trial standards;
2. Take all reasonable measures to guarantee the safety and physical integrity of lawyers, including the provision of adequate protection measures, in consultation with the persons concerned;
3. Create and fully support an independent, credible and impartial body, i.e. not under the control or the influence of the government, composed of members selected exclusively from nominees from lawyers organizations, civil society, the Church and the like in a transparent way, who are known for their human rights record, independency and integrity; this civilian investigative body must be entrusted with the necessary investigative and prosecutorial powers to investigate promptly, impartially and effectively - under international supervisory mandate - all reports and complaints against state security agents with respect to extrajudicial killings, threats and other forms of harassment; the recommendations of this investigative body should be immediately followed by the government.
4. Consistently condemn all forms of threats and attacks against lawyers publicly, at all political levels and in strong terms; and,
5. Fully comply with and create awareness about the core values underlying the legal profession, amongst others by bringing the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers to the attention of relevant stakeholders, especially members of the executive, police, and the military.
Read more about the final statement here.
14 June: International Fair Trial Day and the Ebru Timtik Award
14 June 2021
The right to a fair trial has long been recognised by the international community as a fundamental human right, without a fair trial every individual risks becoming the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Ebru Timtik was one of 18 lawyers in Turkey who were members of the Progressive Lawyers Association, some of which were working at the People’s Law Office, made subject to a prosecution in the Istanbul 37th Assize Court under Articles 314 and 220 of the Turkish Penal Code for terrorist offences. She and her colleagues were convicted on 20 March 2019 after a trial during which basic procedural safeguards and internationally recognised fair trial principles were ignored. Her conviction was based on the testimony of anonymous witnesses, many of which gave inconsistent testimony in relation to alleged facts and time periods. Lawyers acting in her defence were frequently prevented from participating in the proceedings and in some circumstances were excluded.
The defects in the trial process led Ebru Timtik together with one of her colleagues, Aytaç Ünsal, to commence a “death fast” following a hunger strike which began on 5 April 2020, the Turkish “Day of the Lawyer”. Sadly, on 27 August 2020 Ebru Timtik died whilst continuing to protest both her innocence of the charges on which she had been convicted, and the lack of respect for fundamental fair trial principles in the criminal justice system which had prejudiced both her and her colleagues, and many thousands of other individuals in Turkey.
International Fair Trial day - 14 June
In recognition of Ebru Timtik's sacrifice, a number of international bar and lawyers organisations (including AIJA), have come together to arrange an annual “International Fair Trial Day” which will be observed every year on 14 June. Steps are also being undertaken to introduce a new annual Ebru Timtik Award to recognise an individual or an organisation who has, or which has made an exceptional contribution towards securing fair trial rights in the country on which the International Fair Trial Day is focusing for the year in question. Each year a conference will be held, either online or at a physical location in a country chosen because of the level of concern with regard to the lack of respect for fair trial rights in that jurisdiction at that time. There will also be events in the countries across the word on each International Fair Trial Day to raise awareness of the situation in the focus country.
The International Organisation of Young Lawyers (AIJA) fully supports this initiative and wishes to raise awareness on this important issue and to continue to keep Ebru Timtik's memory alive.
To find out more about the International Fair Trial Day, read the statement here.
The Inaugural International Fair Trial Day event will take place later today (15.00-17.20 CEST) online. Watch it live on YouTube.
Great partial victory from AIJA member in significant human rights case involving the right to vote
18 February 2021
Rodrigo Da Silva, an AIJA member native from Uruguay and an American citizen, shares his story on his partial victory related to violations concerning the right to vote by Uruguayan citizens living abroad.
In 2011, I filed a petition against my native country of Uruguay with the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) where I am acting in dual capacity as petitioner and counsel. The petition deals with violations concerning the right to vote by Uruguayan citizens living abroad which are estimated to be about 15-20% of the total Uruguay citizenry (there are 3.4 million citizens residing in Uruguay and about 800,000 residing abroad). Uruguayans living abroad can only participate in all national elections if they travel to Uruguay on the date of the election. In other words, there is no mechanism to cast absentee ballots from abroad and it is now the last country in South America that is disenfranchising its citizens in this regard. The lack of implementation of a system for casting ballots from abroad is not only a violation of the Uruguayan Constitution which provides that “every citizen is a member of the sovereignty of the Nation, and as such is both an elector and eligible”, but also violates the American Convention of Human Rights. More importantly, there is no legal proceeding in Uruguay that a citizen like me can bring to compel government officials to implement a system to exercise a right that is being violated by omission or for lack of procedures which is also a separate violation of the judicial protection section of the American Convention.
Proceedings at the IACHR have 2 stages, a jurisdictional one call admissibility where the IACHR decides if the petition meets the jurisdictional basis of exhausting local remedies, if it has been brought within the applicable time, and if it does involve the violation of substantive provisions of the American Convention. Then, if cases are “admissible”, a formal case is opened and the case proceeds to the merits stage. On 25 April 2020, the IACHR issued the attached 3-2 decision in Spanish which found my petition to be admissible and hinted that I should prevail on the merits. The IACHR found that I had exhausted local remedies, that the petition was filed timely as this is an ongoing violation, and that the petition asserts potential violations of Articles 23, 24 and 25 of the American Convention as set forth in Articles 1.1 and 2 of the same.
If I were to prevail on the merits, the Uruguayan government would be directed by the IACHR to implement a system for Uruguayans living abroad to cast votes in national elections, failing which, the IACHR may file an action with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights wherein the IACHR would be the actual plaintiff/petitioner and I would be entitled to participate as a victim. In December 2020, I filed my supplemental memorandum dealing with the merits phase of the case and I am hoping to get a hearing in Washington, DC where the IACHR is headquartered or to present through videoconference oral arguments to further bolster the legal arguments made in the written submissions. Unlike many other countries, the vote of the citizens living abroad can change the outcome of elections in Uruguay.
The Oriental Republic of Uruguay is divided in 19 states (they are called “Departments”), Uruguayans living abroad are commonly in local parlance as “Departamento 20” (“D20” or in English “Department 20”). As you can see from the chart, D20 is the second state by population in a symbolic country that would count all of its citizens living abroad. This shows in a very graphic way the significance in the case, especially considering our current and sitting President won the last election by only 37,000 votes, see here.
Read the IACHR document issued on 25 April 2020, available in Spanish
Read Rodrigo’ supplemental memorandum, available in Spanish
Chart source: INE – Censo 2011 y Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
The Day of the Endangered Lawyer: A struggle to protect Azerbaijani lawyers
21 January 2021
AIJA has joined again this year the international coalition of 32 law organisations and bar associations in recognising the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, which is commemorated on 24 January every year.
On 24 January 1977, four trade union lawyers and an employee were killed in their Madrid office simply for doing their job. Since 2010, this date is remembered as The Day of the Endangered Lawyer. On this special day, international lawyers raise awareness about the number of legal professionals who are being harassed, silenced, pressured, threatened, persecuted, and in some countries tortured and murdered for their work; and they initiate, or further develop a national discussion about ways to protect lawyers.
In the past few years, the Day of the Endangered Lawyer discussed about ongoing threats in countries such as Egypt, Turkey, China, Colombia, and Pakistan. This year, the 11th Day of The Endangered Lawyer focuses on the challenges of Azerbaijani’s lawyers.
Although Azerbaijan has ratified the most important international human rights treaties, authorities continue to violate them. These human rights violations have been noted by international institutions and non-governmental organisations. Furthermore, in 2018, Azerbaijan introduced a law that prevents lawyers who are not members of the Azerbaijan Bar Association (ABA) and other law practitioners from exercising their profession.
The struggle to protect Azerbaijani lawyers - Petition
AIJA, along with other international partners, has signed a petition calling on the Azerbaijani government to fully implement the ratified international human rights treaties, to ensure that lawyers that have suffered damages are compensated, secure that the independence and role of lawyers are respected by all government institutions, among other vital measures.
To learn more about the Day of the Endangered Lawyer, visit the website here.
To find out more about the status of lawyers in Azerbaijan, read the petition here.