Public Statement - The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concerns about intimidation and threats against human rights lawyer Adilur Rahman Khan in Bangladesh

TORONTO, Dec. 7, 2015 /CNW/ - The Law Society of Upper Canada is gravely concerned about intimidation and threats against human rights lawyer Adilur Rahman Khan.

Adilur Rahman Kahn is a prominent lawyer and human rights defender. In 2014, he was awarded the International Bar Association's Human Rights Prize. Adilur Rahman Khan is the founder and secretary of Odhikar, a human rights organization that works to raise awareness of human rights and monitor alleged violations in Bangladesh. 

Reports indicate that on August 2, 2015, the Media and Public Relations wing of the Police Headquarters in Dhaka issued a press release affirming that statements made by Odhikar and the Bangladesh Human Rights Commission (BAMAK) regarding extra judicial executions "contravene the existing laws of Bangladesh, which is synonymous to challenging Rule of Law and the judicial system." The press release further stated that "questioning the activities of the police threatens the reputation of the police and amounts to defamation and a criminal act, and may be considered a subversive activity."

The Law Society is aware of allegations that Mr. Khan and his relatives received death threats in August 2015, on or after the publication of the police press release.

Adilur Rahman Khan, his family members and Odhikar have been the subjects of acts of intimidation in the past. They have reported being under constant watch by the Special Branch of Police. Futhermore, it is the Law Society's understanding that Adilur Rahman Khan is currently facing charges under Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act 2006 (amended in 2009), in relation to a fact-finding report issued by Odhikar on the killing of 61 people during an operation carried out by security forces against Hefazat-e Islam activists on May 5-6, 2013, in Dhaka.

The Law Society of Upper Canada urges the government of Bangladesh to comply with Articles 16 and 23 of the United Nations' Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers

Article 16 states:

Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economics or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

Moreover, Article 23 states:

Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the rights to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization.

The Law Society urges the government of Bangladesh to:

a.

guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Adilur Rahman Khan;

b.

guarantee all the procedural rights that should be accorded to Adilur Rahman Khan and other human rights lawyers and defenders in Bangladesh;

c.

put an end to all acts of harassment against Adilur Rahman Khan as well as other human rights lawyers and defenders in Bangladesh;

d.

ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments.

*The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for more than 49,000 lawyers and 7,400 paralegals in the province of Ontario, Canada. The Treasurer is the head of the Law Society.

The mandate of the Law Society is to govern the legal profession in the public interest by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law.

SOURCE The Law Society of Upper Canada

For further information: Susan Tonkin, Communications Advisor - Media Relations, at 416-947-7605 or stonkin@lsuc.on.ca. The Law Society of Upper Canada, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, M5H 2N6, www.lsuc.on.ca

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