Gepubliceerd op: 21 maart 2016 in: Algemeen | Nog geen reacties
Rechters voor Rechters was – als ‘observer’-aanwezig bij de vergadering van de Europese magistratenvereniging Medel. Tijdens deze bijeenkomst is de volgende verklaring aangenomen:
Pisa, March 12, 2016.
Is Europe under Siege?
Dark clouds hang over Europe as threats to fundamental rights and freedoms arise from all countries and governments. In the last months, European governments – under the passivity of the European institutions – have carried out a series of measures aimed to destroy the basis of the rule of law.
The lack of a common policy on migrants
The tragedy ongoing on the European shores continues and Europe is not finding a common solution to the constant death of innocents at the hand of human traffickers. As MEDEL recalled on several occasions (statements of Lampedusa and Athens), the European Charter of Fundamental Rights imposes on European states the duty of solidarity towards all humans, regardless of their origin or citizenship – exactly the opposite of what European authorities are doing.
Demagogic speeches of good intentions face now the cruel reality of facts – living conditions in migrant camps are inhuman, only a couple of hundred migrants have been replaced in EU countries and the alleged disappearance of thousands of children registered upon arrival on European soil and may now be in hands of child abduction networks.
The response of European governments, instead of being directed to protect migrants and refugees, has been in the opposite sense, frequently attacking their most basic rights.
The lack of a common policy for welcoming and registering migrants and refugees is no longer a mere sign of inefficiency of the European institutions – it’s a shame for all Europeand is proving to be a serious threat for the security of Europe: Europeans are not safer when you don’t provide migrants and asylum seekers perspectives of a decent life.
The violation of fundamental freedoms in France
After the dreadful attacks in Paris, French authorities have put forward new legislation directed to protect citizens against terrorism. However, the fight against terrorism cannot be made on the expenses of fundamental freedoms of citizens.The Government wants to integrate in ordinary law the exceptional measures of the “state of emergency”. Derogation measures used in the fight against terrorism contaminate the law and the criminal procedure.The extension of the state of emergency, with the consequent increase of administrative acts that are not subject to judiciary control and the number of restrictive measures to fundamental freedoms that can be put in force through a mere administrative decision, is contrary to the rule of law.Searches by the police and by night decided by prefects, house arrests decided by the Minister of the Interior if a person is suspect of a link to terrorism, searches to vehicles and electronic devices are now allowed, in clear breach of fundamental rights. Adding to all of this, the question of deprivation of nationality for binational citizens put forward by the Government only pollutes the public debate.
The attacks on the independence of justice in Poland, Romania and Turkey
All over Europe, governments have been carrying out attacks against the independence of justice at a scale that not so long ago was unimaginable.
In Poland, the Constitutional Tribunal has been paralyzed through ignoring its rulings, amendments of the law, and factual actionsof politicians. In this way the Tribunal has stopped to be an effective element of the system guaranteeing protection of human rights and the rule of law. Judgments of the Constitutional Tribunal must be promulgated and respected.The blockade of the Constitutional Tribunaldoes not allow for an urgent assessment of several laws adopted in the last few months by the Parliament which deeply interfere into, inter alia, the right to privacy, the freedom of media, and the administration of justice. The adopted Law on the Police has expanded significantly the powers of police and special services to conduct surveillance without sufficient safeguards for the protection of the right to privacy, journalistic sources and information covered by professional secrecy. Public media, which in a democratic society should be independent and pluralistic, have been placed under direct control of the government which has the powers to appoint and dismiss the members of the supervisory and management boards of public service television and radio. The merger of the position of the Minister of Justice with the Prosecutor General, combined with almost unlimited competence of interfering into any criminal proceedings can undermine the fundamental guarantees of division of powers and the fair trial.
In Romania, a general of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) has admitted that the courts became “tactical fields” for this secret service, that all the judges are profiled using behavioural patterns and that this secret intelligence agency is currently “maintaining its interest/attention until a final court decision is been reached in each case”.This raises serious concerns about the integrity of the judiciary system as a whole, as well as the independence of the judges. In almost a year since this scandal erupted, the Romanian authorities have failed to clarity the involvement of SRI in the judiciary process.The SRI Director stated publicly that this secret service agency is in partnership with the prosecutors to conduct criminal investigations, an activity that it is forbidden by the law. At the same time, invoking classified procedures and secret protocols, the Romanian authorities have failed to explain in a transparent way how they conducted the investigation to conclude that there are no undercover agents of any intelligence agencies among the magistrates.In the context that SRI is part of the criminal investigation and it is also involved in the courts, corroborated with the failure of authorities to clarify transparently these matters, this raises serious doubts about the respect for basic human rights and the guarantee of a fair and just trial of any person accused by the state. The most recent attacks to the Romanian Constitutional Court, for ruling unconstitutional the article used by prosecutors to delegate SRI to conduct acts of penal investigation, confirms that there is an unhealthy involvement of SRI in the judiciary process. The solution of the Romanian Government to fix this unconstitutional article in the law, by passing an emergency ordinance making SRI a “special organ” to conduct penal investigations, legalizes actually the involvement of a secret intelligence agency in the judiciary process which is undermining its independence. With SRI legally participating now in the penal investigation, and with SRI transforming the courts as their “tactical fields”, profiling judges and “maintaining their interest/attention until a final court decision is been reached in each case”, Romania is violating the human rights, independence of the judiciary, rule of law and separation of power principles.
In Turkey, for over a year judges Metin Özçelik and Mustafa Başer and prosecutors Süleyman Bağrıyanık, Ahmed Karaca, Aziz Takçı and Özcan Şişman are in detention only because of their judgments and for their professional judicial activity (judges Özçelik and Başer because of release orders they issued for police officers involved in anti-corruption investigations; prosecutors Bağrıyanık, Karaca, Takçı, and Şişman for investigations against illegal arm-smuggling).Requests for visiting them by international observers were rejected and when a representative of MEDEL tried to attend a hearing as international observer, it was decided that the trial was to be continued in camera, raising strong doubts about the compliance of the proceedings with the international standards of transparency and respect for the rule of law.
All these situations are notorious attempts of the executive power to control the judiciary, violating severely the fundamental rights and freedoms. The access to an independent judiciary is a fundamental right of any citizen and one of the cornerstones of the rule of law – to violate it is to put at risk the basis of all European values and standards.
Is Europe is under siege? Yes, but not by migrants or asylum seekers – by policies that risk to destroy the basic freedoms and the rule of lawon which Europe was built.
Taking into consideration that the EU needs the support of Turkey tackling the refugee crisis, MEDEL expects that the European Union makes no concessions to the authoritarian regime in Turkey in regard with the rule of law, state of liberties and human rights, which are the fundamental values upon which the European Union is based and must be respected also by Turkey, which applied to join the EU.
Particularly in times of crisis, we must not abandon our democratic, social and humanitarian achievements. MEDEL therefore is committed to joining forces in the spirit of tolerance, solidarity, democracy and the rule of law in Europe.
The Council of Administration of MEDEL, gathered in Pisa:
Supports a Europe that protects human dignity and provides prospects for a harmonious society and a dialogue on cultural, religious and social diversity and the creation of forums for people to come into contact with one another;
Appeals for the rigorous prosecution of inhumane attacks by right-wing extremists on refugees and their accommodation, as well as on the police, the media, and volunteers;
Recalls the urgent need for the definition of a clear and humane common policy for migrants and refugees;
Calls on all European governments to immediately cease all attacks on individual liberties and fundamental rights;
Demands full respect for the independence of the judiciary, mainly by the Polish government, and demands the immediate release of the detained Turkish colleagues and the immediate ceasing of any kind of interference of secret services in the judiciary in Romania.
Gepubliceerd op: 19 maart 2016 in: Activiteiten, IBAHRI | Nog geen reacties
Human Rights Council, 31st session
Agenda Item 6: General Debate – Universal Periodic Review (18 March 2016)
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) released this week its report on the ‘Role of the UPR in advancing human rights in the administration of justice’. The report assesses more than 38,000 recommendations made between 2008 and 2014 for references to the legal profession.
The report’s key findings include:
UPR recommendations still insufficiently address the role of judges, lawyers and prosecutors, or the threats they face, as extensively documented by the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers. Significantly, these recommendations often make no reference to relevant UN standards.
Recommendations relating to the independence of judges are often too vague to be an effective response to the shortcomings of any given jur
isdiction. Serious issues in the appointment and removal of judges are mostly ignored.
The independence of lawyers was considered in fewer than 100 of the 38,000 UPR recommendations.
Prosecutorial independence is addressed in less than 10 per cent of the recommendations calling upon States to effectively investigate or prosecute rights violations.
Guarantees for legal professionals’ rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association are barely addressed. This fails to reflect the key role that self-governing organisations of legal professionals should play in upholding human rights and the rule of law, the independence of the legal profession and law reform processes.
As international organisations of legal professionals, we foster the engagement of the legal profession in UN human rights mechanisms and in monitoring the implementation of UPR recommendations.
We call upon the Human Rights Council, as well as States, to ensure that in the third cycle of the UPR, the role of judges, lawyers, and prosecutors receives the heightened attention that it is due, as recognised by the UN Basic Principles on the independence of the judiciary, the UN Basic Principles on the role of lawyers and the UN Guidelines on the role of prosecutors.
Thank you, Mr President
The following organisations have endorsed this statement:
Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association
Commonwealth Lawyers Association
International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute
International Commission of Jurists
Judges for Judges
Lawyers for Lawyers
Southern Africa Litigation Centre
Gepubliceerd op: 9 maart 2016 in: Algemeen, Turkije | Comments Off on Publication of Open letter of Yarsav (Turkish Association of Judges and Prosecutors): “THE LAST S.O.S CALL FROM FREE TURKISH JUDGES”
According to government controlled daily newspaper (Sabah) which functions as a mouthpiece and precursor of government attacks to the judiciary, the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors will suspend a total number of 680 judges and prosecutors on the grounds of being members of “Parallel Structure” and “Gülenists”. Ensuingly judges and prosecutors will be disbarred from profession and put on trial in a very short time. According to the news, although this number (5000) is denied by HCJP, there are a total number of 5000 judges and prosecutors who are being investigated and this will be the first step to disbar and try all of them.
This will be the greatest purge that we have ever seen and we know that without concrete evidence our colleagues and ourselves will be labeled as members of “Parallel Structure” and “Gülenist” and persecuted accordingly as it has happened to many of our colleagues previously.
As a first step there will be 120 administrative judges and 560 civil and criminal judges and prosecutors most probably including many members of our association “Turkish Association of Judges and Prosecutors”.
According to said newspaper the vice president of the Judicial council, Mr. Metin Yandırmaz, told them that judicial leg of this parallel organization (a term which is coined by President Erdoğan), has 5000 judges and prosecutors and they will all be dealt with step by step.
So far 14 judges and prosecutors were disbarred from profession, being put on trial, some arrested and 80 judges and prosecutors have been suspended under this pretext.
Executive’s modus operandi is to make this kind of news in his own media firstly and after weighing reactions and see that there is not enough reaction he carries out his plans accordingly. We have seen this many times. It is obvious that this news is laying the groundwork for a huge purge.
This is the last chance of the contemporary world and international community that believe in democracy, fundamental rights and independence of judiciary to react strongly otherwise there will be a dictatorship on the doorsteps of Europe under your watch.
We, Turkish Association of Judges and Prosecutors, invite international institutions to react and stop executive’s latest attempt to eradicate the last obstacle in front of it in order to establish a dictatorship within the boundaries of Turkey which will have detrimental effect on our region and Europe. This is the last chance to say stop this madness or in order to save today, tomorrow will be lost for all of us who wants to see peace in the region and Europe.
Free Turkish judges and prosecutors who are defending democracy, freedoms and independence of judiciary need your immediate support, solidarity and reactions in order to save the last bastion of Turkish democracy.
We would like to underline the reality that this may be the last call issued by us to the free world.
President of YARSAV (Turkish Association of Judges and Prosecutors)
Gepubliceerd op: 2 maart 2016 in: Activiteiten, Algemeen, Venezuela | Comments Off on Carta para la Asamblea Nacional con respecto a la jueza María Afiuni
1 de Marzo, La Haya, Países Bajos
Estimados miembros de la Asamblea Nacional de República Bolivariana de Venezuela,
Somos la Fundación neerlandesa Jueces para Jueces que opera desde Países Bajos. Es una Fundación que se esfuerza por sus colegas jueces en el extranjero que se encuentran en dificultades o que amenazan con meterse en problemas por el ejercicio de su profesión. Esto puede ser el caso por ejemplo porque se viola o se amenaza su independencia o porque se ejerce presión sobre ellos. La fundación se creó en 1999. Desde 2010 la fundación ha estado involucrada activamente en las situaciones de sus colegas jueces y vigila de cerca la situación en un número de países. Si la fundación se percata de que un juez tiene problemas o corre el riesgo de tener problemas, nos ponemos en contacto con él o ella. También ocurre que los mismos jueces se ponen en contacto con la Fundación. De acuerdo con el juez implicado, se considera qué acción de la Fundación pueda contribuir a mejorar su situación. En un número de casos la Fundación se pone en contacto con las autoridades del país implicado, con los órganos parlamentarios nacionales o europeos o busca la colaboración con las autoridades holandesas o internacionales. En un número de casos buscamos publicidad, en otros casos practicamos la diplomacia silenciosa.
Gepubliceerd op: 26 februari 2016 in: Algemeen, Turkije | Nog geen reacties
On February 10th, 2016, the former chair of Judges for Judges, Gerritjan Van Oven observed the second hearing in the criminal trial against the judges Baser and Öczelik in Ankara (Turkey).
Judges for Judges has been following their cases since their arrest and detention in May 2015 (see for more information: http://www.rechtersvoorrechters.nl/judges-for-judges-concerned-by-the-arrest-and-ongoing-detention-of-two-turkish-judges/).
IAJ Honorary President Mr. Gerhard Reissner observed the trial as well, he had been also present at the hearing of January 21st.
Although three days were earmarked for this trial, it was postponed after the first day. After motions of the defense lawyers concerning the competency of the court were denied earlier that day finally all the lawyers stepped down and the two accused judges remained without defense lawyers. Due to the type of the offenses the two judges are suspected of a defense lawyer is necessary, so the trial had to be adjourned. The prosecutor put forward a motion to keep the judges in detention. Both of them delivered in response a long and impressive argumentation showing why there is no legal basis to keep them in prison.
In spite of their arguments, after a break the court announced that the accused judges should remain in detention and that they had 15 days to reorganize their defense otherwise a court appointed defense counsel would be assigned.
The court also announced which witnesses the court is going to hear. The two accused judges made clear that they wanted to be present during the questioning of the witnesses and that they also want to have the possibility to ask them questions in order to defend themselves.
The court made it possible that the accused could see their families, which had traveled from Istanbul to Ankara to follow the hearing, among them the wife of defendant Öczelik, a medical doctor, who used to work for the Bezmialem Vakif University Hospital but who was fired without reasoning but right after the arrest of her husband and the couple´s 5 year old son, who was probably for the same reason expelled from his kindergarten.
The observers also had a short possibility to speak with the accused judges and their families.
The next hearing will take place March 14th, Judges for Judges plans to send an observer again.
Gepubliceerd op: 26 februari 2016 in: Algemeen, CIJL_ICJ, Lesotho | Comments Off on The latest from Lesotho
The situation in Lesotho, a tiny nation in South Africa, was drawn to the attention of Judges for Judges by Lawyers for Lawyers. It appears that in Lesotho a ‘hit list’ is in circulation, mentioning the names of lawyers that initiate procedures the army doesn’t like. These procedures concern for instance the legal aid of military personnel that is being detained for unclear reasons. Indeed, one of these lawyers has been murdered.
We investigated this situation using the network Judges for Judges has at its disposal in South Africa. Thus we learned that in Lesotho the judicial independence is also under a heavy pressure. For instance the presiding judge of the Court of appeal has been deposed. He is being prosecuted, allegedly for tax evasion. However the proceedings are obviously politically inspired.
We assured the Chief Justice of Lesotho of our support, wherever and whenever needed or wished for. This offer was thankfully accepted.
Possibly a ‘fact finding mission’ will follow later this year, in which Judges for Judges will participate. Furthermore the possibility is being considered to observe the legal proceedings, if the case of the presiding judge of the Court of appeal will be judged in appeal.
In cooperation with the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) we continue to closely watch the developments.
Gepubliceerd op: 25 februari 2016 in: Algemeen, CIJL_ICJ, Lesotho | Comments Off on Nieuws uit Lesotho
Rechters voor Rechters werd door Advocaten voor Advocaten geattendeerd op de situatie in Lesotho, een mini staatje in Zuid-Afrika. Daar circuleert een “hitlist” met advocaten die het leger onwelgevallige procedures voeren. Het gaat dan bijvoorbeeld om het bijstaan van militairen die om onduidelijke redenen worden vastgezet. Een van die advocaten is ook daadwerkelijk vermoord.
We hebben de situatie onderzocht via het netwerk dat Rechters voor Rechters heeft in Zuid-Afrika. We vernamen toen dat ook de rechterlijke onafhankelijkheid zwaar onder druk staat in Lesotho. De president van het Hof is bijvoorbeeld afgezet en vervolgd, zogenaamd vanwege belastingtechnische redenen. Overduidelijk is dat dit een politieke actie is.
Wij hebben de Chief Justice van Lesotho laten weten dat wij steun verlenen waar en wanneer dat nodig en opportuun mocht blijken. Daar is met dank op gereageerd. Mogelijk volgt er dit jaar een factfinding mission waar Rechters voor rechters aan deelneemt. En daarnaast wordt de mogelijkheid van proceswaarneming overwogen als de zaak van de president van het Hof in appel wordt behandeld.
In samenwerking met het Zuid-Afrikaanse Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) en de International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) houden wij de situatie nauwlettend in de gaten.
Gepubliceerd op: 23 februari 2016 in: Activiteiten, Swaziland | Nog geen reacties
Judges for Judges (J4J) participated in the International Fact Finding Mission in Swaziland (IFFM-SZ) held in May 2015 by the ICJ, in collaboration with the Africa Judges and Jurists Forum (AJJF) and the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA).
On 18 February 2016 the report was presented that scrutinizes judicial independence and accountability in Swaziland and makes several findings and recommendations regarding the independence and accountability of the judiciary in the country.The mission was conducted at the backdrop of a number developments of concern for the independence and accountability of the judiciary in Swaziland.
The report observes that:
The Kingdom of Swaziland has a constitutional and legislative framework that does not respect the separation of powers or provide the necessary legal and institutional framework and safeguards to ensure the independence of the judiciary;
The former Chief Justice Ramodibedi failed to protect and defend the institutional independence of the judiciary;
The Executive failed to respect the independence of the judiciary; and
The failure to respect the independence of the judiciary by the Executive and the failure by the Chief Justice to defend the institutional independence of the judiciary created conditions conducive to abuse of the legal system for personal gain
Presenting the Mission’s findings, the ICJ Africa Regional Programme Director, Arnold Tsunga urged the Crown, Judiciary, civil society and international community to collectively work towards the implementation of the recommendations to strengthen the institutional and structural independence of the judiciary thereby restoring citizen’s and stakeholders confidence in the judiciary and the rule of law.
Gepubliceerd op: 14 december 2015 in: Algemeen, Bulgarije | Comments Off on Protest of Bulgarian judges and open letter to Bulgarian citizens
Judges from several courts in Sofia staged a protest in front of the Palace of Justice Friday evening December 11th 2015. The president of the Supreme Court of Cassation was one of them. The protest – along with other protests – followed the Parliaments refusal on December 9th to support constitutional changes proposed by the Minister of Justice, Hristo Ivanov and relating to judicial reform and the composition of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). Right after the vote, Ivanov, announced his resignation, which was accepted by the Prime Minister Borisov. His deputies also resigned.
Last year Ivanov presented a package of legislative proposals aiming at the decrease of political influence over the judiciary and the division of the SJC in two separate colleges – one for judges and the other for prosecutors. Ivanov did not receive enough support from the ruling political party (GERB) and to a large extent, his proposals were rejected in parliament. In July 2015, a political compromise was reached on the division of the SJC: the judges’ college should have thirteen members – the presidents of the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Supreme Administrative Court, six judges elected by their peers and five members elected by the Parliament. The prosecutors’ college should have twelve members – the Prosecutor General, five prosecutors elected by their peers and six members elected by the Parliament.
Last Wednesday, the Parliament voted on different quota for the members SJC. The result is a higher number of political appointments in the judges’ college, and a stronger hand of the prosecutor-general in the prosecutors college.
The Bulgarian Judges Association (BJA) played an important (advisory) role in the reform process. After the Parliaments vote, the BJA addressed the citizens of Bulgaria in an open letter – a historic move – and explained why this issue is so important: “it gets down to the most fundamental problem – which is whether we can have judicial courts that are independent of politicians and whether we can rely on a prosecutor’s office which is independent of political interference”.
Please find the complete text of the letter here.
Judges for Judges strongly supports the colleagues in Bulgaria and the judicial reform they stand for.
Gepubliceerd op: 12 december 2015 in: Activiteiten, Algemeen | Comments Off on Steun Rechters voor Rechters met de aankoop van ‘Law & Order’ van Jan Banning
In het decembernummer van het tijdschrift Trema wordt aandacht besteed aan het onlangs verschenen fotoboek ‘Law & Order’.
In de verschillende thematische fotoseries van Jan Banning klinkt steeds zijn maatschappelijke betrokkenheid door. Zijn werk is opgenomen in collecties in de hele wereld en is in Nederland bijvoorbeeld ook aangekocht door het Rijksmuseum.
Op zijn site (www.janbanning.com) staat over zijn nieuwste fotoboek ‘Law & Order’ onder andere het volgende geschreven:
Law & Order is een ongebruikelijk en innovatief boek over strafrecht waarin de wereld van de kunst gecombineerd wordt met die van de juridische wetenschap. Banning fotografeerde bij politie en rechtbanken en in gevangenissen in Colombia, Frankrijk, Uganda en de Verenigde Staten van Amerika.
Het boek bevat voorts een essay van Banning over strafvervolging, en een aangrijpend verhaal van Michiel Scholtes die zelf jarenlang gevangen zat in Frankrijk. Juridische experts van het Max Planck Instituut (MPI) in Freiburg, Duitsland geven korte inleidingen op de rechtssystemen van de vier landen, plus infographics over criminaliteit en strafrecht in deze en een selectie van andere landen. Ulrich Sieber, directeur van het MPI, schreef het voorwoord.
Deze veelzijdige collectie foto’s, teksten en statistieken roept vragen op over strafrechtbeleid die politieke gemeenplaatsen en populaire clichés ontkrachten.
Afgesproken is dat 10% van de opbrengst van de Law & Order – boeken die door de lezers van Trema wordt besteld, wordt gedoneerd aan Rechters voor Rechters. Een prachtig gebaar!
Geef uzelf of een ander dit prachtige fotoboek van Jan Banning cadeau en steun tegelijkertijd Rechters voor Rechters. Stuur een mail met uw bestelling naar: firstname.lastname@example.org en vermeld in de kop ‘Trema’. Een selectie van foto’s uit de Law & Order serie is overigens tot 16 januari 2016 te zien in Galerie Fontana in Amsterdam: www.fontanagallery.com.