Les droits de l'Homme et la défense de la Défense

Joint Letter to Authorities in Belarus

In a letter to the authorities in Belarus, UIA-IROL joined its voice to the Law Society of England and Wales and Lawyers for Lawyers, to express their deep concerns about threats to the independence of the legal profession and access to justice in the aftermath of the recent elections in Belarus.

On August 9, 2020, the presidential elections in Belarus took place. Subsequently, over 6000 citizens of Belarus have been arrested and detained for taking part in largely peaceful protests against the election results or for voicing criticism of the Government of Belarus. It has been reported that there has been an excessive use of force by state authorities against protesters and that many of those arrested are facing ill-treatment and poor conditions in detention.

According to reports, many of those arrested and detained have not had access to a legal representative or  a legal representative of their own choosing. Where they have been able to meet with a lawyer, it has been alleged that the principle of lawyer-client confidentiality has not been respected. In addition, lawyers have not been granted access to pertinent information to adequately represent and defend the rights of their clients.

It has also been reported that lawyers are being prevented from carrying out their professional duties by law enforcement officers and other state agents and have been harassed, which directly threatens the independence of the legal profession in Belarus. Therefore, access to justice for all citizens in Belarus has been severely curtailed.

Among other demands, UIA-IROL, together with the Law Society of England and Wales and Lawyers for Lawyers, urged the relevant Belarusian authorities to ensure that all those arrested have access to a lawyer of their own choosing; and that lawyers are able to carry out their professional duties freely and without undue external interference, hindrance or intimidation.